The first track on The Ultimate Playlist is “Silver Rocket” by Sonic Youth. It’s the second song off band’s classic 1988 record Daydream Nation. Surely being connected to the rest of those songs is helpful, but “Rocket” actually stands alone and sounds like a single. And that’s what makes this such a good pick for any roadtrip listening: you don’t need anything else. After an ominous intro, it’s a fiery, turbo-charged rush of guitar sound and tight drums. The vocals are crisp, and focused, with a sort of angry sneer. There’s even verses and a chorus; for a while, it makes sense.
And then it all falls apart. In a typical Sonic Youth move, the band cranks out a skwarking, feedback-fueled breakdown of guitar mayhem. The drums lose all direction, melody is completely chucked out the window. It’s disorienting at first but becomes both intriguing and exhilarating as time goes on. Just as you’re getting used to this instrumental wasteland, the band goes pulls it back from the abyss. It’s perfectly timed and returns to the pulsating, intoxicating intro riff. One last go of a verse and chorus close out the song. “Silver Rocket” is just so satisfying, so much fun to listen to. The pop-type hooks of traditional song structure pair surprisingly well with the crazed guitar sounds. Cranked as loud as possible in the car? Pitch perfect. Get this one on your radar and make sure you have it loaded for your next long trip.