Just because you now have a little one doesn’t mean you have to start listening to lame tunes. There seems to be this belief amongst parents that children can’t handle “real” music. Thus the endless iPod playlists filled with acoustified lullaby versions of classic hits and classical music so dull it would make passengers take the stairs if they played it in elevators.
If you’re one of those well-meaning mothers or fathers, please stop inflicting this sonic garbage on your defenseless children. They don’t deserve it.
I understand though. You don’t want to amp up your tots so much that they won’t go to bed. As the father of a seemingly always-energized 2-year-old boy, I get it. I’m not recommending you give your child an introduction to Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger right before lights out. Rest assured, you can still enjoy great record and get your kids off to the Land of Nod on time. Here are 10 albums that will help your baby sleep without destroying your hipster cred.
Sigur Ros’ Ágætis byrjun
Keening vocals float over cinematic soundscapes, swooping and soaring like angels taking flight. These otherworldly ballads are guaranteed to usher little ones off to a fantastical dream world.
Best Lullaby: “Starálfur”
Bon Iver’s Bon Iver
The bearded backwoods balladeer’s second set sweetly soothes. Drenched with strings and rich production, it will help baby catch some zees then set the scene for parents to have some “quality time” together (if they still have the energy).
Best Lullaby: “Hinnom, TX”
Torch singer Beth Gibbons adds a haunting tone to this dubby, downtempo debut from the Bristol-based trip hop pioneers. Like a soundtrack to a lost John Huston movie, it boasts noir-ish overtones and jazzy undertones.
Best Lullaby: “Roads”
Random Forest Hibernation EP
More focused, but no less bucolic than the band’s name implies, these songs conjure images of a snow-drench forest. Perfect for cold winter days when you have the time to curl around your little one and take a nap together.
Best Lullaby: “Hiberation”
Nick Drake’s Pink Moon
The troubled troubadour’s aching swansong brims with plaintive folk tunes. There’s a charming innocence to his poignant wordplay, which will earn him fans who are young and those who are just young of heart.
Best Lullaby: “Pink Moon”
Air’s Premiers Symptômes
These slinking, sultry lounge tunes pre-date Moon Safari, the French duo’s 1998 breakthrough debut. This Serge-influenced synth-pop has the power to charm little listeners into thinking that falling asleep was their idea.
Best Lullaby: “J’ai dormi sous l’eau”
Beach House’s Teen Dream
The Baltimore breakout stars created a record that sounds like the Mazzy Star on methadone. Played at a low volume, these chimerical pop gems will act as a natural soporific.
Best Lullaby: “Silver Soul”
Beck’s Sea Change
Don’t worry, this is not a Beck record that contains not-so-kid-friendly songs like “Beercan” (which appeared on Mellow Gold) or “Aphid Manure Heist” (I didn’t make that up, it’s on Stereopathetic Soulmanure). This is the alterna-chameleon focusing on bluesy dirges and acoustic laments with stunning results.
Best Lullaby: “The Golden Age”
Richard Hawley’s Late Night Final
If Roy Orbison and Scott Walker had a lovechild, it would be Richard Hawley. His lushly orchestrated songs sound like they’re from another era, even though the UK crooner is a modern phenom.
Best Lullaby: “Cry a Tear for the Man on the Moon”
Various Artists, The Space Project
The spaced out audio tracks that form the backbones to these songs – by indie notables such as Spiritualized, the aforementioned Beach House and The Antlers – were recorded by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes. The resulting intergalactic collaborations are out of this world beautiful.
Best Lullaby: “Always Forgetting with You (The Bridge Song)” by Spiritualized
Nevin Martell is a freelance writer and author. He tweets @nevinmartell. His newest book is Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Pirahnas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations.
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