Category Archives: WORKOUT PLAYLISTS

A Workout Playlist: David Gray

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

This is my last workout piece for MAGNET. Though it’s been a hoot, I’d like to pursue a couple other opportunities. In the column’s short history, I’ve written more than a couple pieces about mainstream musicians who’ve surprised me. Erasure, Robbie Williams, Carly Simon, the Beach Boys, Dexy’s Midnight Runners—each has had some sort of brush, long or short, with fame on the pop charts. But, they’ve each also made records where I’ve been taken aback by their ballsy candor. In wrapping things up, I wanted to write about one more of these folks: David Gray.

I’m never sure where someone like this will fit into people’s frame of reference. I love David Gray. But he was the first act signed to Dave Matthews’ ATO label. “Babylon” was pretty ubiquitous. On the whole, his music sounds like something you might hear in a farewell episode of The Real World. And his album sleeves and promo pictures are almost uniformly bad—lots of sunglasses indoors and moody shots. So, if you’re looking for reasons to talk shit, you’ll find them. Having said that, he’s a pretty excellent songwriter, which is what this is really all about anyway. As an example, I wanted to write about “Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today.” The track appears on Gray’s third album. It’s pretty sparse. And the song, as best I can tell, is about a general feeling of urgency: that you may as well get on with things, because forever is essentially a series of todays. There’s nothing here, probably, that you couldn’t have deduced for yourself. What changes this, for me at least, is the song’s repeated “Get out of the way!” Throughout the song, in talking about the obstacles, distractions, pessimism and so on that are plaguing him, this is his response. And as the song goes on, the sentiment gets more pronounced.

As I get older, my relationship with music changes. My needs and priorities change. But, this notion—this feeling he’s describing—is a constant: that all the junk that’s in the way is going to have to get out of the way. Sometimes, it’s my junk. Sometimes, it’s not. But it has to go. And almost nothing does a better job of keeping me on task than hearing a slight and generally folksy English fellow belt, with increasing forcefulness, that everything and everyone need to clear the path. So, if you’re looking for an excuse to hit the track, tidy up your desk or otherwise cut the crap, this might do the trick.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

David Gray “Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today”
Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today - Sell, Sell, Sell

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A Workout Playlist: Robbie Williams Off The Rails

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

I love Robbie Williams. I could probably watch clips of him (or Diddy, for that matter) dancing for the better part of an afternoon. I don’t expect anyone to share this love per se. But if you’re only familiar with him from his abortive attempts at U.S. success and from Jessica Simpson’s ubiquitous verson of “Angels,” I’d like to take a moment to tell you about Rudebox. The album, Williams’ seventh, is one of those that pops up every couple years where a prominent artist will abruptly (and often disastrously) switch directions. (See also Chris Cornell’s Timbaland-produced Scream and Lil Wayne’s rock effort Rebirth.) Rather than keeping on with collections of adult-contemporary ballads and club tracks, Rudebox finds Williams dabbling in hip hop on the title track, covering two ’80s hits, singing Manu Chao with Lily Allen, collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys on a song about the Pet Shop Boys and closing out the album with a remarkably candid pair of tracks about how he wound up in Take That and his ensuing departure.

Like I said, albums like this pop up every once in awhile, where it’s unclear if musicians have simply lost their direction or found a new one. In this instance, it seems like both. Accordingly, Williams sounds alternately relaxed, resigned and on fire throughout the record. And given that it’s much clubbier than his previous efforts, it makes for an inspired and curious workout companion.

1. “Rudebox” (109 BPM)
Rudebox - Robbie Williams

2. “Lovelight” (102 BPM)
Rudebox - Robbie Williams

3. “Bongo Bong/Je Ne T’aime Plus” (150 BPM)
Rudebox - Robbie Williams

4. “We’re The Pet Shop Boys” (135 BPM)
Rudebox - Robbie Williams

5. “The 90’s” (89 BPM)
Rudebox - Robbie Williams

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A Workout Playlist: Skrillex

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

I’d been meaning to write for awhile about my favorite new remixer: Skrillex. There are several ways to approach his work. Skrillex is Sonny Moore. If you’re a pop fan, you’ll know him as the guy behind a pair of recent Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga remixes. If you’re into dance, you might have seen him on tour with Deadmau5. Or you might know him as the former singer of From First To Last. He’s also released solo material under his own name and toured with Team Sleep. In short, he’s got a foot in the post-hardcore scene and a foot in the DJ world. Personally, I love his deconstructions of pop tracks. But, I’ve included songs below that touch on a few different genres.

