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Vinyl Views is our weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team (Shayne and Jaxon), and reveal picks from guest contributors.  This week we hear album recommendations from our customer Joe Levora (who returned a VV submission in record time, immediately earning him Platinum Status!)

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My name is Joe Levora. I live in Oak Lawn with my wife and two children. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I can still remember my older brother handing me a cassette copy of R.E.M.’s album, Document when I was in junior high. I listened to that album and it felt like coming home. That was a long time ago, but my love for music has stuck with me. I am always looking for that song I have never heard or that band that has slipped under my radar. It’s a lot of fun. In addition to listening to music, I have also had the good fortune to collaborate with some super talented friends over the years in bands. I play guitar passably well and can fake my way around a keyboard. These days when I write or play music it is usually me, my laptop and a microphone. I have a Bandcamp and SoundCloud page if you want to check out what I have been up to recently. Also check out Bullyhuff!  Let’s get to my vinyl views.

Artist: Possible Humans
Album: Everybody Split

Australia has no shortage of great bands and Possible Humans is another in the long line. This record is fantastic from beginning to end. Songs that travel up and travel down, bass lines that are melodic when need be and rock solid, repetitive when necessary. Mostly clean guitars, but there is some delay and distortion at just the right times. These guys can play and they put together an album that’s pop enough to bring in the listener looking for a good melody and hook but also daring enough to attract the listener who is looking for something a little odd and off kilter every now and then.

Check out the track Aspiring To Be A Bloke.


Artist: Mint Mile
Song: Ambertron

Can music sound familiar and new at the same time? The answer, especially after listening to this record, is a resounding, yes. I have been a fan of Tim Midyett’s various musical projects for years. With Mint Mile, he delivers once again. The familiar part, here, is the instruments. We have your standard set up of vocals, guitars, bass and drums, supplemented by various
keyboard sounds, synth and strings, along with some trumpet for good measure. Nothing crazy, right? It’s the way all of these elements come together, along with the recording itself which gives it the uniqueness. Midyett’s vocal phrasing is anything but predictable. He will put vocal
lines here and there. When you least expect it, in comes a line. But it fits. It creates character. It’s original and it is fantastic. And the music is just as interesting. These men and women can play. If you are looking for standard verse, chorus, bridge kind of songwriting, this is not quite the record to find it, although, again, it’s not like this is some crazy experiment in sound. There is melody and there are discernible songs. They are just, new. Finally, if none of the above has
peaked your interest, the sound of this record is amazing. I’m no expert in the intricacies of sound recording, but there is something special going on here. Everything is in the exact sonic
space it should occupy. On every song. That is the best I can do to sum it up.

Check out the track Likelihood.


Artist: Oh Sees
Album: Facestabber

This band, also known as Thee Oh Sees, Osees, OCS and a bunch of other variations on the name, is a go to when someone asks for a band to recommend. There is a psychedelic, garage, punk, krautrock thing going on with these guys. I could have picked one of many of their massive catalog of recordings, but I am going with Face Stabber because I love the cover. This record is heavy. Two drummers, guitars, synth, keyboard and bass. The songs have a hypnotic repetitiveness, similar to a band like Can or Neu!, but much more intense. Frontman, John Dwyer, has the voice of a demon, sometimes whispering lines while at other times emitting yelps with the mic completely encased in his mouth. With this music, it works. Dwyer’s guitar
lines are scorching, the doubled up drums pound and the bass rides it all sinisterly underneath. I sometimes imagine that if I turn this record all the way up, I will feel my face melt. If you are into a similar face melting sound, you can’t go wrong with this record. Also, if you get a chance to see these guys play live, don’t pass it up. They are fantastic. Just get ready to be
involuntarily moved about if you stand anywhere near the front. The crowd tends to become an instrument of its own.

Check out the track Psy-Ops Dispatch.

Artist: Bread
Album: Anthology Of Bread

Jaxon got me wondering what I’ve listened to more than anything else. What a question right? Would it be Zappa?  Cranberries?  Basically impossible to answer…  Until my alarm went off this morning!  I’ve had Dismal Day by Bread set as my alarm for years now, which has to make it a contender!  I’ve always loved Bread and this is the definitive collection of their work, 20 tracks of mellow, sing-along goodness without one stinker.  

Check out the track Dismal Day.


Artist: Various
Album: Street Jams Electric Funk Part 2

Back in my high school years we had limited venues but went to see a lot of local bands perform. Some were legitimately great, others less so.  On at least one occasion when the live music wasn’t winning the crowd, we queued up this comp in my car and inspired a dance party in the parking lot as an alternative.  Before this writing I had to call my friend and confirm that this was indeed a thing that happened and not just a daydream I had!

Check out the track Egypt, Egypt.


Artist: Various
Album: Dirty Dancing

Not only is this one of my favorite movies, it has one of the all-time absolute best soundtracks ever full stop! From the iconic (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life to The Ronettes to Mickey & Sylvia, how do you even pick ONE song to feature?! Ultimately the choice was made for me by the man himself, glaring at me from behind my bar counter just DARING me not to pick his cut.  Alright Swayze, I hear ya.

Check out the track She’s Like The Wind.

Artist: Liars
Album: They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Mountain On Top

This Liars album is a dynamic blast of noise and I love it. It comes from that sweet spot in the early 2000s where there was a small resurgence in post-punk and noise bands. Of all the albums to come out of that movement, this one sticks out to me. The lurching and rhythmic song structures give it a dramatic feel. If you are a fan of post-punk, noise rock, or any of the revival stuff, this one is a must-listen.

Check out the track Loose Nuts On The Veladrome.


Artist: Refused
Album: The Shape Of Punk To Come

This album title isn’t a lie. It accurately predicted what shape punk would take in the coming years perfectly. Along with being extremely influential, this album is simply awesome to jam to. It draws from multiple influences to create a diverse sound that seamlessly flows from one track to another. It often sounds like a sketchy broadcast from a shady radio station.  What could be better than that?

Check out the track Protest Song ‘68.


Artist: Lightning Bolt
Album: Hypermagic Mountain

This album is fast, loud…and fast…and loud. What else would you expect from a lightning bolt? It is a very high octane blend of noise that will leave your head spinning. It is a boost of adrenaline in the form of an energy drink of music.  Get the idea?

Check out the track Birdy.

How Do I Order Music (Or Other Things)?

Val’s is now open again (safely)! Bring a face mask and we will sanitize your hands on the way in.  Social distancing, of course.  Val’s halla has worked hard over this quarantine period to launch its Online Store which has thousands of titles for you to choose from.  We will continue to add inventory everyday, but just let us know what you are looking for!  We are happy to look through our off-line inventory of over 50,000 titles to see what we have for you.  Also, we place orders with our distributor every Monday which means we see them in our store by Tuesday (most of the time).  We sell records (as well as turntables), CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, DVDs and more.  To get started, you can Click Here to access the Online Store, or fill out the form below to let us know what you are looking for.

What About Delivery?

Val’s is offering Curbside Pickup and No-Contact Delivery Service to customers who live within a 5-mile radius of the Oak Park Arts District. Orders can also be shipped to customers outside that radius for a flat fee of $5.  Order as much as you want – still $5 shipping! Stay safe and be well!

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