Now, straight-off, it must be prefaced: this blog does not have some underlying subversive libertarian agenda. It is also not operated by stoners (it is actually operated by functional adults with bachelors degrees or more…and in some cases, employment!). But it does maintain that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal, that it isn’t nearly as bad as things that ARE legal and shamelessly propping up the state/federal budget (i.e. alcohol and cigarettes), and that it can be enjoyed in a healthy, functional way (e.g. take a look at any Michael Phelps meme).
With that said, here are ten albums that really go well with a nice joint or packed, psychedeli-chromatic smoking-instrument–because the music is (not to say, ‘enhanced’) somehow a self-contained sonic adventure that is felt more experientially in an altered state. (Which is to credit the music’s aptitude for creating a multidimensional soundstage-of-sorts.) Let your journey commence!
10. Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Uprising
Okay so this has to be one of the most cliche things you can listen to while getting high. Not just reggae, but the most accessible example of which, heralded by every teenage stoner and wannabe Rastafarian who ever smokes pot for the fist time. But there’s a reason for it. Therein is the most exceptional optimistic feel-good buoyancy ever to be had or desired while rifling through a baggie of KBs. This album, while it has all the up-down beats and chirpy organs you need to call it reggae, also has some reggae-defying moments (perhaps hence the “Uprising”): take the morbidly baseline and respective groove of the song “Could You Be Loved,” which transcends straight-reggae and ventures into rock-we-respect territory. And then there’s the stripped down, acoustic-guitar tenderness of “Redemption Song.” Who cares if this is what EVERYONE synchronically pulls out of their record collections on 4/20 (or 4:20, depending on the stoney depths of the dweller)—unanimous approval is just the result of ample testing (and experimenting). Listen:
9. Radiohead’s Amnesiac
This album gets all in your head in a way that is conducive to willful paranoia. Replete with Thom Yorke’s signature clicks and crackles, and all sorts of avant-gardism, this is by far one of Radiohead’s most experimental, full of effects, electronica, and other things that defy singular genre placement. And for that reason, it is a fun album to traverse through. Along the way you’ll hear Yorke croon as if on some ancient jazz record, as well as onomatopoeic-whirring sounds as he sings about “spinning plates” (both forwards and backwards). And then there are lone-standing electronic texture-scapes that simulate the feeling of being trapped in the womb. Amnesiac is a sensory-overload. And just what you need when you are trying to fight off the ‘fear.’ Here’s the album in full:
8. The B-52’s’ Wild Planet
This band is a huge blast from the past in any decade. Prominent in the eighties (their debut is from 1979), they music they make is a hybrid between dancey post-punk riffage and fifties/early-sixties elevator music, with the hair, retro organs, and never-to-be-taken seriously vocals. When you listen to an album you can’t help but be wrapped up in the sing-song catchiness, but also feel like you’re watching some black and white commercial for sunscreen. Of course, the giggles will naturally ensue in you aren’t prepared for such a displacing time warp.
This band/duo makes no effort at hiding their affinity for all things psychedelic and ‘trippy.’ This is audible in brain-bubbling sonic inclusions sprinkled in-between moments of erudite 60’s psych-rock-harkoning and mind-numbing electronic squiggle-itude. Also, in interviews where in which it is revealed just how much ‘mind-enhancing’ goes into the creation of which. But that whole sonic trip is not just the product, mind you, of great drugs; it;s the product of great songwriters who are careful about what ingredients they add to simulate the taste of acid-and-mushroom stew. Listen to the whole album below:
6. Queen’s Night at the Opera
The album title is perfect, for the music contained is the most convincing interpretation of show tunes and classical music rendered into guitar-based rock music ever. And while the band’s affections for such high-brow musical genres may be of the utmost sincerity, it can’t help but become completely devoid of bombast, as Brian May’s guitar lines squiggle manically around what might have originally been a trumpet or something else common to old-timey-sounding music. Positive reinforcement is all over this album, and as your brain warps into a smile, try to avoid succumbing to the inherent vaudevillian comedy within. Imagine burning one on the way to the circus…That’s the feeling you get.
(1:05…wait for it…)
5. The Doors’ Strange Days
Strange indeed, and they are about to get stranger. This band has always been about creating enrapturing trances in lieu of music, and the title track is a great instance of their ability to procure reveries via a guitarist, drummer, keyboardist, and baritone sex god. Here in particular, the atmospherics are incredibly affecting (if ever you’ve desired to see sound, put on some head phone and do the deed). Elsewhere, Doors-style psychedelic rock is afoot–a perfect blend of lulling tranquility, and the occasional banshee-scream and lyric about “whipping the horses eyes.” It’s f#$%-in’ poetry man.
4. Bauhaus’ Burning from the Inside
Spooky atmospherics obviously raised on repeat listens of White Light/White Heat? Check. Tortured howls in frontman Peter Murphy‘s vocals? Check. Lyrics that play up and repeat ominous-sounding phrases and words like “hypodermic” or “those indians wank on his bones.” Bauhaus is the ultimate goth band, indulging every morbid whim and abject tone that can been exhumed from the cold, worm-ridden earth. If you haven’t the means or money to visit a haunted house, this album will do the trick just fine. Bonus: listen straight to the end to find that there is indeed light at the end of the dark tunnel, via the beautiful and shockingly-optimistic song “Hope” (which very much foreshadows the quintessential sound of Love and Rockets).
3. The Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile
The Beach Boys are no stranger to psychoactive drugs, and even less so to psychoactive melodies and song structures. Take this album, which by far has to be their most experimental/cheekily-pleasure-filled. And the lyrics are just as silly as the melodies. Just listen to the ostensible love song about vegetables, or the song titled “She’s Goin’ Bald” which is complete with dramatic soap-opera music. There’s a lot of nonsense afoot–with occasional forays into actual musical territory—but it gives off the distinct vibe that Wilson and co. made a b-line to the studio only after picking up the largest, most action-packed zip-lock bag they could find. Result, something surely as fun to make as it is to listen to.
2. The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension
Not just because of the song “Eight Miles High,” although it is a perfect thematic tie-in. The song best exemplifies the bands dabblings with psychedelia and experimentation both illicit and beautiful. The guitar atmospherics, namely via Roger McGuinn’s envy-inducing 12-string Rickenbacker, fill in moments of bright sunshine with a vital complexity that makes you feel like you are on some kind of jet-propelled, nether-galaxy-bound airship. And fittingly “Mr. Spaceman” is about aliens. Listen to this album and set your mind on cruise-control.
With song titles like “Sweet Jane” and “Heroin,” VU were vocal inhabitants of a drug-approbating 60s counterculture. The effect is directly transferred unto the music, to Lou Reed’s teeming-with-cool, sedated vocals, to mellow grooves that rub up against your brain like smooth silk and fill your dilated vision with a golden-amber hue. Their (of many) self-titled album maintains that soft ebbing grooviness that does NOT appear on their noise-punk-sperimentation sophomore album White Light/White Heat. And while tender gracefulness defines this album, it isn’t without a little avant-gardism (take the noodle-and-overlap-heavy and largely structureless—yet not aimless—”Murder Mystery”). This one burns soft.