Recently, my doctor told me that I needed to start adding daily exercise into my life. It turns out that sitting in the dark staring at a blank MS Word document until blood comes out actually isn’t a good replacement for 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical. This was fine for me because a good workout playlist is one of my favorite thigs in the world. I’ve been mostly pounding the simulated pavement to Mortiis’ The Smell of Rain and Lights’ Skin & Earth, but I decided to start delving into our local acts to see who might be worth working up a sweat to. If you want to buy local and get fit at the same time, here are some fine tunes for your workout playlist.
10. The Suffers, “Gwan”
Yeah, there was no way that a Best of Houston Music top-ten list in this day and age wasn’t going to include The Suffers. “Gwan” is the perfect track to get a body moving, with a nice, smooth intro that builds easily into a good, steady groove. If you’re just starting in the workout game, it’s also a perfect track for the micro-routine until you can handle a longer one.
9. Los Skarnales, “Bomba 48”
Let’s take it old school. This classic Skarnales track from 1997 pairs perfectly with “Gwan” and bookends some of the most definitive Houston music from the last two decades. That surf guitar is the perfect lure for a good exercise rhythm.
8. Funeral Horse, “Working Man”
I promised myself that I would keep this article cover free, but I think it’s actually illegal to not have Rush’s “Working Man” in some form at least near your playlist. Funeral Horse’s Sabbath-esque take is a worthy addition tribute to the original as well as a good iron pumping track. The guitar breakdown at the end, though gnarly, is probably a good time for a drink of water or to switch machines.
7. Bozo Porno Circus, “Restrained/Retrained”
Here comes another old school track and my obligatory shout-out to the glory days of Tone Zone Records. “Restrained/Retrained” is both classic Houston goth greatness and workout gold for the second leg of a routine. Clocking in with over six minutes of pure, dark-ass beat it will keep even the regular gym rats going. Plus, the official video seen above is a wonderful vision board for desired physical results. We grew some fine looking spooky kids down here in the ‘90s.
6. Only Beast, “Werebird”
Peter Bernick, John Salinas, and Danielle Reneé are arguably my favorite musical trio in the city. “Werebird” is a slow, but powerful burn of a song with a lot of energy that instantly gets me in the mood to push myself to the limit. It’s sort of a sad tune for this sort of playlist, but the throbbing vibe makes up for it.
5. The Wheel Workers, “Citizen Incorporated”
Here’s another from the, “Well, Duh” file. “Citizen Incorporated” is one of the greatest songs from a Houston treasure, and it has all the oomph anyone could ask for in the gym.
4. The Judy’s, “Milk”
I tend towards some of the darker tracks in Houston’s history, so how about something upbeat? “Milk” is both peppy running track and good nutrition advice for the discerning chap or chappette keen to get in shape. It’s silly, it’s cheesy it’s fun AF.
3. DJ Sun, “Monday Drive”
It’s got kind of a gamey start for a workout song, but once it gets going it holds on nice and tight. DJ Sun can always be counted on to keep things on an even keel, and “Monday Drive” should serve you well during a valley in your workout. I like it during cooldown on a bike with no resistance myself.
2. Hearts of Animals, “Money for That”
This actually popped up out of nowhere on my iPod shuffle the other day, and I had completely forgotten all about it. I generally prefer Hearts of Animals more ethereal work, but as pop punk goes “Money for That” is a gem. At the very least the music video lets you fantasize about all the vices your working off.
1. The 71’s, “Start Again”
Speaking of goals, I leave you with one of the first acts I ever covered. Keeton Coffman invaded a local Walmart to speed-film a music video, which is the sort of thing when you’re quick and fit. The message of the tune is good for motivation, too. I can’t speak for any of you, but nothing makes me want to work out like prepping for whimsy, music and mayhem. Enjoy your sweat, and leave your suggestions for anyone we missed in the comments!
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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.