It is finally time to pull that cover off your motorbike and hit the road! If the annoying abundance of cottonwood fuzz and the traces of pink Peeps dust on your face are any indication, SPRING IS FINALLY HERE!
And with this warmer weather, you can ride longer and go further with less worries about getting hypothermia or sliding into a snowdrift. But if you are getting back into the occasional motorcycle commute to work or some weekend trips into the Rocky Mountains, it is imperative that you have a bitchin’ soundtrack that syncs up perfectly with your bitchin’ ride. This makes the overall experience better, and also helps drown out all the car horns and angry motorists giving you the finger. Here are six awesome albums I recommend adding to your two-wheeled adventures to make them even better than they were before!
6. Daft Punk – Discovery
This album is great for riding, mostly because of the awesome driving electronic groove and catchy songs crafted by France’s Greatest Robots. There are only a couple “meh” tracks on this album, giving you peace of mind that you can just hit play and ride without being stuck listening to too much crap. Most of the tracks are fast-paced, and get your pulse going as you weave your way through traffic to the sounds of a space opera about indentured space alien musicians.
The only real distraction this album creates are the visuals in your mind from the animated film based on the movie, Interstella 5555. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, you are completely doing yourself a disservice. There need to be more movies about sexy blue aliens that aren’t Avatar.
Best track: “Voyager”
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: Works best in the early morning, as the sun rises (and hopefully you are traveling westbound).
5. 311- Uplifter
This is lighter musical fare for ripping across town on your crotch rocket, but I like to mix this album with my motorcycling due to the overall positive message embedded inside of every song. Soaring choruses, intricate wordplay, and an overall uplifting mood just help you to notice the sweet smells in the air and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings just a little more. If the saying “Dude, everything is going to be okay” was a musical album, it would be Uplifter.
There are a couple of less-than-stellar tracks on the album, but those few issues revolve around the poor choices in song structure. The verses of Neverending Summer is so great, but the two-note chorus sounds like a placeholder they accidentally left in during mixing after they got too high. Still, minor complaints aside, this is a well-rounded album that is sure to bring an even bigger smile to your face as you rip through the gears as the sun sets behind the purple mountains.
Best track: “Golden Sunlight”
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: Late afternoon through dusk, preferably under meteor showers.
4. The Living End (Mix)
I first saw these guys open for Green Day seven years ago, and I bought all their albums they had available at the show. This three piece band from Down Under write some amazing songs with intricate, yet still accessible hooks, riffs and choruses. They are like an angry Green Day with the talent of the Stray Cats. Australian power punk adds an energetic bounce in your step, and you could swear it adds an couple extra horsepower to your ride.
There are only a few albums available stateside, but the sure bet is to pick and choose a Living End set list that encompasses all your favorites. When The Living End puts a stinker track on one of their LP’s, it is really terrible. I think cherry picking all the best stuff from Roll On, The Living End, and Modern Artillery makes for one hell of a “Best Of” compilation that can’t be beat. Just be sure to include “Uncle Harry” or you won’t have any idea who the hell pissed in the bar.
Best track: “The Room”
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: This one works practically anywhere and everywhere. When in doubt, go always go with The Living End.
3. Fall Out Boy: Folie a Deux
This one is kind of odd choice, but no matter what, I can’t seem to ever have a crappy ride when I am listening to this album. Even on 100 degree days full of windstorms and stopped traffic on the highway, this album still manages to keep a smile on my face. With these great tunes, standing on the highway because everyone sucks at driving is just slightly less irritating.
While this album is considered by most to be a low point in the band’s career, I like this one the best because of the overall consistency. Really good songs, and a song in the middle (What a Catch, Donnie) ties together all their hit songs by weaving them in an amazing outro. The other nice thing about this album is that the song titles aren’t a paragraph each (that was only funny the first 2 albums, you guys).
Best track: w.a.m.s. (but not the second half where he’s singing in the shower-that is pure garbage).
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: Hot afternoons, and is a great way to take the edge off a shitty commute.
2. Alien Ant Farm: truANT
I know… these guys ended up only getting 3 minutes of fame, but their second effort is far superior to the debut album that got them onto the map. This album explores many different genres of music, from nu-metal to acoustic rock, to reggae to calypso. Everything, from the track placement to the album artwork is executed perfectly, making for a motorcycle ride that will feel like it was scored by Danny Elfman.
This is in my top 10 albums of all-time for a reason. I’ve probably heard it in it’s entirety at least 100 times, and I still don’t get tired of it. I don’t understand how this album didn’t go at least five times platinum. This album has an incredibly perfect summer vibe, and always sends me back to the seemingly endless summers in which I grew up.
Best Track: “Sarah Wynn”
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: Early evening, and night time as you ride through the lights and drunken idiocy that is down town. (tehben.com condemns drinking and riding!! I’m talking about the hipster morons falling into the gutters outside the 1Up!)
1. Quarashi: Jinx
This sounds crazy, but you don’t know how badly your motorcycle ride needs a soundtrack provided by an Icelandic band that cobbles together the best parts of Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys and Guy Lombardo.
These guys sample really old-timey record tracks, and then put their own angry rap-rock fingerprint over the original recording like a freshman on prom night. Lots of angry, yet melodic stuff makes you feel like you are in a really pissed-off version of The Great Gatsby. This frantic mashup of sound really brings out your aggressive side, and will focus your riding skills and help push you to exceed outside your comfort zone while riding.
Best Track: “Weirdo”
Best Ride/Time of Day Pairing: Carving up and down mountain/canyon roads, adding that extra edge of aggression that makes you feel like you are competing in the Isle of Man TT.
Or, When in Doubt, Make Your Own Mix!
Sometimes, a sweet playlist of different songs or artists is all you need! Here’s a small sample of my “VROOOM MIX” on my Zune, (no more Zune jokes, please):
311- Make it Rough
Less Than Jake – Oldest Trick in the Book
Allister – D2
All Time Low – Do You Want Me (Dead)
Mayday Parade – Jamie All Over
You get the idea. You just have to create an awesome, fast-paced mix tape love letter to your motorcycle. Just make sure it’s long enough to cover the entirety of your journey- people (and cops) get annoyed if you are dicking around with your MP3 player at a stoplight, and they get even madder if you fumble around skipping tracks while you’re moving.
Also, make sure that you don’t crank it up too much in your ears! Being able to hear traffic and sirens is still a pretty important thing, and the mail truck that takes you out will be the mail truck you never hear coming. Keep that shiny side up, you guys!!