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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

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Armando Carlo is a singer-songwriter and keyboardist from Oak Park. A School of Rock student for 7 years, Armando was a member of the Show Team and was a three-time All Star. Now, he is a piano and vocal instructor at both School of Rock Oak Park and Glenbrook and the frontman for Summer Drive. Earlier this year, they released their first EP, which can be found on all streaming platforms. They have been very busy with livestreams, shows, and recording, so make sure to follow their Instagram page @evirdremmus.


Artist: Frank Zappa
Album: Hot Rats

I blame this album for being why I have fallen into the pit of Zappa fandom. This predominantly instrumental album mixes jam and jazz in a way that many in 1969 hadn’t even gotten close to. Songs like “The Gumbo Variations” are filled with so much energy that it feels as if I’m listening to an extended jam from a Phish bootleg. Tracks like “Little Umbrellas” or “Peaches En Regalia” showcase Zappa’s skills as a composer in his intense but soaring keyboard and woodwind arrangements. And you can’t forget about the guitar! “Willie the Pimp” has got to have one of the greatest guitar solos ever. Zappa’s frantic picking has you on the edge of your seat for about 8 minutes while the band perfectly follows him every step of the way until it all comes crashing down with the infectious opening lick. This album is a great way to see Zappa as not just a comedy rock star but a composer virtuoso.

Check out the track Willie The Pimp

Artist: Spillage Village, JID & Earthgang

Album: Spilligion

This album from Atlanta based hip hop group Spillage Village came out in September of last year and it really stood out to me as a unique hip hop record. The opening track is a skit that that has 3 men playing characters that meet outside a church, and talk about questioning their pastor and God. This sets the tone for a lighthearted yet sincere dive into religion and how it interplays with this ever-changing world we live in. “Mecca” has an infectious hook that feels like an international call to action to “Spread the love all ‘round the world”, a great example of the positive energy that comes from this album’s lyrics. Front to back, Spilligion feels like a gospel for a religion worshipping love and good vibes. Musically, this album is a mixing pot of different styles such as funk, R&B, gospel, and neo soul. Every song on this album has a tasty bass line and/or a groovy drum beat for you to sink your teeth into. One of my favorite tracks on here, “Judas”, has an incredibly dizzying yet funky drum beat mixed with a very creative use of Ray Charles’ famous hook from “Hit the Road Jack” that will make it clear that this album has something very special.

Check out the track  Judas



Artist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Album: Skeleton Tree

In 2014, the Bad Seeds went back into the studio to record their 16th album. But about a year into recording, Nick Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur tragically passed away. What resulted was Skeleton Tree. And wow what a record this is! The emotional vulnerability of the lyrics mixed with the unique use of electronic-based ambient backdrops make it stand out to me as one of a kind. This album was actually the first time I had listened to the Bad Seeds and I was surprised to find out that the rest of Cave’s catalog has a much different tone than the songs found on this album. But, as I’ve dove into the rest of the Bad Seed discography, this album has managed to solidify itself as a favorite of mine due to its experimentation and its lyrical illustration of love, loss, and grief.

.Check out the track Distant Sky

Shayne is switching it up in 2021 and bringing us his custom playlists 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 Incel! The Musical


From: Shayne:

Simply put, I went down a shuffle-hole of some of my favorite musicals and an “ahem” problematic theme arose!  I couldn’t resist compiling it for better or for worse.  I’ll let you be the judge!

Access the Spotify Playlist Here =>   

Into The Woods Soundtrack

Song: Agony.


My Fair Lady Soundtrack

Song: I’m An Ordinary Man.


Music Man Soundtrack

Song: The Sadder But Wiser Girl For Me


Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Song: Freeze Ray


Pirates Of Penzance

Song: Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Breast


Sweeney Todd OCR

Song: Ladies In Their Sensitivities


Buffy – Once More With Feeling

Song: Rest In Peace


Jacques Brel Is Alive & Well & Living In Paris OCR

Song: Bachelor’s Dance


Artist: Count Bass D
Album: Dwight Spitz

When I first discovered this album my first reaction was one of shock. How could an album be this good, have big names on it, but still not be popular. Count Bass D is a great alternative hip hop producer, rapper, and multi instrumentalist. This album includes multiple features, but most notably, one from MF DOOM. If you are a fan of the stuff on the Stones Throw label, you have to check this out, as it would fit right at home alongside their catalogue.

.Check out the track Jussa Player


Artist: Prince
Album: Emancipation

My mom’s birthday was a few days ago, so I decided to talk about Prince, who is her favorite artist, again. But this left me with a hard question. What Prince album do I talk about? And thinking about that led me to an even scarier question. What is my favorite Prince album? After thinking about it for a while, I believe I have come to the conclusion that Emancipation is my favorite Prince album. “Why?” you may ask? Even though it is not my most listened to Prince album (That prize probably goes to Purple Rain), it is the one I feel the urge to listen to the most often. The one drawback of this album, which doubles as an impressive feat of this album, is its length. This absolute monster of an album is exactly 3 hours long. If you don’t have time to listen to the full album, at least check out the song Slave.

Check out the track Slave


Artist: The Get Up Kids
Album: Four Minute Mile

I feel like this album often gets overlooked in favor of Something To Write Home About. I love Something To Write Home About as much as the next person, but I feel like this one also deserves some of the spotlight. This album is a lot more raw and unpolished. The guitars on this album feel so precise, yet so reckless and violent. You will get swooped up into the emotional tornado it creates.

Check out the track Stay Gold Ponyboy

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?