Refresh your Running Playlist

This weekend in Toronto the temperature is going up to an incredible high of TWELVE DEGREES CELCIUS!! sarcasm.

Truth be told, this buffer between cold and warm is my favorite temperature for running. Throw in the fact that I have found a few friends in my new-ish neighbourhood who also plan on crushing the Sporting Life 10K race in May, and suddenly we have ourselves a new running club that hits the pavement a few times a week.

running

A friend transplanted in New York saw this running group picture and asked for a playlist to help get her motivated to run.  I love getting requests for specific posts, so ask and you shall receive!  My playlist needed some refreshing, so after some digging, prodding and listening to remix after remix, here you go – a spring playlist refresh to help move your legs. (N.B., Alex: if you plan on running another marathon, this won’t suffice – it’s just over an hour of music ;) )

The challenge I’d love some help in resolving is getting this mix to my phone. Soundcloud has a free app for streaming, which is one way of getting this to work. Any idea how I can download/copy this to my phone so I’m not reliant on having a healthy signal? Advice is appreciated!

Happy running/gymming/listening and hoping this helps to usher in spring!

Top 10 Albums of 2013

The time of year has come again for me to make a list of the tunes that have dominated my speakers over the past year. Often my favorite albums correlate with the live shows I’ve seen, since I always try to intimately get to know a new album before I see a band perform it. Inevitably, there are two or three albums that dominate my waking hours and keep me from getting out there and listening to new stuff. This year, Rhye’s Woman, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories became the subjects of my obsession.

I’m getting ready to take a big, long vacation and it couldn’t come at a better time. For one, it’s freezing out and I’m escaping winter. Secondly, as my favorite sources of music news and reviews start to release their top 10 / 25 / 50 / 100 albums of the year, the list of albums I’ve somehow overlooked over the past year is growing and I get to refresh my iPod with tons of new music. So far on my list: Tennis, Grizzly Bear, Childish Gambino, M.I.A., Burial, Crystal Antlers, Volcano Choir and Juana Molina; these are the artists that will keep me company on planes, trains and beaches.

I was looking back on my favorite albums of 2012 and I realize that I’m still listening to those albums. My favorite albums of 2013 will no doubt remain on rotation, because a favorite album is one that you never tire of. Albums where after each play, you change your mind on which is your favorite track and each new listen has you noticing a different riff, new lyrics and new layers – these are worthy of being favorites.

Once again, in no particular order (because that is just a migraine waiting to happen), my top 10 albums of 2013:

2013 top 10

  1. Rhye – Woman
  2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
  3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  4. Tegan & Sara – Hearthrob
  5. Arctic Monkeys – AM
  6. Haim – Days Are Gone
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
  8. Austra – Olympia
  9. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  10. Kid Cudi – Indicud

Good Music on the Radio. Finally.

For all of my car-less “adult” life, my radio listening has been limited strictly to talk radio. My alarm clock has been permanently set to CBC Radio 1 at 99.1 on the dial. On weekdays I wake up to Matt Galloway’s voice on Metro Morning and try to tune into Jian Ghomeshi on Q later on in the day. The weekends vary between This is That, Definitely Not the Opera and Vinyl Cafe, depending on what time I rise. I have big love for CBC, but let it be known that the constant playing of Julie Black, Maestro Fresh Wes and K-OS isn’t what draws me in.

Until lately, what have been my radio station choices in this city? Certainly not 102.1 The Edge, which seems to play a recycled playlist from the 90’s consisting solely of Weezer, Nirvana, Oasis, Sublime and Our Lady Peace.

indie

The great news is that we now have a great (not just decent!) radio station in Toronto: Indie88 at 88.1 on your FM dial. The station is playing a variety of music and is letting listeners dictate the tunes on rotation. I’ve been listening to the station online in anticipation, and since its launch on September 3rd, it has not disappointed me. The commercial breaks are minimal, idle chit chat from DJs is slight and when it does exist, it is relevant and interesting (read: music news you care about). Remember way back when MuchMusic played actual music videos and it was exciting for music fans? That’s what Indie88 is to radio today. No terrible programming.

Of course it’s awesome, music guru Alan Cross is on the programming team. The station also has Dave Bookman (head of my favorite Nu-Music Night every Tuesday at the Horseshoe Tavern), Matt Hart (of the Russian Futurists, an awesome Canadian indie band) and Raina Douris (know-all in Toronto’s music scene and a Twitter fave of mine) all on board.

Indie88 has found a delicate balance of playing older tunes that you miss hearing and make you go “Awww!”, not “Ugh.” Case and point: we don’t need to hear Radiohead’s “Creep” anymore, but “Reckoner” has yet to be overplayed and is most welcome! The station has an ear for great new Canadian tunes (Austra, Hey Rosetta!, Library Voices), other hot indie darlings (Said the Whale, Atlas Genius, HAIM, Local Natives) and bands I previously thought were pretty obscure and get downright excited to hear over the airwaves (particularly, Louis XIV).

This post may not be news to most of you, but I’d hate to know that even a few of you are still listening to Nickelback-friendly radio stations when you don’t have to be!

NXNE 2013

One of my favorite times of the year in Toronto is coming up: NXNE Music Festival. This year’s lineup features an incredible 1000 artists and 30 films at over 50 stages across the city between Wednesday June 12th and Sunday June 16th. There’s a business aspect to this festival, but for the purpose of music lovers like you and I, I’m sticking to the live music here. Wristbands are still available for $60, which will get you in + out access to all the shows (subject to capacity, of course), single day wristbands can be yours for $30, and there’s also the option of just paying cover at single venues.

NXNE_logo

For those not interested in running around between venues, possibly waiting in line, or spending your hard earned bucks on bands you don’t know, I highly recommend you pick a venue, go early and stick it out for the night and see what the stage presents you. The Great Hall, The Horseshoe Tavern, Lee’s Palace, BLK BOX, and the Dakota Tavern are fail safes for good tunes every year. Yonge & Dundas Square also has an incredible line-up of FREE shows each night featuring headliners Ludacris, Billy Talent, Social Distortion, and certainly the most anticipated act in my social circles: The National.

Did I mention that there will be 1000 artists? Clearly I couldn’t dig through each and every artist to give you the most perfect list of recommendations ever, but I’ve surely done my darnedest. Aside from the list below, I have to give a shout out for the hilarious band names that I came across:  1992 Toronto Blue Jays, The Mouthbreathers, HORMOANS, Vagina Panther (I can’t make these things up).

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Rhye & Coachella

Monday.

This time last year we had just spent the weekend watching the likes of Radiohead, Bon Iver, Calvin Harris, Black Keys, and of course, how could I forget: Tupac. Last year the sun was hardly bearable and the crowds were often obnoxious. This year I particularly loved the sets by Blur, Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Infected Mushroom, the Lumineers, the DJ set by Moby, and Nick Cave. Sure, maybe I missed the heat and the crowd’s energy, but this year I could see the stage, hear the music, have a drink in my hand and catch sets by artists on different stages at the same time – all from the comfort of my couch.

For the entire weekend, Coachella streamed sets live on YouTube, and if you didn’t know, now you do and you can catch it all for the festival’s second weekend starting this Friday. Just remember the time difference between California and Toronto – I had some pretty late nights this weekend waiting for my favorite acts to hit the stage!

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