Background should never be ‘boring,’ but rather enhance and complement the subject at hand.
This is as true in design as dinner party music. While white-washed walls have their place, doesn’t the living room feel nicer with the walls a cheery yellow or cozy deep red?
With this all-star list of albums, your dinner vibe will take on a new energy and sparkle. In fact, these artists are so entrancing that you might just want to use them to help you zen while you cook as well.
1. Bajofondo Tango Club by Bajofondo
I played this album at every dinner party (with the same crowd of people) for months and never heard anything but the best comments. Bajofondo is an incredibly interesting and versatile group drawing on the best creative talents and inspiration of its eight core artists.
Described as a mix of French house music, Argentine tango, and trip-hop, you can’t quite grasp the brilliance and complexity of the group until you start to listen to their music. Bajofondo Tango Club is a masterfully ordered album that keeps the energy going with an intense, but calmly insistent beat well-illustrated by club hits “Perfume” and “Naranjo en Flor.”
2. Talkie Walkie by Air
Pretty much anything by Air is a home run hit for a dinner or party of any kind, with their dreamy downtempo electronica. The band’s name, which stands for amour, imagination, rêve (love, imagination, dream), is actually a perfectly apt description of their sound.
This album is party perfect with an excellent selection of upbeat hits, including “Cherry Blossom Girl,” “Universal Traveler,” and “Alone in Kyoto,” which was featured on the Lost in Translation movie soundtrack.
3. Finally Woken by Jem
Jem’s music runs an incredible gamut of styles while still somehow maintaining a sense of cohesiveness. Described as trip-hop, electronica, and even folk, she collaborated with Guy Sigsworth (Frou Frou) and Mos Def in her early years.
Finally Woken is fantastic background mood creation music, as seen by that fact that nearly every song on this album has been used on a tv show or movie (many on Grey’s Anatomy, whose soundtrack is an essential guide to many for discovering great new artists). Though too numerous to list them all, a few stand-outs on this album are “They” and “Save Me.”
4. It’s Not Me, It’s You by Lily Allen
To say that Lily Allen’s style is ‘eclectic’ is most decidedly an understatement. She’s been called reggae, electropop, alternative, and grime, and has covered songs that range from Ludacris to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
From fresh, pop-y “22″ to energy pumping “Back to the Start” to the widely played “The Fear” and controversial “Him” and “Fuck You,” it is impossible to pin down Allen’s vibe, but she is always entertaining. Unfortunately, Allen has decided not to make any more albums, so savor those tracks of her light, playful sound and smart, saucy lyrics that we are fortunate enough to have.
5. The Remix Game by Bitter:Sweet
Even though online dating is taking off, most would still be apprehensive of a Craig’s List match up. But when Bitter:Sweet’s Kiran Shahani, formerly of the uniquely entrancing Supreme Beings of Leisure, teamed up with seductively sweet voiced Shana Halligan, it was a match made in heaven.
Their brand of jazzy trip-hop has found its way into many music heavy network TV shows and this album is actually a set of remixes by such producers as Thievery Corporation and Jed Smith. “The Mating Game” and “Dirty Laundry” are great upbeat hits, but there are some slower, moving jems as well, such as “Don’t Forget to Breathe.”
Please note: this list is not ordered by which album is ‘best.’ The company is far too diverse to attempt comparing apples and oranges, and it would truly be impossible to chose a winner from such great albums.
If you are looking for something special for a particular crowd or type of party, drop me a line, and I’d be happy to make a specific recommendation.