1. Lady Gaga “Alejandro (Skrillex Remix)” (128 BPM)
Alejandro (Skrillex Remix) - Alejandro (The Remixes)

2. Casxio “Seventeen (Skrillex A.K.A. Sonny Moore Remix)” (130 BPM)
Seventeen (Skrillex AKA Sonny Moore Remix) - Seventeen (Deluxe Version) - EP

3. Horse The Band “Golden Mummy Golden Bird vs. Skrillex” (118 BPM)
Golden Mummy Golden Bird vs. Skrillex - Desperate Living (Deluxe Edition)

4. From First To Last “I Once Was Lost But Now Am Profound” (183 BPM)
I Once Was Lost But Now Am Profound - From First to Last

5. The Black Eyed Peas “Rock That Body (Skrillex Remix)” (127 BPM)
Rock That Body (Skrillex Remix) - Invasion of Imma Be Rocking That Body (Megamix) - EP

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A Workout Playlist: People Who Have Had It

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

This week’s playlist is devoted to songs by folks who are fed up. The first, John Lennon’s infamous post-Beatles dig at Paul, is remarkably slow. Way too slow for a jog. But, if you want to do push-ups, while fuming, he’s got your back. There’s also a catty track from Blondie, plus tracks from two of the most consistently foul-mooded British bands I know. And because I don’t want this to devote this to bitchy tracks entirely, there’s a less malevolent, more impassioned song by Laura Lee, who’s done mincing words about the perils of marriage.

1. John Lennon “How Do You Sleep?” (66 BPM)
How Do You Sleep? - Imagine (Remastered)

2. Blondie “Rip Her To Shreds” (124 BPM)
Rip Her to Shreds - The Best of Blondie

3. The Fall “Hit The North” (113 BPM)
Hit the North, Part 1 - 458489 A-Sides

4. Thee Headcoats “(We Hate The Fucking) NME” (130 BPM)
(We Hate the Fuckin’) NME - Elementary Headcoats

5. Laura Lee “Wedlock Is A Padlock” (109 BPM)
Wedlock Is a Padlock - Laura Lee: Greatest Hits

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A Workout Playlist: Dexy’s Midnight Running

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

Most of my albums haven’t survived the digital era intact. I do like the idea of an album. And I’ll probably always think of it as the “real” musical unit, even though I listen primarily to singles now. But like most anyone, I don’t like every track on every album I own. And it’s easier to just dump most of those than spend a lifetime skipping them when they come on. The point of all this is that I realized over the weekend that there aren’t more than a dozen or so full albums left in my music library.

Of those, one of the most surprising is Too-Rye-Ay, the sophomore album from Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Again, like most anyone, my introduction to the band came by way of “Come On Eileen.” And, while I was hoping for a little more along those lines, I wasn’t prepared for the album. The songs are uniformly excellent. But, I think the thing that separates it from the other albums that didn’t fare as well in my collection is the clarity of singer Kevin Rowland’s vision. I’m not sure that I have another album that sounds so resolutely committed to an idea. The band has a distinct look and a unique sound, the album has a dramatic arc, and the lyrical themes are limited to just a handful. In all, Too-Rye-Ay is completely wild. And it’s completely focused. Each person’s criteria for this sort of thing is different. But those are the two elements that usually push a record over the top for me. And I can’t think of a better one to illustrate the point. To that end, I’ve pulled together a handful of uptempo tracks off Too-Rye-Ay and the band’s debut, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, to which you can hit the street, the treadmill, the bench. And get lost.

1. “Let’s Make This Precious” (155 BPM)
iTunes

2. “Burn It Down” (134 BPM)
iTunes

3. “I’ll Show You” (128 BPM)
iTunes

4. “There There My Dear” (149 BPM)
iTunes

5. “Plan B” (132 BPM)
Searching

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A Workout Playlist: Nobody Does It Weirder

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

This week’s workout playlist is really just an excuse for me to write about one of my favorite Carly Simon songs. My exposure, until a few years ago, to Carly was limited to Bond themes and songs that may or may not have been about Mick Jagger. But my old roommate had her boxed set. So, I borrowed it, and as it turns out, she’s crazy. Not crazy like Kool Keith, but more like the way Shakira describes herself as “Loca” in her new single with Dizzee Rascal. Namely, she’s really just quirky.

There’s lots of proof for this argument: A song about a diplomat who can’t get over her (“Halfway ‘Round The World”). A song addressing her dead mother, wherein one of them begins to love the other like a river (“Like A River”). There are so many examples I’d like to use here, but the best for a workout is “All I Want Is You.” It’s a song about wanting some “Mack truck loving,” not a “man who tiptoes up the stairs.” Over a beat that could have come from the Mannequin soundtrack, Carly makes it clear that she doesn’t care what the neighbors think of “the sexy hurricane that we share.”

To that end, her craziness is usually limited to curious ways of expressing fairly ordinary feelings. I’m a sucker for all that. If you’re in the same camp, I’ve put together a handful of tracks with the same tempo (128 BPM), around which you can build a workout.

1. Carly Simon “All I Want Is You”
iTunes

2. Junior Senior “Together For One Last Dance”
iTunes

3. Michel Cleis “La Mezcla”
iTunes

4. Sia “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine (Stonebridge Edit)”
iTunes

5. Empire Of The Sun “Standing On The Shore”
iTunes

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A Workout Playlist: Recent, Guitar-Dominated Tracks

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

There’s been a rash of angular, wild guitar tracks coming out this past year. I’ve been trying to think of a touchstone—a track or band that might put all of this into context—but I’ve come up short. On one hand, there are songs like the title track of Abe Vigoda’s Crush, which is fairly ordinarily structured, albeit brisk and almost mean-sounding. On the other, there are tracks like Marnie Stern’s “For Ash.” I just got around to watching David Lynch’s Inland Empire this week, and that’s probably a better point of reference than whatever I was mulling earlier. Namely, both her new single and the film share a gauzy, dark feel, with sharp punctuation throughout. And in closing, I included Women’s “Eyesore.” It’s only fast for half the song. So, you may want to use it as a warm-up or cool-down track. But the chiming, Television-esque guitar work makes it a thematic match with the rest of the bunch.

