Jalopnik Weekend: Ten Best Driving Albums

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We're blasting the Brawlers disk off Tom Waits's new audio triptych Orphans and we hear Tom cough out, "It's a big old Lincoln Continental with the suicide doors." Reflexively, instinctively, naturally we stabbed the go-pedal of this week's Dodge Nitro (super review potential — wait for it), causing the 4.0L V6 to burst into life. And we started thinking. Driving music matters. Fine, if you are rich enough to listen to the "mellifluousness symphony" of an F430's V8, have at it. But for most of the people most of the time, a great album is what gets you through the long haul. Furthermore, in the age of iPod, albums are beginning to go the way of the straight eight. Everything is shuffle-this and Jack FM-that. Obviously, we had to rush right home and via the power of teh internets register our complaint throughout the world in the form of a list. And yes, we hope we're dating ourselves with these choices. Jump for the list.


Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique
Not only their best album, but more importantly their best driving album. Unlike Check Your Head (their last good album) the songs here on Paul's flow into, compliment and build upon one another. Thinking about it now, this album's insane use of samples is probably responsible for our generation's iPod ADD shuffle syndrome. So be it. Plus we know every line to every song six-ways till Saturday. And it, along with As Nasty as They Wanna Be from 2 Live Crew, was our first ever CD purchase.
Standout Track: High Planes Drifter
Hidden Gem: Buried deep within the epic twelve and a half minute B-Boy Bouillabaisse is the ultra-fantastic acid-trip Year and a Day. It rules.

Chokebore: Anything Near Water
We're sort of rue to include Anything Near Water on this list because we once rocked a party and the singer showed up with Mila Jovovich. Guys, she was so hot that we could see her aura. It, like, it, just... wow. Yes, our jealousy and pettiness is that strong. Still, this is a triple-fantastic album and has gotten us from Southern to Northern California and back again many, many times.
Standout Track: Wash (You Glow) / Dust (Tie)
Hidden Gem: Lemonade | Best song about jerking off ever. "I just beat my loneliness away/It helped me for a minute or two."

The Atomic Bitchwax: Atomic Bitchwax
Call it Stoner Rock, call it Doom Metal or call it derivative — we just don't care. This is a walloping gut-punch of an album that will get you through that last hundred miles in sixty minutes. Every song is killer and the thumb-on-the-tape fuzzy-drums trick simply rules.
Standout Track: The first song is an ass-kicker. And it's called...Stork Theme... for some reason.
Hidden Gem: Hey Alright | Of course the riffs rock, but pay special attention to the lyrics. Tee hee hee.

Rancid: self-titled (1993)
Yeah, yeah, mall-punk de jour, we hear you. However, this first record was before the dreadful Lars joined the band. Which meant that not only did Matt get to sing, but he got to go batshit on the bass. We love that. From the opening plea of, "Let's Go!" this record never lets up and never relents until "Get, get out of my way!" is forcing you to uncontrollably flash your brights. Few records make midnight runs so full of fist-pumping and plain old fun.
Standout Track: Rats in the Hallway
Hidden Gem: Whirlwind | Who knew a man who calls himself Lint could be such a good lyricist? "When the factory shut down so did the place he lived. Blood money for junk bonds by a white collar fugitive. All those tax free incentives, ain't going to help him now. Four generations of job security have gone out like the horse and plow." Cry for me, UAW.

Mule: self-titled
Maybe we should stick this one higher? For those who don't know, Mule was the amazing PW Long (working under the nom de guerre of P-Bone) and the rhythm section from Detroit's own Laughing Hyenas. Tennessee meets Motown in a big, angry hurry. Like any memorable car, the whole is greater than the individual parts. Mule put a record out after this one called If I Don't Six, but without the great Jim Kimball on drums, it just wasn't the same.
Standout Track: Mississippi Breaks
Hidden Gem: Now I truly Understand | Just a beautiful, beautiful song.

Opeth: Deliverance
Let's be clear; all Opeth shreds as driving tunage. But, even though we know Still Life and Ghost Reveries are better records, this one sounds and feels better in a car. And of course, Martin Lopez is the third arm of God.
Standout Track: Deliverance
Hidden Gem: Last four minutes of Deliverance


Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
And Davey picks his jaw up off the floor. Not their best record (if you don't love The Punch Line then you hate art) but by far their best driving record. Never mind the 43 songs (yes, 43!), the title is a straight up dis on Sammy Hagar. Sure, Cabo-Wabo boy makes some fine tequila and owns some bad-ass rides but his hair is ridiculous and his music sucks. More importantly, Double Nickels rules in a way that most albums can only dream of. Twenty-two years on, D Boon's death still tears us up.
Standout Track: This Ain't No Picnic
Hidden Gem: Storm Inside My House | World's first Emo tune says us. "If I could I surely would give my life to you. So you could have two — take me in your arms and lie to me." So, so sad.
Special AC Schnitzer Memorial Nose Job Track: History Lesson Part II | Cause me and Davey are corndogs. And we like to pogo.

