New Playlists!

Lo and behold: I taught a couple of spin classes this weekend, and verily did I create new playlists. It’s been too damn long! I was humbled by the challenge of crafting a good riding mix: this thing which previously came to me so naturally.

Nonetheless, we rode hard and we rode with gusto, valuing each drop of sweat as a well-earned badge of bad-assedness.

For the first class, I began with the delightful Avicii/Aloe Blacc collaboration “Wake Me Up” (get the remix below) and ended with Phosphorescent’s “Song for Zula” off the splendidly transcendent Muchacho. I was late to discover this album, but I have made up for my tardiness in sheer obsession. It’s been on constant repeat on my iPod, in the car, in the house…everywhere. I did not think it was possible to wring even more emotion out of June Carter Cash’s lyrics (“Some say love is a burning thing/and it makes a fiery ring”) than the Man in Black, but  Matthew Houck and his band bring 21st century pathos with the follow-up sentiments (“Then I saw love disfigure me/into something I am not recognizing.”)

Class two brought forth some vintage Kanye (liked him much better before the Kardashian connection, thankyouverymuch), a zippy remix of the Lorde track that is enjoying some zeitgeist, my beloved Bowie/Queen collaboration, and Sleeping at Last’s gorgeous cover of the Proclaimers’ iconic “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.

Full playlists and links follow!



Get some music:

Happy riding!

Every Word Handwritten — Playlist August 31, 2012

I don’t care who knows it: I really (really) like the new album by the Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten. I have a feeling that it’s kind of uncool to like the Gaslight Anthem; they’re a little Springsteen-y, not complicated or challenging like The Tallest Man on Earth or Of Montreal (both of whom I also love), and they remind me of blue jeans and white t-shirts and old cars with push-button radios.

But: this kind of music works for me as the end of summer draws near. It’s angsty, yet hopeful. I look back on the preceding sun-filled months and regret all the fun that I didn’t have, yet I am excited and invigorated by the crisp days ahead and their infinite promise of accomplishment. Of achievement! Of IMPROVEMENT!! And, songs like those on Handwritten give me the chance to sing along loudly (and poorly), to lament lost youth, and to feel a little like James Dean (in a totally middle-aged lady kind of way).

…and all of the above I used as a self-indulgent introduction to the playlist I used in spin class last Friday. Without really planning it, the list is all about grabbing life NOW, taking chances NOW, jettisoning the bullshit NOW.

The lead-off track, Marc Antony’s “Viviendo,” urges us to feel every moment—even if it hurts; the new Pink track (God help me with my shameful love of Pink) is battle cry to us to get ourselves out of shitty situations; and the gorgeous “When Your Mind’s Made Up” is a cautionary tale about what we lose when we can’t see past our own pain. For me, this group of tunes is a finger-wagging admonition of my own pettiness with a great beat.

I’ll sign off with the title track from Handwritten, a song that encourages us to put our own unique stamp on whatever we do. Happy riding!


Here Comes a Fighter

Lately the concept of holding one’s self to a higher standard has taken a hold of me—mostly because I realize that I am slacking off in so many important areas: I’m not writing hard enough, running hard enough, or cooking hard enough. I feel myself not fighting against the ruts in my days and not responding critically to the stream of truly idiotic thoughts that run through my old-lady noggin on constant repeat.

However, when I stepped on the bike last night (subbing in for Matt, whose shoes are pretty impossible to fill), I was faced with twenty amazing athletes: riders with heart and courage, willing to fight and sweat and put their best individual efforts forward. We battled. We struggled. We gasped for air. And in the end, even though we had each achieved our own personal workout, we finished as a team. Each individual breath supported and each single pedal stroke inspired another rider. It was pretty damn awesome…

 …and so were the tunes! Lots of new stuff on the list—brand new stuff from The Killers and The Gaslight Anthem (loving this new album, by the way), and a pearl-clutching track from the Japandroids.

Freebie alert:

  • You can get the U2 remix here and the Kelly Clarkson remix here.

New Playlist: 7-13-12

I cringe when I think about how lax I have been about posting music. I owe Michelle a huge debt for encouraging me this morning to get back on track.

My Friday the 13th started out pretty crappy: early alarm for 6 AM class only to step in cat puke as I exited the bedroom. Thankfully I had a packed house of riders ready to put it all on the line this morning. Their energy helped me get past the cat puke incident and feel better about the day ahead!

So, here’s what we sweated to this morning; it’s a little schizophrenic. I am so stoked right now about the Tour de France and the upcoming Olympics that I mixed my metaphors quite sloppily. We went from the French countryside to a Broadway stage to the medal podium to a bar for cocktails.

