5 Bands to Listen to Whilst Hiking
Nothing relaxes me more than getting out on the trails and pounding out the kilometres while listening to some great music. The combination of great views, tunes and the fresh air turns an ordinary hike into something special. Hiking to me is an escape so what I look for in my music is great storytelling, worldly themes and something I can just sing along to in my head.
Here are some bands that fit the bill and make for a better hiking experience.
#1 - Coldplay
Always a divider of opinion, Coldplay can either be that whiny guy that has kids with weird names or a great example of the power of storytelling in modern alt-pop. I am in the latter group and enjoy Chris Martin's voice perfectly matching the expansive guitar & piano laden tracks. Some of their middle career work (mainly tracks from X&Y and Viva la Vida) misses the mark a little bit but there are still a plethora of quality tracks to be found. As with all great bands their best work is done live and thankfully they have released two live albums (Live 2002 & Live 2012).
Best Album - Live 2003 - From start to finish this is a great album. It may only have tracks from their first two albums but the way in which it seems like one continuous song is the reason why I love it. Hit play on this album and you won't regret it 68 minutes later when it stops.
#2 - The Killers
Has a band ever started out with such a mature record than Hot Fuss? I'm sure a few have but The Killers first up effort still stands the test of time today. As far as accompanying a hike goes, it has all the elements I look for with some truly masterful stories teamed up with some rambling instrumental work. Some of my favourite tracks to listen to include Everything's Not Lost, A Dustland Fairytale (live version), Read My Mind & Sam's Town.
Best Album - Hot Fuss - There is not one track on this album that I would even think of skipping and that is rare for a rock album. Every song has an identity and the track list is well planned out with mixes of upbeat and more melodic tunes.
#3 - Minus the Bear
If you haven't heard of Minus the Bear then you have been missing out. An American band from the West Coast, they are classified as Math Rock, which is basically expansive rock with heavy instrumental solos. They have a unique ability to immediately connect you with the lyrics and paint a picture of the world they are describing (an awesome one). While it may be more suited to summer there is no reason why you can't do a little day dreaming on your winter hikes.
Best Album - Planet of Ice - This was the first album I bought of theirs and it still remains my favourite. The guitar work is just stunning and their ability to perfectly transport you into their world is a gift.
#4 - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Californian funk/rock group have scaled the heights of world music with their own trademark brand of off beat lyrics, world class guitar work (on the John Frusciante albums) and an infectious energy like no other. The wordsmithery of Anthony Kiedis (his autobiography is a must read) is masterful and they have such a great back catalogue to choose from that you could only listen to them on a 15-20km hike and not repeat a song. Unfortunately they have only released one live album (which wasn't the best compared to their DVD release of a Slane Castle concert) as they are great live.
Best Album - By The Way - I am biased towards this album as it was released as I was coming out of high school and I had a world of opportunities ahead of me (and a summer of no work or responsibility). Bias aside this is still one of their best albums and captures a perfect moment in the bands history with their most famous foursome recording some classic songs.
#5 - Stereophonics
The Stereophonics were a band I only started listening to late in their career but I had great joy in discovering their earlier work. Thankfully just after their brilliant Love, Sex, Violence, Other album they released a live album (Live from Dakota) that introduced me to their previous work. The raspy voice of Kelly Jones is a big factor in my love for the Stereophonics even as their later work dropped off in feel and quality (avoid Keep Calm and Carry On like the plague). They have a great array of songs that get in your head and you can't help but sing along with, which is perfect for hiking.
Best Album - Live From Dakota - This is actually a two disc album so the enjoyment lasts twice as long. It is basically a greatest hits journey through the bands most successful and enjoyable period. If you watch the DVD of the concert it has such a classic appeal to it (Kelly Jones in a leather jacket and sunnies works really well) and really marks the peak of what they achieved (even if Stuart Cable didn't contribute to Love, Sex, Violence, Other).
Honourable Mentions - Kings of Leon, The Vasco Era, Skybombers, The Thrills, Foo Fighters & Oasis.
What are some of your favourite bands that you like to listen to on a hike?
Post your top bands in the comments section.