Tom Waits: Bone Machine
Not only Tom's best record, but his most innovative, too. And his best for just getting behind the wheel and straight going for it. A favorite of ours since we first got our license. Keeps getting better, too. Besides, what other album features both Les Claypool and Keith Richards? That's what we thought.
Standout Track: Going Out West | Sure, it's mojo was stolen a little bit by Fincher's decision to feature it in Fight Club, but the kids who call themselves "Tyler Durden" on myspace can't diminish the epic awesomeness of this ditty. May we call it Bruce? "Gonna drive all night, take some speed/waiting for the sun to shine down on me. I cut a whole in my roof the shape of a heart/And I'm going out west where they appreciate me." Indeed.
Hidden Gem: Jesus Gonna Be Here


NoMeansNo: The Day Everything Became Isolated and Destroyed
Really two albums in one, and not their best work (though some would argue different). In keeping with the theme, however, we must note that this record sizzles on road trips. Maybe it's the rollercoaster-ness of it all, the brutal hardcore fury of Dead Souls back to back with the detached nihilism of Forget Your Life that keeps you awake and focused on the road. Maybe it's the magic of Brother Rat slipping into What Slayde Says. Really, it doesn't matter why. because like all things NoMeansNo, this record is much more than just sonic no-doze. It's much more than all the other records you own. Yeah, you. And, like Victory — hello?
Standout Track: Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed | "Hey guys, what do you say for track 9 we reinvent rock music? Cool?" A more original song has yet to be written.
Hidden Gem: Real Love | Careful with this one as you might just drive off the road screaming.

fIREHOSE: Flyin' the Flannel
Two Mike Watt records in the Top 5? Sure, for which musician has driven back and forth across the country more than Watt? And we mean driven. As in behind the wheel. Not sitting in the back of some tour bus like a bogus toadie. No, Watt is quite literally the man in the van (w/a bass in his hand). Check out the following anecdote.


One of our biggest moments in life was our old band "sharing the stage" with fIREHOSE one month out of high school at the now defunct Anaconda in Goleta. This was happening on the last night of their "48-State Cuda-Bake Tour," where they played 70 shows in 73 days across 48 states (and parts of Canada). We sorta new the other opening band Blackbird (Tony and Chip Kinman from the Dills!!) and since we were (maybe) 18, they bought us beer and pizza (and stole our dope). fIREHOSE was supposed to meet them (and by proxy, us) for some chow pre-gig, but they never made it. Why? The van ran out of brakes and Watt and the great George Hurley put new pads on just hours before playing. Fuck Aerosmith. Even Bumbeck can get behind this record.


As far as the Flyin' the Flannel's driving credentials go, I was coming down from the worst acid-trip of my life and this came on the CD changer. I shut my eyes and could see nothing but a Semi-truck racing at top speed around an oval. Yeah, it's like that.
Standout Track: Flyin' the Flannel
Hidden Gem: Lost Colors

We know most of you either hate every record just picked, or have no clue what we're going on about. So, get to it. All your lists are belong to the Jalopnik.


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The Black Keys - Rubber Factory. On a sweltering summer day, when you can see the heat rising from the pavement, I'll have nothing else on the stereo. Something about distorted guitar throughout this album just works for a 100 degree day when you're tearing across the barren midwest with the windows down. It's primal. It's filthy.

Whiskeytown - Pneumonia. Yeah, I know Ryan Adams is a collosal douche. And I know Stranger's Almanac is objectively a better album. But this is my list, and I always find myself reaching for this disk when alone at night in the car.

Spacemen 3 - Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To. By the time the 18 second intro to the first track is over, the speed of my automobile has increased by a factor of approximately 50%.

The Kills - Keep on Your Mean Side. Something about this album makes me want to drive like Tiff Needell.

Jawbreaker - Bivouac. This one resonates more with me than the more popular 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. You can't go wrong with either, though.

Sun Volt - Trace. This album is also good if you're feeling down (maybe a noir chick has broken your heart, and want to sit around and drink bourbon by yourself). But it's also good for lumbering across the nation.

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless. But only if your stereo goes to 11. This album only sounds good to me if played at absurd volume levels.

My Morning Jacket - The Tennessee Fire. I'm belying the fact that many of my long road trips are across the midwest, but if you find yourself on I-70 in the middle of nowhere, I defy you to skip a track.

Muse - Absolution. A good album for attacking a winding two lane road, blithely ignoring speed limits. "Our Time is Running Out" makes me want to clip apexes.

Killing Joke - Killing Joke 2003. Try not going down two gears and flooring it when "Loose Cannon" comes on. I effing dare you.