I am loving the new Metric album, even though the cooler than thou kids at Tiny Mix Tapes and Paste think it’s a sell out. Will I love it in three months? Dunno, but it got a stainless steel-esque polished sheen that seems appropriate for the blazing heat we’ve been having this summer. John Entwisle’s bass work on Eminence Front still gives me chills every time I hear it. The Muse track is the theme to this summer’s Olympic Games, so I am playing it like mad now because once the games start everyone will be sick of it in no time!

Happy Riding!


The puker.

I need a little more FUN. in my life (New Playlists)

Lordy, how did all of February go by without a music update?

I must tell you, music-lovers, that I am fixin’ to knock your socks right off. You will be sockless, and you may blame me.

Two albums have held me in musical rapture so far this year, and they sit at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. If emotions run on a bell curve, these two albums reside in the tails at either end. These, my friends, are first and fifth quintile albums*.

*Major props to my Statistics professor in graduate school. I can’t remember your name, but without you, this Latin-major undergraduate would have no idea what a quintile was even though it has a Latin root. Mea culpa.

OK: music. Sharon Van Etten. Have you heard of her? Google her. Now. I’ll wait. Then, go buy her album, Tramp. Seriously, I’ll still wait. This gem of a disc was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National (loooove), and Dessner’s production brings the beauty, elegance, and rawness of Van Etten’s voice to the fore. The tracks are uncomfortable but not overly confessional; torchy but not campy. Van Etten’s voice reminds me of Cat Power’s languid delivery on The Greatest.

My favorite track on Tramp (although admittedly not the best track) is “Give Out” in which she wrestles with her own self-confidence, berating (beseeching?) her lover with this lyrical locus: “You’re the reason why I’ll move to the city, you’re / Why I’ll need to leave.” It’s heartbreaking and supremely satisfying.

Now, jump over the bell of the curve, and land on fun. Yes, that is the word fun (little f) with a period. fun. Yep. Nate Ruess, lead singer and lyrical mastermind of fun. formerly headed up The Format, to whom I was introduced by my nieces Rachel and Meagan.* The Format joyously sang, mostly, of emotional evisceration. For reals, Dog Problems is the happiest sounding set of songs about bad break-ups that you will ever hear.

*These ladies are wonderful in countless ways, but I am forever thankful for The Format.

fun. just released their second album, Some Nights, and friends, I girlishly swoon over this album. I saw them at Lupo’s last week (yes, I was the oldest person there), and their live show is full of the optimistic grandiosity that the album promises. Sure, there are break-up songs, but also tunes that celebrate life and overcoming adversity.

The album borrows equally from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (indeed, fun. enlisted Jeff Bhasker, Kanye’s producer on MBDTF), The Beach Boys’ Smile, and The Bay City Rollers, with interesting instrumentation (I’m pretty sure I hear a harpsichord) and some vocal acrobatics. Nate Ruess’s voice—that voice!!!–is a stomach-clutching tenor that elicits shiny tears from me (joy? envy? I don’t rightly know.).

The lead single, “We Are Young” ups the coolness factor by featuring the gorgeous and supremely stylish Janelle Monae.

Get this album. I will personally refund your money if you don’t find yourself singing aloud at full voice in your car.

Finally: playlists. Here’s what we’ve been riding to over the past few weeks. Free music–a slammin’ remix of the David Guetta/Sia track “Titanium”— after the lists.


Get the David Guetta/ Sia track here.

Here’s your fun. for the day:

Playlist 1-20-12

I’ve had a few changes in my teaching schedule as of late, giving me opportunity to meet lots of cool new folks. One of the things I love most about my fitness avocation is that, daily, I get to witness dedication, determination, and positive change. The bike offers a new challenge every time we get on it, and when we approach the challenge with the desire to do better, we create some good in this world. I’ve seen some amazing good generated over the past couple of weeks, and I’m so appreciative to my riders for their sweaty efforts!

Here’s this week’s playlist. Free music at the end!

Download the Rhianna and Demi Lovato remixes here.

The Shins are due out with a new album in a couple of months—the first in five years, since the sublime Wincing the Night Away. “Simple Song” is an advance track and it sounds very Shins-y, full of exceptional guitar jangle, big-hearted melodies, and James Mercer’s lovelorn yelps. Get it here.

Happy riding!

New Playlists!

It’s been several weeks since I posted a playlist, so I’ve got two for you here today!

From December:

And now: free music! Go getcherself some fun tunes!

The M83 remix is here, the Jason Derulo is here, and the Black Keys* is here.

