World got you down? You might need a relaxing album or two to listen to before you spin out and end up driving a metal stake through the mail man’s head. Here are some of the best relaxing albums you can find-albums that have the same effect as watching a few hours of Bob Ross, only your friends will make fun of you less.
Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production of Eggs
The music teacher and professional whistler has his major debut with The Mysterious Production of Eggs, a disk that Bird did almost entirely himself. He plays some great strings here and showcases some great pop songwriting talent. Even the energetic tracks are laid back, and Bird’s voice is reminiscent enough of Rufus Wainwright to calm the hell out of you while still unique enough to make him his own artist.
Brian Wilson – Smile
The Beach Boys released Smiley Smile after Brian Wilson, the group’s resident genius, spun out in a pretty unhealthy way and went a little nuts for a while. A few decades later, Wilson finally got around to completing his masterpiece. 2005’s Smile was easily the best album of the year, and it’s as close to God’s music as human kind may ever come. Tracks blend into each other as naturally as can be imagined and Wilson’s taste for excellent vocal harmony is as intact as ever. It takes a few listens to get past the fact the Brian Wilson’s voice has corroded somewhat, but if you can get over that, this is one of the greatest and most relaxing albums you’ll ever hear.
David Byrne – Grown Backwards
The former Talking Heads front man shows that he’s calmed down a bit since the days when he’d flop around your TV screen like a fish out of water. He’s backed by a string quartet and performs some really chill songs, including two operatic arias (one of which features Rufus Wainwright on the accompaniment vocals). Great album for Talking Heads fans that take their coffee decaffeinated.
Common – Be
Is rap more of your thing? Check out this album of grown-up hip-hop, produced by Kanye West. Common’s flow is eccentric and odd to the ear at first, but give it a little bit of time and you’ll find that as far as rap goes, this stuff’s some of the most meditative music you’ll find. The final track, It’s Your World, features a host of children saying what they want to be when they grow up. Try not to cry.
Beth Orton – Comfort of Strangers
The singer songwriter/sound experimentalist teams up with legendary producer Jim O’Rourke for one of the most chillaxing (that’s the combination of the words “chill” and “relaxing”, if you didn’t know) experiences of 2006. Marvel at her excellent instrumentation choice. Be wowed by her clever lyrical skill. Realize that the cover of the album is even relaxing.
This is a great disc from a great talent, and you’re guaranteed a few minutes of utter peace when you pop it into your CD player.