Songs for the Left Lane

fromKEXP

Helio Sequence art 300

Crafting the right music mix for your road trip can be as important as printing out directions: Both tasks require advance planning, and both are there to ward off dire consequences, be they getting lost or finding yourself stranded in a wasteland of crummy radio. The perfect mix lets you celebrate the freedom of being on the road, while the wrong mix cries out, "You're paying $4 a gallon for this?

These five songs not only touch on the concepts of movement and driving, but should also help keep you going just a hair over the speed limit — rolling along in the left lane, where you belong.

Songs for the Left Lane

The Helio Sequence art

Keep Your Eyes Ahead

  • Artist: The Helio Sequence
  • Album: Keep Your Eyes Ahead
  • Song: Keep Your Eyes Ahead

One of the best records of 2008 finds The Helio Sequence rediscovering its voice with grand, sweeping anthems. This is the epitome of driving music: driving beat, driving lyrics, all perfect for wailing along with the windows down. Keep Your Eyes Ahead's title track couldn't be better suited to repeat listens on the road: "Keep your eyes on right / keep your eyes on right ahead!" It's good advice, too, though it won't make much difference if you're going 105 at the time. Set the cruise control first.

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  • "Keep Your Eyes Ahead"
  • Album: Keep Your Eyes Ahead
  • Artist: The Helio Sequence
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Released: 2008
 
Cover for Sunset Tree

This Year

  • Artist: The Mountain Goats
  • Album: Sunset Tree
  • Song: This Year

"This Year" perfectly captures the desperation of youth, as well as the unwavering stubbornness required for survival in hard times. An all-time great driving song, it's also steeped in the imagery of the road, setting the tone early on ("I put the pedal to the floor / Headed north on Mills Avenue / and listened to the engine roar"). From there, The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle celebrates the power of the machine ("Six cylinders underneath the hood, crashing and kicking / Aha! Listen to the engine whine") and offers up a classic shout-along chorus: "I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me."

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  • "This Year"
  • Album: Sunset Tree
  • Artist: The Mountain Goats
  • Label: 4AD
  • Released: 2005
 
Gnarls Barkley art

Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)

  • Artist: Gnarls Barkley
  • Album: Odd Couple
  • Song: Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)

An album that's both uplifting and dark, Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple functions as excellent driving music. "Run," in particular, is all about motion and escape -- a natural combination, of course. It doesn't hurt that the track references the killer riff from Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." "Cool breeze come on in / Sunshine come on down," singer Cee-Lo Green sings, before later adding, "You better move / I said move."

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  • "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)"
  • Album: Odd Couple
  • Artist: Gnarls Barkley
  • Label: WEA
  • Released: 2008
 
The Ting Tings art

Great DJ

  • Artist: The Ting Tings
  • Album: We Started Nothing
  • Song: Great DJ

Arguably the best song of 2008, The Ting Tings' "Great DJ" is an upbeat pop gem with a chorus that's bound to get stuck in your head long after the road trip is over. With blunt simplicity -- sample lines include "ah ah ah ah ah ah ah" and "eee eee eee eee eee eee eee" -- you won't be distracted from thinking too hard.

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  • "Great DJ"
  • Album: We Started Nothing
  • Artist: The Ting Tings
  • Label: Sony BMG
  • Released: 2008
 
Cover for Silent Alarm

Price of Gas

  • Artist: Bloc Party
  • Album: Silent Alarm
  • Song: Price of Gasoline

Look on the bright side: Gas may be on its way to $5 a gallon, but there are a lot fewer cars on the road. Bloc Party's "Price of Gas" will rock your mix while smothering you with guilt, unless you're rolling in a hybrid. "I've been driving a midsize car / I never hurt anyone / Is that a fact? / The price of gas keeps on rising / Nothing comes for free." Oh, well.

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  • "Price of Gasoline"
  • Album: Silent Alarm
  • Artist: Bloc Party
  • Label: V2
  • Released: 2005
 

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Keep Your Eyes Ahead

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  • Album: Keep Your Eyes Ahead
  • Artist: The Helio Sequence
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Released: 2008
 

Sunset Tree

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  • Album: Sunset Tree
  • Artist: The Mountain Goats
  • Label: 4AD
  • Released: 2005
 

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