top 10 dinner party albums, ever

there's much more to setting a mood than lighting...

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by Stephanie Thomas

When it comes to entertaining, atmosphere is everything . That’s why we hang string lights, arrange the room just-so, set out snacks and drinks, and put on a warm smile before opening the front door.   Homes the world over are beautiful and inviting. But only the most skilled of hosts know that the secret to mastering mood is music. Read on for the best dinner party albums you could (should) play at your next gathering.

Green Onions

, Booker T. & the MG’s

This classic Stax record features only instruments, no vocals, leaving plenty of room for chatter. Don’t be surprised, though, if you see movement at the table. Booker T. & the MG’s are funky. Bonus: These songs are the ideal foundation for dish-washer dancing.

Keep It Hid

, Dan Auerbach

The Black Keys’ frontman steps out on his own here with an album that abandons genre and glides through varied tempos, styles and stories. It is the perfect companion to an evening that evolves all the way from drinks to dessert.

Give The People What They Want

, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

With a powerhouse of brass and background vocals, Sharon Jones delivers exactly what you want, track after track. This record is all energy, all the time. It will demand a smile of your guests and keep them amped long after you retire to the living room.


, Taylor Swift

This one’s for a ladies-only invite. Putting this record on is basically like asking Taylor to come over and hang. You can talk about good lovers and bad lovers or forget the boys altogether, and “Shake it Off,” as you clear the table.

All Or Nothin’

, Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane isn’t worried about being nice or sounding pretty. She’s bad–a cowgirl of sorts–with a raspy voice and a penchant for doing what she wants. Try this one during after-dinner drinks.

Pet Sounds

, Beach Boys

Once called the greatest album of all time, this is a musical mecca. Your dad will know the words to “God Only Knows” and your siblings can bop along to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Plus, it’s a great excuse to invite everyone back over for the new movie, Love & Mercy.

The Secret Sisters

, The Secret Sisters

Sisters Laura and Lydia offer an experience that’s slow and smooth and easygoing, the way an afternoon with family should be. Each ballad accents the girls’ love for simpler times and their vocal harmonies are on-par with Simon and Garfunkel.

Sound & Color

, Alabama Shakes

Bust out the latest record from this group when you want something with attitude. The sounds are all over the place, in a good way, and the strong vocals of Ms. Brittany Howard will have your friends interrupting conversation for a repeat.

Be The Void

, Dr. Dog

This album is just plain fun. You’ll hear oohs and ahhs, hand claps, foot stomps, off-beat rhythms and catchy tempos. Dr. Dog is best for inspiring a lighthearted mood among old pals.

Cycles Of Existential Rhyme

, Chicano Batman

Never heard of Chicano Batman? Neither have your friends. Which is too bad, and precisely why you must introduce them to each other. This Latin group pairs the cultural heritage of South America with the sounds of the 60’s and 70’s. You can almost hear their curly ‘dos and thrifted ruffle tuxedo shirts–they’re a party waiting to happen.

You And Me

, by Penny & The Quarters. A bonus for a night with just your special guy or gal.

Village Of Love

, by Nathaniel Mayer and The Fabulous Twilights.