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20 perfect songs for biking

Mount your phone on your headphones and get ridin'



Perfect Monon-biking listening - CAVAN MCGINSIE
  • Cavan McGinsie
  • Perfect Monon-biking listening

Music. Cycling: Two things that taste better together, the Jordan/Pippen of things distracting us from existential dread of our own deaths and the heat death of the universe. NUVO's made you a 20-song set to jazz you up while avoiding metal cans of horror that you must share the roads with. Remember: safety first. Get a bar mount for your jams – or listen loud in your headphones when you're posted up on your trainer.

The Psychedelic Trio: Two songs of the original psych era and one that cops its style. Psychedelic Trio is also what Bill Walton dubbed himself, Bird, and McHale after the three ingested LSD, peyote and other hallucinogens at a Dead show during the legendary 1985-1986 Boston Celtics season.

• "My White Bicycle" — Tomorrow This forgotten slice of psychedelic pop by these contemporaries of Pink Floyd and The Soft Machine is an energetic, propulsive hit single sure to light a fire under your ass to keep pedaling and burning off that beer you had at lunch.

• "Bike" — Pink Floyd The final cut on the UK release of The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, a stellar example of the tension between form and chaos that drives much of Barrett-era Floyd. Plus, the remastered version will sound great in your high-end headphones or earbuds.

• "Bike Ride To The Moon" — Dukes of Stratosphear A side project for XTC serving as tribute to '60s pop and psych music, this track is Barrett-era Floyd pastiche. It's another high-octane tune guaranteed to get your bellows roaring (lungs that is. For legal reasons, we at NUVO do not condone blacksmithing while cycling.)

International Feel: A set of tunes from bands outside the U.S. of A.

• "Bat Macumba" — Os Mutantes This classic tune was written by tropicália maestro Gilberto Gil and performed by Beck's beloved Brazilian mutants. Throw this sucker on to pump yourself up for the Rio Olympics and forget about the horror of the Zika virus, at least momentarily.

• "Ça plane pour moi" — Plastic Bertrand Even if you don't think you know this song, you know it. Trust me, it's cropped up in so many movies that as soon as The Beach Boys-parody "ooo-wee-oohs" kick in, you'll experience that Proustian-madeleine-dipped-in-tea moment. It's uptempo, disposable, and sung in French, so you'll feel like you're racing in the Tour de France (NUVO does not condone doping while cycling, neither the use of performance-enhancing drugs for competitive edge, nor the use of a controlled substance while biking. Don't toke and spoke, kids.)

• "Tally Ho" — The Clean The first single on the New Zealand-based Flying Nun label has ramshackle drums and keyboard, exchanging the drabness of British post-punk for more whimsical shades. It's another propulsive and infectious tune guaranteed to keep you moving forward, Schwinn Armstrong.

Funking Around: Now that the adrenaline is flowing, it's time for songs with a groove to help you lock in on a long ride. • "Vitamin C" — Can Used to great effect in Inherent Vice, this funky Krautrock tune will leave the listener feeling like the coolest person on two wheels. (NUVO also does not condone the practice of private investigation without training and proper authorization.)

• "Zombie" — Fela Kuti One of the best known songs by the Afrobeat pioneer is this scathing critique of the Nigerian military. Kuti's songs sprawl on and on, perfect for really digging into that exercise high.

• "Expressway To Your Heart" — The Soul Survivors A pre-Philadelphia International Gamble & Huff production that'll put a zip in your pedals – just don't pay attention to the canned traffic noises at the top of the tune.

• "Shakey Ground" — The Temptations This comes late, late in the life cycle of The Temptations and was written by Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel. If you don't need the funk while jockeying your 10-speed, you're just not living your best life.

• "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" - OutKast One of the best songs on one of OutKast's best albums. The horn riff keeps things moving and will be stuck in your head long after you dismount.

Jazz ...from Hell!: A set of tunes from oddballs and true originals; a shift from funk, but not without groove

• "The Sphinx" — Ornette Coleman The riff on this sucker is infectious, bound to be whistled the next day ... or the rest of your life. From one of jazz's true originals.

• "Angels and Demons at Play" — Sun Ra & His Myth Science Arkestra One of the true originals in jazz, music or life period. Sun Ra blended the traditional and the sci-fi impeccably — which roughly sums up existing as a cyclist in 2016.

• "The Message" — Kamasi Washington The final cut of The Epic, Washington's appropriately titled three-CD 2015 album. It's familiar and approachable, like a jazz standard but feels remarkably fresh. Groove to this as you coast.

A Shot In The Arm: Now that we've grooved and gotten in the zone, it's time for another burst of energy.

• "You Were So Warm — Dwight Twilley Band One of the forgotten greats of power pop, this is a classic single featuring the vocals of the late Phil Seymour. Power pop is the perfect genre of guitar-based music to keeping you motivated.

• "I Got Kinda Lost" — Chris Bell One of the original driving forces behind the late, lamented Big Star.

• "Tighter" — Paul Revere & The Raiders Most people know these cats from "Kicks" and "Just Like Me," but they were so much more than that, and this song proves it. Perfect for a lazy bike ride on a warm summer day.

• "Candy" — The Men Imagine The Replacements covering "Dead Flowers," 'cause that's basically what this song is. A gleeful ode to living in the moment and forgetting about tomorrow today, so basically an exercise high in song form.

• "Red Dragon Tattoo" — Fountains of Wayne Platonic ideal of power pop and it's damn funny to boot. When you're at the point of exhaustion, this'll give you a boost.

• "Needle In The Camel's Eye" — Brian Eno One of the pure joys of music is feeling like you're part of a piece of cinema. While living in New York for grad school, I was listening to this song while trains whipped past me on a subway platform. I've never felt cooler. You will too.


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