this post first appeared on zelda & scout on 8/20/14. it was co-written with kelsey goldman.
Every month we hope to bring you about an hour’s worth of songs that are helping us get through our big city lives. This month we’re picturing a southbound road trip: you can ride with us on Spotify or Youtube.
As vehicularly challenged Brooklynites, we often find ourselves missing the open road. So for this month we’ve crafted our perfect soundtrack for driving south on I-65: windows down, sunroof open, wind in our hair, destination unknown. In assembling this playlist, we might have felt a little homesick for Forecastle, our hometown music festival, and thus many of the artists on this list represent a certain brand of southern rock, bluegrass, folk and country that reminds us of home. Whether you’re out on the road or underground on the subway, this playlist should help you roll on through the last dog days of summer. Pairs well with a tall glass of ice-cold sweet tea and a hand on the steering wheel.
Hold On: Alabama Shakes (Athens, Ala.) – Start the car, roll the windows down, and ease on out of the driveway and onto the open road. This whole song feels like you’re pulling away from the sedentary life and starting on an epic journey into the unknown. Plus if Brittany Howard’s vocals don’t give you the strength to power through your quarterlife crisis-induced ennui, then we don’t know what will.
When My Time Comes: Dawes (Los Angeles, Calif.) – Ok, so maybe the lyrics to this song aren’t exactly uplifting, but there’s something about them that feels like a sense of purpose emerging. This song has a sense of possibility; maybe right now the world sucks or you’re just not getting what you want out of life, but there’s something better around the corner. It’s pulling onto the highway with the midsummer sun in your eyes. You can’t see the road ahead, but you know that just beyond the horizon there may be something greater than right now. Plus, we’re suckers for an a capella harmony closing out a song.
Lover of the Light: Mumford & Sons (London, U.K.) – It wasn’t so much a question of whether or not to include Mumford on this playlist as which Mumford & Sons song to include. We both have a bit of a thing for good-looking banjo players (especially Scout — cough Winston Marshall cough). With its escalating beat and roiling guitars, Lover of the Light is perfect for the open road; plus, if nothing else, the music video is an excuse to look at Idris Elba for four plus minutes (as if you needed an excuse).
Hey Rose: Houndmouth (New Albany, Ind.) – This is not the last you will hear about Houndmouth on Zelda & Scout. We love them. Together we’ve seen them a combined 15 times. They’re pretty much our favorite band of ever. Hailing from New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from the Z&S homestead, Houndmouth mixes a hard rocking sound with a Southern twang. This particular song is a favorite of ours, highlighting the mellow vocals of bassist Zak Appleby, with a bouncy beat that’s bound to get your toes tappin’.
Sleep When I’m Dead: Wheeler Brothers (Austin, Texas) – We discovered this group when they opened for the aforementioned Houndmouth two summers ago. From the first twangs of the ukulele, filling the Belle of Louisville on a steamy post-Forecastle July night, we were hooked. This quintet out of Austin is made up of real-life bros Nolan, Patrick, and Tyler Wheeler, as well as their brothahs-from-anothah-mothah AJ Molyneaux and Nathan Rigney. In our metaphorical road trip, this is when we start to hit the open highway, with nothing but asphalt and rolling hills for miles. There’s no stopping us now.
Jebidiah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party: Audra Mae & The Almighty Sound (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – If you haven’t heard of Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound, you are seriously missing out on some amazing, Southern-infused rock. This wild romp of a song will have you out of your seat as soon as it hits the chorus: It is pure windows down, chanting the words, hands clapping, good ole fashioned hoedown throwdown music. Basically, this is the song that goes on all of Scout’s party playlists…if only she could convince her guests that a song with the name Jebidiah in the title is “really fun I swear.” Also fun fact: Audra’s great-great aunt is none other than Judy Garland. So there’s that.
Cocaine Habit: Old Crow Medicine Show (Harrisonburg, Va. / Boone, N.C. / Nashville, Tenn.) – These guys are another Forecastle favorite (we told you we were nostalgic). You’d be hard-pressed to find another group that has done as much to bring bluegrass-folk to the masses as this septet. With infectious energy and tight harmonies, they always sound like they’re having a fantastic time, jamming on a back porch somewhere and riffing on classic Americana. This playful, lesser known track keeps us rolling right along into Harlan County.
Hot Summer Night: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (Waitsfield, Vt.) – So you’ve made it to Jebidiah Moonshine’s, and you’ve been there a while. The booze is flowing, the fireflies are blinking, and things are getting a little steamy. Grace Potter’s voice just oozes good times. Sure this song may technically be about winter, but it’s sultry and sweaty and sexy. You can feel the breeze in your hair and the sticky summer air hitting your skin as you dance on the roof of Mr. Moonshine’s shack, basking in the light of a harvest moon.
Bull Rider: Norah Jones & Sasha Dobson (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Grapevine, Texas & Santa Cruz, Calif.) – You’ve had a rough night. Moonshine, dancing, people called Jebidiah and the like. The AC is fighting a losing battle to keep up with the mercury, and you’re in desperate need of a cool down. Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson are your soundtrack into the sunrise. There’s something really comforting about hearing their mellow voices serenade you with the mantra, “Live Fast, Die Young.” Let the sinking moon light your way through the rolling hills as you creep further into Appalachia.
Truth No. 2: Dixie Chicks (Dallas, Texas) – Talk about formative, the Dixie Chicks’ brand of bluegrass/country girl power is what we grew up on. This is the soundtrack to the car rides of our childhoods, driving out to the lake or slurping down popsicles on the way home from summer camp. It’s abandoning the highway for a dusty back road, crossing the state line with your hand thrown in the air in triumph. We need more of these badass ladies in our lives. Reunion tour please?
Rattle My Bones: The Secret Sisters (Muscle Shoals, Ala.) – Yet another Forecastle gem, we stumbled upon these ladies on a muggy July afternoon, lying in the grass and sipping on watered down bourbon. This song off their second album, Put Your Needle Down, was made for singing along, with a steady beat that will keep you going on those long stretches of rural highway. Plus the music video is Folsom Prison meets Modcloth. We’re big fans.
At The Beach: The Avett Brothers (Concord, N.C.) – Nothing says summer like sand in your toes and sea salt in the air. The Avett Brothers are one of Zelda’s all-time favorite bands, and this song is one of their sweetest. It’s good, old-fashioned family fun, steeped in the ocean breezes of the Outer Banks. Corn hole on the sand by day, bonfires by night, where your only worry is whether to make one batch of margaritas or two (Hint: The correct answer is three).
Something, Somewhere, Sometime: Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore (Lexington & Cold Spring, Ky.) – This song is Scout’s current summertime jam, if cello and acoustic guitar can be considered a jam (when played by these two, they totally can).The stripped down orchestration paired with the tight harmonies hits you right in the heartstrings, pushing your foot just a little further down on the gas pedal as the miles roll away under your tires. The destination doesn’t really matter here: You’re just chasing the horizon.
Natural Disaster: Zac Brown Band (Dahlonega, Ga.) – The ultimate slow-build, Southern-fried power ballad of a closer. The whole damn world slows down as you roll to a stop, but nothing can keep you still for long. There’s a whole lot of world out there to explore. Very few songs sound as much like a Southern road trip to us as this one. Maybe there’s a thunderstorm rolling in, wind whipping the trees and the clouds billowing in. But you’ve got a cooler full of drinks, miles of road ahead, and this playlist on your phone. Ain’t nothing stopping you now.
Zelda & Scout