1. Abe Vigoda “Crush” (170 BPM)
iTunes

2. No Age “Fever Dreaming” (182 BPM)
iTunes

3. Marnie Stern “For Ash” (128 BPM)
iTunes

4. Ume “The Conductor” (157 BPM)
iTunes

5. Women “Eyesore” (117 BPM)
iTunes

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A Workout Playlist: The Beach Boys

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

I didn’t start drinking until my fifth year of college. And this was right around the time I’d borrowed the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations boxed set from the library. I remember all of this distinctly because I was so awestruck by the latter (with some help from the former) that I skipped a day of classes and just laid in bed, drinking the weakest White Russians in history and listening to the session tracks for the then-unreleased Smile album. As a kid, my mom had made me a Beach Boys greatest-hits cassette. And the Smile-era music was the other end of that spectrum. But, in listening endlessly to the boxed set, I realized that there was a whole range of material that fell in between. Songs that were as catchy as “Help Me, Rhonda” or “Fun, Fun, Fun,” but were too quirky or didn’t quite chart as high. So for this week’s workout playlist, I wanted focus on the Beach Boys hits that my mom couldn’t fit on a 60 minute cassette—but that would have been the highlights of most any other band’s career.

1. “Darlin'” (127 BPM)
iTunes

2. “Do It Again” (118 BPM)
iTunes

3. “This Whole World” (119 BPM)
iTunes

4. “Bluebirds Over The Mountain” (127 BPM)
iTunes

5. “Heroes And Villains” (137 BPM)
iTunes

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A Workout Playlist: Synthpop For Jogging

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

I’m not sure why anyone would ask me who the Beatles of synthpop are. But, if anyone did, I would say Erasure. I haven’t actually given this much thought, but I’ve always had a general feeling that each decade or so has a band that can’t help but throw off brilliant hooks: Beatles in the ’60s, ABBA in the ’70s, Erasure in the ’80s. (I’m even tempted to credit Ash with the ’90s and Timbaland with the ’00s. But those are different conversations entirely.) And to whatever extent I’ve overlooked other obvious contenders, these are the first parties that sprang to mind. Anyway, the point of this is that when Erasure stopped spinning off pop hits, they started to make something equally magical. So, for this jogging playlist, I wanted to focus on overlooked gems from bands with synthesizers. To that end, there’s a high-energy track from Erasure’s artsier period, a cut from the Rentals’ sophomore effort (with backing vocals from Maya Rudolph) and one from Leiahdorus that takes pages from a variety of folks and binds them seamlessly into an overview of the genre.

1. Erasure “Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day)” (125 BPM)
iTunes

2. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark “Speed Of Light” (123 BPM)
iTunes

3. Leiahdorus “Childhood’s End” (120 BPM)
iTunes

4. The Rentals “Barcelona” (144 BPM)
iTunes

5. Pet Shop Boys “Viva La Vida/Domino Dancing” (138 BPM)
iTunes

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A Workout Playlist: Techno Love Songs

Chris Lawhorn, the resident DJ at Marie Claire and Real Age, reviews 300-400 singles every month, trying to find the best new music for a workout. Every week, he’ll be posting an indie-centric playlist for MAGNET readers. To vote on upcoming tracks, hear this month’s contenders and find more resources for matching songs to the pace of your exercise routine, you can visit his workout music site.

There’s been a fair amount of love discussed in recent dance-music releases. There’s always lust. And the word “love” gets thrown around willy-nilly. But in more than a few new releases, there’s been a tangible, emotional quality that doesn’t usually turn up in club tracks. I’m not hoping to break any of these tracks, as a couple of them have been out for more than a year. But I did want to highlight the trend and collect a few of the standouts. Robyn’s VMA breakthrough is an obvious choice. The Chemical Brothers’ “Swoon” is pretty succinct with its repeated reminder: “Fall in love/There’s nothing else.” And I’ve seen several publications call Underworld’s latest single its best since “Born Slippy.” And the song’s refrain (“It’s OK/You give me everything I need”) is … it’s transcendent. I don’t want to overstate the point, but all this emotional music has made me emotional! Also, it probably goes without saying, but since these songs are uptempo, they’ll likely work for a jog as well.

Check them out below.

1. The Chemical Brothers “Swoon” (124 BPM)
iTunes

2. Pedro Cazanova “Selfish Love” (126 BPM)
iTunes

3. Underworld “Scribble” (174 BPM)
iTunes

4. Edward Maya “Stereo Love” (127 BPM)
iTunes

5. Robyn “Dancing On My Own” (118 BPM)
iTunes

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