Here's the dilemma: It's Memorial Day and you and your gaggle of art school friends have the day off from class. You want to have a barbeque. You've made a list of items to pick up at Whole Foods, including a dozen Adzuki bean burgers (here's a nifty little recipe), some Seitan ribs, Daiya mac 'n' cheese, and avocados (because avocados really go great with everything). Also, don't forget to grab a five liter keg of Rauchbier Marzen or maybe Oberon, and of course a case of PBR. Oh, and pick up a couple of bottles of organic Chardonnay for the ladies (Bonterra 2012 Chardonnay seems nice). And dust off the Twister for some after-grillin' hijinks.
How about the right music to set the patriotic mood? Should you go totally ironic and crank Garth Brooks and Toby Keith tunes all day? But what if your second-tier friends (you know, those friends of friends you've met at the Sigur Rós show last month or the gals you hung out with at the previous art walk) think you actually like that hillbilly stuff? Stick to your guns and find the right mix of tunes that express patriotism but aren't mainstream. Check the top ten patriotic songs for hipsters here.
10. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - "Born in The U.S.A."
Bruce Springsteen has seen a resurgence of relevance since Arcade Fire's Win Butler declared his adoration for the Boss. But, playing the original version of this tune would be too blunt and not clever enough. Opt for Redwood City California's Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's 8-bit, Crystal Castles-ish version instead.
9. Arcade Fire - "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"
Hey speaking of Arcade Fire, why not play this spunky ode to regular life off the group's second album The Suburbs. It'll get the party moving with its tinge of '80s disco.
8. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - "This Land is Your Land"
Probably one of the most famous patriot folk songs of all time. Woodie Guthrie's 1940 original version of this song would suffice, but Sharon Jones, with her deep, lustrous pipes, really does this track justice.
7. Talking Heads - "Big Country"
This is David Byrne doing country music the way you like it. Off the seminal post-punk group's 1978 album More Songs About Buildings and Food, this slide guitar-infected ditty reflects on the simple middle American way of life.
6. Sufjan Steven - "The Star-Spangled Banner"
A leisurely-paced, art-damaged rendition of this American classic by indie folk stud Sufjan Stevens would fit in quite nicely too.
5. Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union"
This grammar in this line from the Preamble to the United States always baffled us. How can you have something be more perfect than what is perfect already? Great fodder for hispter debate. Add an Abraham Lincoln quote ("As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide") sung in Patrick Stickles' cathartic growls, over thrashing, ominous, driving guitar lines, and you may just have the quintessential patriotic hipster song.
4. Nina Simone - "Sunday in Savannah"
This one from sonic luminary Nina Simone isn't "in your face" patriotic, we grant you that, but it's filled with such hope and uplifting spirituality, that's it's destined to be a great end of the party wind down dozy. Simone recorded this moving number at a concert just after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968.
3. The White Stripes - "The Union Forever"
On the surface, you may think this one is about a more perfect union (a nation, or marriage we can't say), but in actuality, it harps on Jack White's favorite movie Citizen Kane. Stir up debate with film majors at your shindig about the greatest movies of all time. And find out on which side of the "is Jack White brilliant or a rip off artist" wrangle the music snobs are on too.
2. XTC - "The Statue of Liberty"
Because what could be more American than four British lads from the '70s New Wave movement singing a fetching hook about Lady Liberty?
1. The Catholic Comb - "Patriots of Love"
Be esoteric, insular, and play a jam from a band that nobody has ever heard of. This sprawling, jittery track from Bay Area act the Catholic Comb does just that. Out wit the music freaks.