(*By the way, I don’t care what the New York Times says about this BK album. I still like it. I don’t think the NYT is to be trusted. I mean, they put Taylor Swift at #2 for the year. Really, New York Times? REALLY?)

Also of note, it is with great sadness that I announce the demise of the group Harvey Danger. Boo! However, the band is giving away for free a final song, The Show Must Not Go On, with the brilliant lyric: “You can bash your head against a wall; the wall will never change.” As a seasoned head-basher, I can attest to the truth of this statement. Damn walls. Read the NPR bit about it and download the song here.

This morning, for my 6 AM roosters in Pawtucket, we rode to the following. I shan’t express my regret that a certain bride-to-be wasn’t there to hear her wedding song. OK: maybe I shall. Kate, we missed you!!

What? Is that a different remix of the M83 song? Why, yes, spinners, it is! Get it here. And, have I told you too many times already how much I love Fitz & the Tantrums? Well, it bears repeating. This guy sounds so much like Darryl Hall*, it makes my head spin. Get the remix of Money Grabber here.

(*Young people: Darryl Hall was the tall, blond half of a duo popular in the 1970s and 1980s called Hall & Oates. They had many hits. Their lead guitarist went on to hog screen time in the house band for Saturday Night Live. Darryl Hall still has an amazing “blue-eyed soul” voice, especially in the ad-lib-to-fade portion at the end of any song. In high school I thought Hall was the second most stylish man in popular music, David Bowie of course holding the high honors. I’m still not quite sure what the Oates part of the duo did, but he had a wicked ‘stache.)

I’ll sign off now, hanging my head slightly in shame that I linked twice to the NYT and once to NPR in this post. Happy riding!

Something Special Happened Today

2011, for me, on paper, has had the fun sucked out of it.

My wonderful father, as many of you know, has been in a series of hospitals and rehab centers since a hip replacement went bad in January*. My amazing husband has had his share of unpleasant encounters with the medical community. I missed out on a fabulous trip to Switzerland and France. I haven’t written squat. Dear friends have moved away, and some people that I thought loved me apparently don’t.

*The take-home message: no elective surgery. Ever. Kiss that nose job goodbye. Also the face lift.

Despite the crap, however, I have experienced some profoundly affirming things in 2011. My family in Texas has humbled me with their love and kindness. Jay has continued to be my best friend and most ardent cheerleader. Friends have enriched me by spending time with me. And, I have had a kick-ass group of athletes ready to sweat and swear with me every week.

And these things, my friends, are nothing to sneeze at.

Here’s the playlist for my penultimate Wednesday spin class*. Only one to go!

*This is a lie. I also slipped in that scorching “Everlong” remix from last week. I’m weak that way.

Even better: here’s some free music!

Blacc reminds me a little of Sam Cooke or Bill Withers, singing old-school soul songs of the sort I would have heard on the radio in the 1970s, and I can think of no better way to presage a sweat-fest than with the lyric, “Something special happened today.” I also went back to the well with some of my favorite climbing tracks of recent history: Muse’s “Resistance,” We Were Promised Jetpacks’s “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning,” and Jane’s Addiction’s “Irresistible Force.”

The Aloe Blacc remix is here

The Flo Rida remix is here

The Icky Thump remix is here

 Happy riding!


Playlist: 10-26-11

I’m a little behind on posting the playlists, so here’s last week’s AND a couple of bonus downloads.*

*Guilt. Catholic guilt. Right here.

From the week of 10-26:

I am loving the Blind Pilot album. Very Portland-y. You can download their song “Keep You Right” here.

Also, I have been a big fan of Theophilus London’s latest, especially the song “I Stand Alone.” Last week, I ran across a remix of that song that I like even better than the original! And you can download it for FREE! Get the deets here.

And, just to be perverse, here’s a crazy cute picture of my cats, Chet & Whiskey, doing what they do best.


Do You Believe in Something Beautiful?

So, tonight I was itching for a workout: on fire to teach my 6:30 PM class, to sweat with my riders and cleanse myself of the frustrations of the day. Instead, I had an over-filled class (always a blessing!) and a kick-ass playlist that allowed me the privilege of witnessing the magic of folks putting everything on the line for their own fitness without the fog of my own workout getting in the way. Cara (Kara?) was game enough to ride the instructor bike tonight and I coached from the sidelines while 20 people gave this ride their collective all. The ride’s final push, to Ted Leo’s magnificent “Me and Mia,” compelled us: “Do you believe in something beautiful? Then, go out and be it.” Thank you, Gold’s Gym riders, for letting me witness something beautiful!

PS: Excellent job singing along with Bowie on “Changes”!

PPS: After class, I was lucky enough to take Judith’s Body attack class, so I got my itch scratched after all!