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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 listen, this has held the role of my favorite ska album. It never fails to make me smile and can always brighten my day. The horns on this record are so fun and bouncy, and each of the songs makes you want to get up and dance around. The album overall acts as a lively and vibrant collection of songs that blend ska, pop, and punk influences, with a distinct visual style and offbeat sense of humor. 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

Ecco2K is a Swedish rapper, singer, and songwriter who has been providing listeners with some of the most eclectic and unique music under the Cloud Rap and Alternative R&B umbrellas and has gained recognition for his unique and eclectic style. Ecco2k is associated with the Drain Gang collective, working alongside artists such as Bladee and Thaiboy Digital.

The music found on this record has a strong emphasis on ethereal and atmospheric soundscapes, blending elements of rap, pop, and electronic music. There are lots of moments on this record that feel like some strange alien blend of 2000s pop R&B with both experimental electronic music, as well as dream pop textures.

The songs on this album are beautiful, and everything sounds unique and new. Ecco2k’s lyrics on this record explore a wide range of themes, frequently delving into introspective moments that touch on topics such as love, existentialism, and self-reflection. All of this is delivered with his melodically floaty vocal style, adding to the atmospheric and emotive quality found in the production of the record.

I am quite excited to see where Ecco2k could go in the future, as I feel he has a bright future ahead of him.

Check out the track CC


Artist: Pusha T
Album: Daytona

2018 was a phenomenal year for Kanye West’s GOOD Music label. During the month of May, the label would drop 3 of the best-received albums in the label’s history back to back to back. The album in this run that stands out to me the most is Pusha T’s Daytona.

This record is a brief, point, set of Kanye-produced bangers. Pusha T, a former member of the group Clipse, is known for his visceral rapping style, with most of his vocals being aggressively snarled in an intimidating manner. Pusha T has tons of bars on this record delving into themes of drug dealing, street life, and the consequences that come from these. The record also acts as an instigating moment in one of the greatest dramas in hip hop, being the beef between Drake and Kanye/Pusha T.

Overall, Pusha T’s sharp wordplay, intricate storytelling, and captivating delivery all make this album an enjoyable experience that makes time fly by. If you missed this album when it was released, it is worth your time. Check out the song, If You Know, You Know, which is one of the great openers in hip hop from the past 5 years.

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?