Quarantine Tunes: Local record store owners share their playlists

National Vinyl Record Day is Aug. 12, here’s a Q&A to celebrate.
The MadCity Music Exchange neon sign and storefront.
Photo Courtesy of MadCity Music Exchange
In non-pandemic times, the patrons of MadCity prefer to hang out in the shop and talk music together.

We chatted with MadCity Music Exchange owner Dave Zero and B-Side Records owner Steve Manley about what they have been jamming to lately and the power of music in isolating times. Celebrate National Vinyl Record Day on Aug. 12 by masking up and stopping in, or check out MadCity’s and B-Side’s online shopping options.

What have been your go-to quarantine albums to listen to on vinyl?
Dave Zero: At first I started with the “comfort food” albums … albums you already love that have been with you forever and make you feel good — Hüsker Dü, Cheap Trick, Public Enemy, X, Thin Lizzy and many more like that. Now that we’re a couple of months in, I’ve gone back to my usual absorption of new releases and discovering older titles. Lately it’s been a lot of The Saints, Swamp Dogg, Khruangbin, Waxahatchee, Bill Withers, Tanya Tucker, and Dwight Twilley Band.”

Steve Manley: For introspective or downcast moods it’s hard to beat “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers. This second LP by the 25-year-old L.A. songwriter is currently the 4th best-reviewed album of 2020, according to metacritic.com. For soulful, funky and jazzy moods, the vinyl-only release “Y’all” by Madison composer and keyboardist Wilder Deitz is fantastic. I’m often in an indie-rock mood, so “Collector” by Madison’s Disq has been in steady rotation since it was released, just before the pandemic hit here.

How do you think music brings folks joy in tumultuous times like these?
DZ: Music has the natural ability to bypass the brain and goes straight to the heart. That’s always needed in stressful situations.

SM: Music has always been my most effective distraction from the noise of modern life. To immerse oneself in a good record can be a way to turn away, at least for 40 to 50 minutes, from soundbites, news and worries. Focusing attention on great music can be cleansing and therapeutic.

If you could have a physically distanced picnic with one musician or band — dead or alive — right now, who would it be?
DZ: The Velvet Underground … only because I think it would be funny to watch a bunch of New York artsy hipsters try to sit outside and eat brats and potato salad.

SM: It might have to be with Andy Partridge, formerly of English ’80s and ’90s band XTC, one of my favorites for going on four decades now. Based on his interviews, he’s quite a wit and never at a loss for words, many of which are laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Check out Madison Magazine’s playlist of the mentioned artists: