If you're planning a road trip to Charlottesville, Chapel Hill or Athens, you'll need some tunes. We asked local experts to choose albums that represent the best -- past and the present -- of the music scenes they love, and to give us a few words to describe their choices. If you can't find some of them in D.C. stores, great -- you'll have something to search for at the record shops, as well as tunes for the drive home.


* The Experts: Mike Friend (general manager) and Jeff Reynolds (deejay of local-music show) of WNRN Charlottesville, a modern rock radio station.

* Classic Charlottesville:

{scheck} Dave Matthews Band, "Under the Table and Dreaming" (1994). The album that catapulted the world-beat-influenced jam band to fame.

{scheck} Lauren Hoffman, "Megiddo" (1997). Sultry singer-songwriter now based in NYC trills about the travails of love.

{scheck} Earth to Andy, "Chronicle Kings" (1999). Hard alt-rock reminiscent of Stone Temple Pilots.

{scheck} Pavement, "Slanted and Enchanted" (1992). Indie rock for the slacker set, with intelligent, literate lyrics.

* Newer Charlottesville:

{scheck} Hackensaw Boys, "Love What You Do" (2005). "Newgrass" band gaining nationwide notice.

{scheck} Sparky's Flaw, "One Small Step EP" (2005). Catchy, youthful pop-rock band.

{scheck} Soul Sledge, "When the Illusions Fail" (2005). New supergroup of local scene blends soulful vocals and heavy metal.

{scheck} Bella Morte, "As the Reasons Die" (2004). Goth/industrial band has Euro-following and is a stalwart of Charlottesville's goth scene.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

* The Expert: Gavin O'Hara, band leader, music journalist, 13-year veteran of Chapel Hill scene.

* Classic Chapel Hill:

{scheck} Superchunk, "On the Mouth" (1993). Indie-rock pioneers helped earn city the "next Seattle" misnomer.

{scheck} Zen Frisbee, "I'm as Mad as Faust" (1994, 1998). Greatest local record by a band that only the locals know.

{scheck} Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Hot" (1996). Hot jazz gets embraced by nuevo swing kids, sells millions.

{scheck} Ben Folds Five, "Whatever and Ever Amen" (1997). "Punk rock for sissies" (as Folds called it) offers breathtaking mix of the serious and the silly.

* Newer Chapel Hill:

{scheck} Kingsbury Manx, "The Kingsbury Manx" (2000). Mysterious art-pop guys make a local classic.

{scheck} Comas, "A Def Needle in Tomorrow" (2000). Beats-and-loops-age masterpiece of Lennon-pop from band now based in New York.

{scheck} Tift Merritt, "Bramble Rose" (2002). Grammy-nominated country girl has "star" written all over her.

{scheck} Moaners, "Dark Snack" (2005). Ominous tales over scary slide guitar.

Athens, Ga.

* The Expert: Jeff Montgomery, co-owner of Athensmusic.net, secretary for Athens music history project, occasional bassist.

* Classic Athens:

{scheck} R.E.M., "Murmur" (1983). The band's first full-length album has a hazy, Gothic pop sound and helped put Athens on the music map.

{scheck} Neutral Milk Hotel, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (1998). A classic from a key component of the psychedelic, quirky 1990s Elephant 6 collective.

{scheck} The B-52's, "The B-52's" (1979). Bizarre, unprofessional, fun and infectious, it was unique at the time and still makes people dance in place.

{scheck} Love Tractor, "Love Tractor" (1982). A breezy instrumental album from a major band of the early Athens scene.

* Newer Athens:

{scheck} The Glands, "The Glands" (2000). Straight-ahead Beatles/Kinks pop-rock sounds and rough-around-the-edges vocals.

{scheck} Drive-By Truckers, "Decoration Day" (2003) or "The Dirty South" (2004). Southern rockers tell tales of despair, war, drinking . . . but without resorting to cliche.

{scheck} Modern Skirts, "Catalogue of Generous Men" (2005). Strong from top to bottom with Beach Boys-esque harmonies and catchy melodies.

{scheck} Hope for Agoldensummer, "I Bought a Heart Made of Art in the Deep, Dark South" (2004). Haunting folk music of a sort, performed with singing saws, pennywhistles and an eclectic assortment of other instruments.

-- Ben Brazil