My favorite albums for driving

I walked out my front door this morning (Ok, technically it was on Tuesday, but this post took a while to write) and an old familiar feeling hit me. The sun was shining. Birds were singing. There were no icy gusts of wind smacking me in the face and making me wish that I was still huddled under my covers (Of course that all changed on Wednesday when it went right back to being cold-as-balls in Astoria).

At least for one day, felt like spring… and I wanted to get in my car and go for a drive in the worst way.

In high school and college, my friends and I used to pile into a car on an unusually nice day, turn up some tunes and go for a drive. I can’t do that so easily anymore because New York City is just a clusterfuck of slow moving traffic and inconsiderate, bloodthirsty drivers. Still, I got to thinking about my all-time favorite albums that sound the best coming out of a car stereo (as my friend Erik would say, “You haven’t really heard an album until you’ve listened to it in your car”).

If you ever happen to roll up next to me at a stop light, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll see me belting out tunes at the top of my lungs.  There’s just something about blaring power chords and sing-a-longs behind the wheel that make me feel like I’m 16 again… That said – if you do catch me mid-chorus, it’ll most likely be to the tune of one of these albums:

Honorable mentions:

Propagandhi – Supporting Caste, Over It – Silverstrand, Blink 182 – Dude Ranch, Enema of the State

Here are my top 5:

5. Name Taken – Hold On: From the first notes of the first song, “Control”, I’m ready to lean back in my car seat and cruise down the highway.  This album didn’t jump out as anything special at first – but I fell in love with a few songs.  It found a place in my magazine rack in my car and for one summer, it was pretty much all I listened to when I was driving to work every day.  Now, this is one of those albums that I’ve savored at length.  I know every track and the way they bleed into each other by heart – it’s a beautiful thing.  There’s a feeling of urgency in the vocals and a little bit of chaos in the guitar layering – it sounds best at night, with city lights blurring past your windows. 

4. MxPx – Life in General: This album reminds me of two specific times in my life.  The first was when my best friend AJ Intihar and I used to listen to pop punk and ska records at his house in the summer.  The second was after I joined Category Five in high school.  Blake (one of my esteemed best friends and the band’s drummer) was borderline obsessed with MxPx.  We’d drive to our guitarist Colin’s house twice a week after school in his beat up Chevy Celebrity with this album blasting.

I really don’t know if there’s another album that makes me feel like I’m 16 again quite like this one.  Every song is a million miles an hour and catchy as hell.  Pretty great formula for a summer drive soundtrack.

3. Further Seems Forever – How to Start a Fire: Similar to the Name Taken album, this got stuck in my car and has since become the backdrop for almost every roadtrip.  More than that though, this album reminds me of springtime in college.  I remember Justin Stewart (singer of Category Five and co-Penn Stater) couldn’t stop listening to this during my freshman year.  Then of course, I got hooked.  I can almost feel the cool breeze ripping through my dorm room when I opened the windows for the first time after the long winter.  Jason Gleason creates these massive, cathartic melodies that explode out the back of your skull.

My college friends (Ben Wygant, I’m calling you out) and I used to pile in my 1994 Mazda Protege (affectionately named “Reggie”) and drive around the local roads singing “The Sound” and “On Legendary” at the top of our lungs.  This one’s an epic.

2. New Found Glory – S/T: My friend Emily used to drive me to and from school every day.  Being a teenage girl, she had a lot of boy-band CDs.  Fortunately for me, Emily was also a bit of a punk rocker too and had some Blink 182 and New Found Glory CDs.  More often than not, this was the album we always agreed on (well… this and NOW 5…).  You can’t deny the hooks on this album.  “All About Her” and “Sincerely Me” still make me want to twitch around in someone’s passenger seat like a maniac.

I lost this CD with a lot of others after a fated trip to Schenley Park with my ex (then current) girlfriend (where my book of CDs mysteriously vanished from my car) and I haven’t burned it again (still don’t have an Mp3 player hookup in my car).  I think I’m going to have to do that on the next trip home.

1. Saves The Day – Through Being Cool: I know, it’s kind of a no-brainer pick.  That’s the beauty of it though.  “We drive.  Dave steps on the gas.  The world that’s flying by is slick and smooth.  Big waves of light.  The radio’s playing queen, we’re rocking out!” For my money, this is no better album to have with you in the car.  Everyone knows the words to all the songs and if you’re in the car for longer than 5 minutes, it’s bound to turn into an all-out party.  This is the definition of a quintessential album.

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2 Responses to “My favorite albums for driving”

  1. Steve!

    This is the best post you have written to date. I totally relate to every ounce of this, except for maybe the bit about MxPx. Well done.

  2. i agree with the saves the day as I’ve gotten definately one, perhaps two, tickets while rocking this album on the way up to college. I have no idea on #5, so I won’t comment. But for a kid that loves blink as much as you do, I’m wholeheartedly suprised that you picked the shitty futher record (as in, moon is down was sweet as hell, this one is shit) and the super shitty NFG slef titled record (they are all shitty, but i obv enjoyed nothing gold can stay enough at the time to purchase the NFG shirt i was wearing around the house yesterday) over blink and your favorite, over it. granted, blink and nfg are about as punk rocker as knitting with grandma, but that’s digressing from your point about roadtrip albums and I know i’ve made that comment to a different blog entry.

    what should be honorable mention/real #1: the roadtrip/driving mix you downloaded off napster and burned yourself.

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