Summer is here. The sky is clear, the days stretch long and the prospect of setting out on a meandering road trip is looking more and more enticing. Don’t hesitate. Just go. But first, make sure you have the right music. It has to match your mood, and moods change often when you’re on the road. Here’s a playlist to get you started, with a diverse list of bands to choose from. Click the button below to listen to the full list on Made Man’s Spotify.
1. “Pushin’ On” by The Quantic Soul Orchestra
Set off to the sounds of Will Holland’s Quantic Soul Orchestra. The beat is quick, the funk is infectious and vocalist Alice Russell’s warm wail puts you in the mindset to move.
2. “Bicentennial Man” by Black Lips
When you hit the highway you need a constant rhythm to keep you rolling down the road. “Bicentennial Man” does the job right, with the Black Lips delivering a driving rock melody that starts fast and stays strong all the way through.
There’s something frantic yet controlled about Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll.” Embrace it. You’re on the road. Nothing else matters out here.
3. “Plunken Em” by People Under the Stairs
Relax for a moment and let People Under the Stairs carry you down the road with their slick flows and heavy beats. Now’s a good time to roll down your window and do that airplane thing with your hand.
4. “Oh My God” by Cults
“Oh My God” offers a sound that belongs to summer. Lyrically, it’s about breaking free of a monotonous life and setting out in search of better things. Musically, it’s upbeat and pervasive, a youthful anthem that explodes with thick guitar lines and swelling choruses before fading to a drawn-out close.
5. “How Long Must I Wait” by Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog channels their rock ’n’ roll forbearers with impressive attention to detail, creating songs that wouldn’t be out of place at some sprawling music festival circa 1970. It’s perfect for the road, transporting listeners to a time when Route 66 was more than just a logo on a truck stop t-shirt.
6. “Since I Left You” by The Avalanches
When you start to fade from road fatigue you’ll need something to pick you back up. Crack open a Red Bull and let the Avalanches lead the way with “Since I Left You.” Classic jazz samples fuse with R&B vocals and hip-hop sensibilities to form a stirring number that’ll have you grooving in your seat before long.
7. “Rock & Roll” by The Velvet Underground
There’s something frantic yet controlled about “Rock & Roll.” Led by a freewheeling three-chord guitar line and Lou Reed’s bouncing vocals, the track evokes a wild and justified disregard for anything that doesn’t jive just right with what you want to feel at the moment. Embrace it. You’re on the road. Nothing else matters out here.
Half-dressed cowgirls: a surprisingly common sighting on dusty back roads…
8. “Color Sky” by Monster Rally
Take it down a notch and settle into the dripping beat of Monster Rally’s “Color Sky.” The sound is slow and muffled with a stripped-down vibe, stretching out and looping back on itself like a half-remembered hip-hop daydream. Don’t forget to look out the window every now and then.
9. “Ragged Wood” by Fleet Foxes
“Ragged Wood” bears the kind of rolling tempo that makes you want to put your foot down on the gas and sail across a wide-open stretch of back road asphalt. Like Dr. Dog, Fleet Foxes draws their inspiration from a different time, producing that distinct throwback feel that lends itself so well to extended journeys.
10. “Bleeker Street” by Simon & Garfunkel
It has all the makings of a great road song—the acoustic guitar, the vocal harmonies, the overarching sense of change and movement—but more than anything, “Bleeker Street” speaks to the destination. It’s about a place, somewhere familiar, like the place you might end up when this long drive eventually comes to a close.