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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 Danny Urbina-McCarthy!

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Although a new resident of Oak Park, Danny has been coming to Val’s Halla for over a decade.Stopping by on the Friday after Thanksgiving with his dad and best friend is a time honored tradition. Besides collecting records, he is a huge soccer fan and is also on the board of Oak Park’s Terrain Exhibitions.


Artist: Hi-Tek
Album: Hi-Teknology

After falling in love with Hi-Tek’s beat making from Black Star, I played this album non-stop when it came out. I associate it with train rides, having listened to it on my discman while taking the Amtrak from Milwaukee to visit family in Chicago. Specifically “Sun God” is a song to listen to and has one of my favorite Common verses.  I think the song’s steady beat mimicked the train and I always got lost in the lull of the song while looking out the window.

Check out the track Sun God

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Innervisions

I think I actually bought this on vinyl from Val’s Halla, but it is one of my favorite Stevie Wonder albums and probably exemplifies my love for his music best. On the first listen the sounds from the synthesizers and melodies lock you in, but over the years I have really grown to appreciate the lyrics of the album. So much of the imagery is about sight and you take for granted that this is coming from a person without that sense, but who can still capture and share full experiences with all others.

Check out the track  Golden Lady



Artist: Los Hermanos Castro

Album: En La Onda De… Los Hnos. Castro

A 1950/60s singing group from Mexico City, they have some great harmonies and capture a lot of the great traditional Mexican classics as well as pop hits from around the world. If you love samba, bossa nova, and that era, check them out. I love this album because it reminds me of the music my dad would play for us when we were little, exposing us to the cross-cultural and bilingual conversations that happen through music.

Check out the track Mirando a las Muchachas

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 Les Chats Connards


From: Shayne:

The kitties surprised me with an early birthday present by apparently forming a band behind my back?  Taking the producer role I have dubbed them Les Chats Connards and picked a few songs each that play to their individual strengths. I see Lulu (Perched) as a Britpop type. Hates her band-mates, loves her audience, and would rather f*** off elsewhere. Poofles (Foreground in Shadow) wants to write something “REAL.” Elder stateswoman with something to prove. Waiting to hear back from Rick Rubin. And Dib thinks he’s Axl Rose. The same way Axl Rose does.

Access the Spotify Playlist Here =>   

Alannah Miles

Song: Black Velvet

Obviously re-worked as “Gray Velvet”


Song: Hole Hearted



Song: Go Away


Macy Gray

Song: Beautiful


Skid Row

Song: Youth Gone Wild



Song: Single Girl



Song: Kiss From A Rose


Def Leppard

Song: Excitable



Song: Sleeping Single


Artist: Madness
Album: One Step Beyond

How have I not talked about this record yet? Ever since my first time listening, this has held the role as my favorite ska album. This album never fails to make me smile, and can always brighten my day. This is one of the many albums that shaped my music taste that I first got introduced to sitting in my dads car. The horns on this record are so fun and bouncy, and each of the songs just make you want to get up and dance around. Don’t deprive yourself of the happiness this record could bring to you any longer.

.Check out the track My Girl


Artist: Ecco2k
Album: E

This album is one of my favorite records of the past few years. For everyone not familiar with the name, Ecco2k is a Swedish hip hop producer and singer, associated with the Drain Gang collective. I have a hard time listening to a lot of the catalog of his peers, as it just feels too woozy and ends up leaving me bored. The output of Ecco2k on the other hand feels super fresh, mixing trap and other forms of modern pop rap with super dreamy and lush soundscapes. The songs on this album are beautiful, and everything sounds unique and new. One of the best analogies I can use to describe his music is that he is to trap and pop rap now what My Bloody Valentine was to Indie and Alternative rock in the 90s. If you want to hear some super unique sounds that are happening right now, check this out.

Check out the track CC


Artist: Pusha T
Album: Daytona

I have had this in the backlog of albums I could possibly write about for a while, but I always struggled to think of something unique to write about it. It’s a brief, to the point, set of Kanye produced bangers, and easily one of the most enjoyable hip hop albums of the past few years. I have been listening to this album a whole lot recently, and each time I listen to it, time seems to go by fast. This has come in handy a lot, as I am currently in limbo, having moved out of my old house, but am still over a week away from moving into my new one. So there has been a lot of sitting around in hotel rooms with little to do, and listening to this album has made the clock tick slightly faster. If you missed this album when it was released, it is definitely worth your time. Check out the song, If You Know, You Know, which is such a great opener for this album.

Check out the track If You Know, You Know

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?