“Nice Weather For Ducks”, or “Chill Out Children”

“Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream,

It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void,

It is shining, it is shining.”-Tomorrow Never Knows

As I get…ahem….a little older I find myself appreciating the lighter side of rock music, a hell of lot more than I used to. I don’t mean the likes of Kenny G, or any other “Kenny” for that matter. More abstract, psychedelic music that slows me down a tad.

Let me explain further ‘fore you burn me in effigy. Albums like Air’s Moon Safari, later day albums by Nick Lowe, the melancholy side of Big Star, and solo artists like M Ward have gained in stature over the years, partly due to the growing need to chill out (stress of the job, loudness and chaos of the “fambly”, etc). These bands have been in heavy rotation on my man-cave cd player (man cave=my Mazda Protege) not because they’re quiet but because it forces me to sloooowwww doooowwwwnnnnn and reflect. A sign of maturity or out of neccessity lest I go completely bonkers. Whatever, I’m digging their mood, man. But almost all of my favorite contemplative-type albums have quirky qualities to them that separates them from the Jack Johnsons and the Jimmy “All-You-Can-Eat” Buffets of the world. They’re kind of weird and, in my opinion, alternatively creative. Left of the dial, if you will.

Mellow ain’t bad. As a matter of pure fact it can be downright essential at times. Some days It’s a Black Flag kind of day, others call for the mellow vibe of Brian Eno.  I am not scared to dip my toe into the soft, gooey puddles occasionally, and neither should you. Just make sure it’s good and creative, and for God’s sake don’t buy any album with the words air, speedwagon or Chuck Mangione in the title!

Here are some of my top late night recommendations:

Robyn Hitchcock, I Dream Of Trains

Roxy Music, Avalon

Nick Lowe, Untouched Takeaway

M Ward, Post War

Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express

Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys

Lemon Jelly, ’64-’95

Mercury Rev, Deserters SOngs

Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Massive Attack, Blue Lines

My Morning Jacket, At Dawn

Nick Drake, Pink Moon

Royksopp, Melody AM

Talk Talk, Spirit Of Eden

Van Morrison, Astral Weeks

The Blue Nile, Hats

Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding

Eels, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations