PLAYLIST: Bambara’s Greatest Hits from the Tour Van

After breaking from touring just long enough to record their fifth album, the post-punk band give us their fav aux cord picks.

If you’re into guitars and live music, it almost seems unlikely that you haven’t caught Bambara haunting the stage prior to a headlining set from your favorite band. Flaunting their Nick Cave–derivative brand of post-punk in front of audiences anticipating the chaos of bands like IDLES, METZ, Daughters, Girl Band, and Uniform, the Athens-bred trio have accumulated a cult following in recent years, with plenty of help from their 2018 Wharf Cat debut Shadow on Everything.

On Friday, the group—comprised of brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and William Brookshire—will be following that release up with another dark, death-obsessed LP entitled Stray. “Most of the songs are about different characters’ futile attempts at living meaningful lives under the weight of imminent annihilation,” Reid put it bluntly in an early press release. Even the songs meant to counter the doom-and-gloom acid-western soundscape get under your skin, with early single “Serafina” sounding like an apocalyptic jaunt through grimy New York streets.

This certainly isn’t the energy in their tour van, though, as evinced by a brief playlist the group threw together to give us an idea of what they’re jamming every day before hitting the stage. “We’ve done a lot of touring over the last couple of years and we all switch off DJ duties in the van,” they explain. “So we decided to make a collection of our favorite songs from the road or at least the ones we return to the most.”

Enjoy the brief tracklist below, with commentary from the band, and pre-order your copy of Stray here. And yeah, they’re touring for the foreseeable future.

Martin Dupont, “Your Passion”

Blaze: Perfect for hangovers on the road. That synth drone folds up into your brain wrinkles in just the right way. The moaning call and response is helpful too. 

Alicia Keys, “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)”

William: I’m a better person for the few short minutes that I listen to this song. My emotional depth increases a hundredfold. We would listen to it in the green room before going on stage. 

John Maus, “Bennington”

William: Such a good driving song. This one is just a ripper, and the music video is fire. It’s all clips from a Vanilla Ice movie that lucked out with insane cinematography. 

Lee Moses, “Bad Girl”

Blaze: This is perfect for late night drives after shows while you still have some adrenaline left in you. The way all the mics blow out, and his voice; you can’t deny the excitement. 

Snowy Red, “Madman”

Reid: Bleak, catchy, minimalistic, electronic, ass-shaker.

Laurie Anderson, “Transitory Life”

Blaze: Laurie Anderson has been a constant throughout all of our tours. She’s one artist we can all agree on. I do think this song from Homeland is probably our most played. It just stops you in your tracks and really locks you in while you’re driving at night. 

Tim Maia, “Réu Confesso”

Blaze: This song picks me up from the depths immediately. Perfect to get you through those long gray drives. It just sounds like sunshine. 

Thin Lizzy, “Little Girl in Bloom”

William: Possibly the best come-down song I’ve ever heard. Last song of the night. Fall asleep in the car. Get off your high horse and lament what could have been. 

XTC, “Complicated Game”

Blaze: Brilliant song. Pure anxiety. Absolutely horrible for when you can’t find the venue or when you’re running late. 

Neil Young, “On the Beach”

Blaze: Another great hangover jam. All worries wash away. 

William: I’ve been told my hips twitch involuntarily in rhythm with the guitar solos in this song. 

Anna Domino, “Land of My Dreams”

Blaze: This is another one that just grabs a hold of you from the beginning. It really captures that feeling of longing that you get from being away for long periods of time.

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