Sounds of Summer in the Cities

What’s playing in your favorite haunts and restaurants? DISPATCH found out.


For many, an establishment’s in-house soundtrack is a sign that they’re in the right place. Essential to the joint’s vibe, the right songs can set a mood, add to an enjoyable experience, or have you turning on a dime for the door. DISPATCH called a few favorites to get their playlists. Suffice to say, taken together, this is one helluva mix. 

Ax-Man Surplus

1639 University Ave W, St Paul

Generations of Twin Citizens have marveled at the endless delights within this offbeat palace of oddities. Employees mainly play cassette mixtapes made by co-workers over the years, with track lists lost to time, if they were ever made in the first place. These tunes are delightfully all over the place, befitting of the aisles of the store itself. 

Songs/albums played:

A Mixed Tape of Music By Mort Garson – Mort Garson

‘Garbage’ – Biff Rose

‘Drugs Drugs Drugs ’- Tonetta

‘1999’ – Harold Rippy

‘Dark In My Heart’ – Lee Hazlewood

Cheapo Records 

71 Snelling Ave N, St Paul

For more than 50 years, no matter which side of Snelling the store has found itself, Cheapo has been a go-to for rediscovering classics, picking up a new release, or selling off stuff you’d rather no one knew you listened to freshman year. Don’t fear the record store clerk, they won’t run you out of the store like Jack Black’s Barry Judd in High Fidelity. And who knows, maybe you’ll buy a copy of what you’re hearing in the store…Beta Band, anyone? 

Albums played:

72 Seasons – Metallica 

Wide Awake! – Parquet Courts

Chips from the Chocolate Fireball – The Dukes of Stratosphear

Since I Left You – The Avalanches

Jordan: The Comeback – Prefab Sprout

Disco Death Records

721 W 26th St, Minneapolis

Across the river at Disco Death, you can get coffee, a slab of vinyl, and have your film developed all under one roof. They’ve also begun to host pop-up markets. Their in-store turntable spins an eclectic mix of funk and folk upon its platter, inviting listeners to take a seat in the shop before happy hour at the CC Club. 

Albums played:

Pacific – Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki and Tatsuro Yamashita

Live At the Old Quarter – Townes Van Zandt

Logg – Logg

Scenery – Ryo Fukui

Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren 

Hard Times Cafe

1821 Riverside Ave, Mpls

Harking back to the West Bank of old, Hard Times is still here, offering vegetarian and vegan fare and the strongest cup of coffee on or near campus. Not surprisingly, the tunes are as varied as the clientele. Some crucial jams in here. DISPATCH is just sayin’ The Hard Times and Ax-Man crews could have a great mixtape exchange program.

Songs played:

‘It’s Too Late’ – Bob Mould

‘Without You’ – Mark Gormley

‘Livin’ In the Fridge’ – “Weird Al” Yankovic

‘Fitchl’s Lied’ – The Woodys

‘Too Much Time On My Hands’ – Styx

Lost Fox Lowertown

213 E 4th St, #100, St Paul

Set in a beautiful space across from Union Depot and around the corner from Mears Park, Lost Fox has quickly become a jewel of Lowertown. With a coffee bar up front and a traditional bar in back, they’ve got an excellent menu, ample seating, anda fantastic soundtrack. The care they put into their curation shows.

“It’s important to me that the music reflects the kind of place we’re trying to create,” says co-owner Mike Rose. “We let employees play what they want, within reason. The main goal is to play music that has substance that we find interesting.” 

Songs played:

‘Young Americans’ – David Bowie

‘Spanish Bombs’ – The Clash

‘Sunday Morning’ –  The Velvet Underground

‘Superstition’ – Stevie Wonder

‘Life of Pablo’ – El Michels Affair


3506 Nicollet Ave, Mpls

Sharing a space with Honeycomb Salon, Marigold is Minnesota’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop. They have a splendid selection of NA drinks, from wine to whiskey, as well as beer and THC seltzers (and a second location in St. Paul—St. Anthony Park neighborhood—opening soon). They tend to play a variety of in-store music, but this one was all about the ’90s, complete with singalongs and anecdotes about the music videos. 

Songs played:

‘It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over’ – Lenny Kravitz

‘Fantasy ’- Mariah Carey

‘Tom’s Diner’ – Suzanne Vega

‘Waterfalls’ – TLC

‘Fade Into You’- Mazzy Star