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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 from friend & customer Conor  Jansen as well as his gorgeous Maine Coon, Simon! Surprise Pet Vinyl Views!

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Conor Jansen is a high school English teacher who earnestly defends Smash Mouth. He likes black coffee, jazz music, almost any variation of punk music, shoegaze, and the Chicago White Sox. He’s currently doing his own version of the Daf Yomi where he started late and forgets to do it and is way behind but lies to himself that he’ll possibly catch up some day. He cannot swim.

Simón is a very lively Maine coon with a deformed ear and inverted nipples. He likes smelling Conor’s drinks, slapping things that make loud noises, licking dustballs off the ground, and standing in front of the fridge. Whether he can swim remains untested as of yet.


Artist: Sweeping Promises
Album: Hunger For A Way Out


Conor’s favorite album over the past few years is Hunger for a Way Out by Sweeping Promises, which means I’ve had to hear it more than a few times. Since he first heard of these guys, this album has been on repeat for months. He likes it because, with phenomenal vocals, thick basslines, and a superb lo-fi sound, this album takes from’70s NY punk, post-punk, new wave, ’90s indie rock, and makes something that sounds beautifully timeless and new. Me? I like it because I’m a cat, and I like things for reasons you can’t possibly understand. Conor’s track of choice is “Blue” though he would qualify that by saying every track on this album is a hit. Me? I’d go with “An Appetite,” because, like Mondal sings, “nothing inspires quite like a good meal/It’s so appealing, so appealing/So appealing, so appealing/So appealing, so appealing/So appealing.” And let me be frank: I’m a big man. And y’know what? A good meal is so appealing. That’s very true.

Check out the track An Appetite.

Artist: Spread Joy
Album: Spread Joy


As Simón says, Hunger for a Way Out is my favorite album I’ve found in years, and it quickly became the album I started recommending to every single person I interacted with (which was a small number, because, y’know, COVID). So, I made sure to follow the record label, Feel It Records (who I promise isn’t paying me for this write up but if you’re reading this and work for Feel It Records I’m not opposed to accepting payments). There’s plenty of great stuff, but the other one I need to highlight is Chicago-based Spread Joy and their self titled debut LP. As somebody who doesn’t take these name-drops lightly, they have been quite accurately described as like a marriage between Wire and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. This is pure cool, fun-punky-no-wave that doesn’t waste a second of its runtime, clocking in at under fifteen minutes. And they don’t just emulate their predecessors; as a Descloux fan I can say I’ll definitely be returning to this more than I do Press Colour. Whenever concerts happen again, catch me at the first Spread Joy show I can find. Listen to this whole album. You have time. 

Check out the track  Mystery Curtain.



Artist: Stephen Malkmus
Album: Groove Denied


In that vein of stuff that’s cool, my personal Coolness Icon is Stephen Malkmus, the indie-kid Bob Dylan both in that he’s a poetic wordsmith and that he is the definition of hip. The way people kvell over Keanu Reeves being incapable of doing wrong is about how I feel towards Malkmus. His music career has had no serious misses as far as I’m concerned, and I’d say that puts him in a league of his own when it comes to the ‘90s indie rock scene in that he avoided ever doing something like, say, naming an album Indie Cindy or whatever. Decades into his career, he’s still putting out albums that absolutely hold up next to Pavement’s discography. Sparkle Hard was possibly the best Jicks release, but I’ve been going back to his solo electronic venture Groove Denied a bit more. It’s so different in parts from anything he’s done before, and in parts you have tracks like “Come Get Me” that, with different production, would’ve felt right at home on a Pavement album. It’s possibly his weirdest record, and it works. 

.Check out the track Boss Viscerate.

Shayne is switching it up in 2021 and bringing us his custom play lists each week.  Check out here or come into the store and listen to them in our Sounderator (tricked out 1940’s refrigerator that you sit in while enjoying a tasty selection of tunes).

Shayne’s playlist this week is titled From Crayons To Perfume.

From: Shayne:

This week I’m highlighting another of my favorite collaborative playlists.  This one got it’s start as far back as middle school when Kelly and I were discussing one of the most pervasive and um, problematic common themes in pop music.  I’m confident you’ll be able to figure it out.  There are a whole lot more in the Spotify playlist and so SO many more to be added!  What did we miss?

Access the Spotify Playlist Here =>   

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap

Song: Young Girl.



Song: To Sir With Love.


Billy Idol

Song: Cradle Of Love


Neil Diamond

Song: Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon


Oingo Boingo

Song: Little Girls


Benny Mardones 

Song: Into The Night



Song: Seventeen


The Prisonaires

Song: That Chicks Too Young To Fry


Artist: Deltron 3030
Album: Deltron 3030

This is just a classic hip hop album, through and through. While being 20 years old now,  it still feels quite futuristic to this day. Deltron 3030 is the collaboration of Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien and Kid Koala. This is one of those Hip-Hop albums I would recommend to people just getting into the genre, because it does not feature the aggression that hip hop is often portrayed to have, and instead has a more playfully mischievous wit to it. Deltron 3030 plays around with themes of a dystopian future and truly feels the part. 

Check out the track Positive Contact


Artist: Machine Girl
Album: Wlfgrl

Machine Girl is an electronic duo that started up a little less than 10 years ago and they have been making this unique breed of intense, fast, and totally wild electronic music. Their sound is sort of hard to pin down to a certain sub genre of electronic music, because it is really unlike anything else. If you want an extremely fast hodgepodge of drum and bass, industrial stylings, and add in many other miscellaneous labels, check this out!

Check out the track Out by 16, Dead on the Scene


Artist: The Unicorns
Album: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone

This is an indie rock album that I feel should be talked about more.  For my money, The Unicorns are just as good as their contemporaries, whose names are carved into the walls of music history, but this album always seems to be overlooked. Its songs are catchy and have wonderful melodies, while also having the off-kilter instrumental variety that you could find on a They Might Be Giants album with the dark self-recorded feel you could find on a Microphones album. This whole album is a wonderful listen and I highly recommend it.

Check out the track Tuff Ghost

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!

What Are You Looking For?