I recently wrote a quick list of Tom Petty songs to include on your road trip playlist. Below is an extension of that (sort of). Since we all know (and miss) Tom Petty, I thought it might be neat to make a list of perhaps not-so-common songs for your driving playlist. This list of songs is mainly inspired by my time on rock radio in Omaha, Nebraska (KIWR and KEZO) almost two decades ago. Where does the time go . . .
#1: The Rest Will Follow (Trail Of Dead)
There was an ad that ran in the mid-2000s for a service called OmahaHelpWanted.com. The tag line was “long name, amazing results.” That’s fitting here for …And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead, a Texas outfit described as everything from the more fancy garage rock revival and artsy rock to the more standard alternative rock. Call it what you will, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (shorted usually to just Trail of Dead) is unique with two drummers who provide the foundation for Conrad Keely’s vocals.
The Rest Will Follow appears on the band’s 2005 album Worlds Apart. Inspirations for the Texas rockers are as numerous as they are diverse, including Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Public Enemy, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Vivaldi.
#2: Paranoiattack (The Faint)
The Faint is one of the many Saddle Creek Records bands that made working in radio in Omaha an absolute blast. Just like today, in 2004, the world was also going off the rails, or so it seemed. The state of affairs at the time is wrapped up in this audio odyssey called Paranoiattack, track #6 on the Wet from Birth album. Seriously, only The Faint could piece together a string of what seems like random sounds into a coherent and collected commentary that appears equally as fitting today. In the studio, The Faint is something special, but I remember their live shows being on another level.
If you like what you hear in the video above, check out Fasciinatiion, which The Faint dropped in 2008. It was self-produced with bassist Joel Petersen serving as the record’s chief engineer. Their latest record, Egowerk, a reflection on the state of social media today, was released in 2019 and self-produced entirely by the band.
#3: The Recluse (Cursive)
One of the joys about working at 89.7 The River (KIWR) was that it was essentially a college radio station with an enormous 100,000-watt tower. Unlike most college radio stations, that meant we could cover a listening area on par with corporate radio stations, which we did all across the Omaha metro. While we did follow the standard music industry playlist, our claim to fame was playing emerging, independent, and local artists. That’s how I discovered a number of great Omaha music acts, like The Faint and Cursive.
At the time, Cursive was on Saddle Creek Records like The Faint, an Omaha-based label that does a 50/50 profit-sharing split with its artists. Today, Cursive is on its own label, releasing Vitriola in 2018 to commemorate the occasion. As for The Recluse, which appeared on their 2003 record The Ugly Organ, take a listen and see how you might interpret the lyrics.
#4: Nth Degree (Morningwood)
This 2005 punchy pop track comes with a bit of a warning. It will get in your head. You will be singing it for days on end. You’re welcome. Our program director at KIWR said that if any of us DJs made jokes about the band’s name, we would be removed from the air. That didn’t stop one brave jock from doing so, who was never heard from again.
Oh, about the band’s name: Morningwood. So there we were as DJs, a bunch of 20-somethings, mostly unsupervised at night, surrounded by high-frequency equipment that likely fried our brain cells, loaded on Redbull and Rockstar (and some of us probably other stuff too) while trying to fumble around a studio on zero sleep. But no, why would we make a joke about this band’s name.
Fun Fact: Mercury used Nth Degree in a commercial for the 2007 Milan. Mercury was promoting how the ’07 Milan was available with all-wheel drive. With $2,000 down, you could lease an I-4 Milan for $238 a month at the time. My how times have changed. Morningwood is no longer performing, Mercury is no longer selling cars, and today’s average new vehicle payment – anywhere from $500 to $750 per month – has shot straight to the Nth degree.
#5: Another Drink (Anchondo)
Héctor Anchondo has always been a musical powerhouse, a veritable beat factory that cranks out riff after riff in a similar fashion to how we build cars here in Detroit. After helming the Anchondo band and releasing popular albums like Rookies of the Year and The Audience Is Waiting, Héctor went on to play the blues. And did he ever. Anchondo took home top honors in the 2020 International Blues Challenge, a well-deserved accolade after struggling and starving the way many musicians do.
“Winning this feels like a reward for having stuck with music for 24 years,” he said. “I had flashbacks of all the journeys, sleeping on floors, years of sleeping in the van, overnight drives, no pay, credit card debt for the cause, broken-down vans, the list goes on.”
There isn’t a video of Another Drink on YouTube, so I will link to the track on ReverbNation. The video above is of Anchondo performing at the Ron Hull Studio in Lincoln, Nebraska.
#6: Word Up! (Korn)
If Limp Bizkit can marry The Verve and Mötley Crüe in the same song, and Kid Rock can mash Skynyrd and Warren Zevon together, and Eminem can go Berzerk on the mojo of Billy Squier and the Beastie Boys, then Nu-metal giants Korn deserve a stab at Cameo’s 1986 funk hit.
Appearing on Korn’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1, the Word Up! cover was joined by a rendition of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Korn absolutely nailed both cover versions, and until Godsmack’s take on Good Times Bad Times for their greatest hits, I had not heard a better cover by any band at the time. Shannon Larkin did John Bonham’s kick drum footwork justice.
As for Korn, diehard fans will fondly recall their early days with producer Ross Robinson. The band’s self-titled debut album ushered in a new type of metal, with groups like Limp Bizkit and Slipknot not far behind. Follow the Leader in 1998 yielded a bevy of hits, including Freak on a Leash, Got the Life, and Children of the Korn, the latter of which featured Ice Cube. A year later, in 1999, Korn would drop Issues with Falling Away from Me as the lead single.
Korn is still rocking. Their new album Requiem was released on February 4th, 2022.
#7: Why I’m Here (Oleander)
Before the days of YouTube and even before the days of that cool song player on MySpace, Oleander gained popularity the old-fashioned way: on terrestrial FM rock radio. While criticisms and cynicisms existed of Why I’m Here, their most recognizable hit from 1999’s February Son, the song does have that quintessential late ’90s and early 2000s post-grunge, hard rock sound (Heart Shaped Box vibes notwithstanding).
Later efforts from the Sacramento rockers would include Unwind in 2001 and Joyride in 2003, with only the latter receiving positive reviews for its sound and style. Following Joyride, the group disbanded but reunited again in 2013 for the Something Beautiful record, their latest and last album. The band remains on an extended, perhaps even permanent, hiatus, but Why I’m Here is still a good one for your road trip playlist.
#8: Sunburn (Fuel)
Like Why I’m Here from Oleander, Fuel’s Sunburn has that quintessential late 90s and early 2000s post-grunge sound. Most will easily recognize hits from their 2000 album Something Like Human, which included gems like Bad Day, Hemorrhage (In My Hands), and both Elton John and Led Zeppelin covers if you happend to get your hands on the expanded version of the album (thank you BMG Music Club).
By contrast, the Sunburn record came two years before with songs like Shimmer, Bittersweet, and the title track listed here. The Sunburn album was the start of something special for fans of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania outfit. Despite lineup changes over the years, Fuel continues on today with founding member Carl Bell back at the helm. Fuel’s work has also landed on a handful of movie soundtracks, including Sunburn, which makes an appearance in Scream 3.
What Are Your Favorite Road Trip Songs?
If you have something to add to this list, let us know on social media. I apologize in advance for the Morningwood song getting in your head; it really is catchy. Safe travels, and keep rocking!
Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. Before the automotive industry, he was on the air at popular Midwest radio stations KIWR, KEZO, KQCH, KJAN, and KELO-FM.