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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 ANTLER CHANDELIER who will be performing here February 18th!

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After slogging through years of paying dues in the smallest clubs of 1990s Queens and the north-est of north shore eateries (and the occasional command performances for dignitaries and American heroes (meaning, in both cases, Chuck Norris)), one fateful day in 2019 a group came together in a studio space with a goal of playing music too loud to play in one’s house. At first, it was just meeting up to jam, but the bright lights of the stage beckoned and they quickly banded together to form, well, a band.

Noticing a hole in the local cover band market that could only be filled by a band named after a rustic-look interior-design element, Antler Chandelier began booking gigs for crowds who wanted some totally recognizable songs and sweet, sweet merch, and didn’t know anyone else in a band. Fronting the group with their dynamic vocals, wit, and charm are lead singers Marc Harrison and Allison Allen, while Mark Chong (guitar), Scott Palmer (guitars), and Will McGrath (keys (hopefully a keytar too someday)) provide the melodies and aural acrobatics. Backline thump and groove is delivered by Matt Cox (bass), and Pete Tevonian (drums). “We play everything! Except Bob Seger,” proclaims Pete (also denying that he was ever in a band called Pete and the Cream). Antler Chandelier might pull you in with classics from Janis Joplin or Queen, and then take you on a hard left turn with Lizzo, P!nk, The Killers or Dua Lipa. Weezer one minute, Lady Gaga the next! 80’s theme sets, Holiday sets, acoustic dinner music. Prince, Muse, War Pigs! As one audience member commented, “Seriously. WTF? That’s a lot of songs.”

Antler Chandelier will be showcasing at Val’s on Friday, February 18th at 8pm and if you can’t make that, be sure to check out their website for upcoming shows in the area.

Artist: David & David
Album: Boomtown

“Ms. Christina drives a nine four four…” I was too young and sheltered at the time to understand the small town despair written into the lyrics of Welcome to the Boomtown, the biggest hit off David & David’s one and only album, but I knew the song was awesome.  In high school, Welcome to the Boomtown was their only song I knew, the only song that I remembered from the radio, and while the song was fantastic, David & David were filed into my mental One Hit Wonder file.  Actually, they had three songs that made the charts, I just didn’t know it at the time.  Years later, when I had money to go back and rebuild the song library of my youth, I picked up the CD and had my mind blown.

First, listening more closely to the title track, I was finally able to break down why I love it:  The vocals are deep, manly, and thoughtful (especially for the 80’s).  There’s a hint of country twang, but nothing obvious.  There’s real musicianship in the playing; the song opens with a 30-second, Gilmour-esque guitar solo, before dropping into those signature lyrics. Yes, it’s replete with the classic 80’s sounds of super-filtered drums, random clangs and pings, atmospheric pauses, and plunky keyboard parts, but that just places the song in its time. It slides from those slightly floating, story-telling verses, into the pocket of the 2-and-4 groove of the chorus, when everyone in the car bursts into full voice to sing along.  Such a hook!

David & David were David Baerwald and David Ricketts, both Los Angeles studio musicians who paired up in 1986 to drop “Boomtown”.  Welcome to the Boomtown peaked at #8 on the Rock charts, while Swallowed by the Cracks and Ain’t So Easy reached #14 and #17, respectively.  While the Davids disbanded after the album dropped, both worked for years with other musicians, most notably both collaborating with Sheryl Crow on Tuesday Night Music Club.

There’s no good reason why  Boomtown is the only song of theirs anyone remembers.  There are no weak performers here. The production on the entire album is excellent, the melodies distinct and memorable.  Some tracks have the sparseness of early John Cougar, others more of that 80’s atmosphere, but they consistently deliver strong, head boppin’ grooves and a smooth pop, Miami Vice-era swagger.  Tracks like Swimming in the Ocean, A Rock for the Forgotten, and Ain’t So Easy come with a surprisingly healthy heap of funk, for good measure.  And sing-me lyrics and dynamic vocals thread throughout the album.

Maybe the best summary is an anecdote:  I was working in a quiet office in 1996, many of us in our cubes wearing headphones as we typed away.  A friend of mine came over and asked if I had any CDs that he could listen to — he was bored of the music he had.  I handed him Boomtown.  He shrugged and walked off.  45 minutes later, he comes striding back over excitedly.  “This album is fantastic!”  He bought his own copy that day during his lunch hour.

Reviewed by Pete Tevonian (Drums)

Check out the song Welcome To The Boomtown

Artist: Material Issue
Album: International Pop Overthrow

I didn’t get the internet until 97 – amazing to remember how little you could know about a band back in those days if you also weren’t the kind of person who had extra money for music magazines. Like, I had no idea what any of the guys in Pavement’s actual names were and they were my favorite band. Nowadays you have all the knowledge in the world in your pocket, but then you had to find out about a new band from just hearing people talk (or maybe WXRT on a very good day). I remember I was at a Poster Children show sometime around 1994 and this older girl said something about them sounding like Material Issue. She was very cool, so despite the actual investment required, I got the disc. Maybe some hometown bias (or home area, I guess), but, for me, that first record of theirs was exactly what pop music always should have been. To me, that was the Chicago sound of the 90s – them, Smoking Popes, Liz Phair, Poster Children. The album is just hook after hook – some of the soft verse/loud chorus stuff that was required in those days – but just melody upon melody. Like a direct line from Big Star, to Cheap Trick to Material Issue. Such a beautiful voice and intelligent lyrics. Jim Ellison (singer/guitarist) died way too soon, but what a voice, what a genius at writing a phrase, a melody, a riff. If you’ve never heard it, do yourself a favor and pick it up today.

Marc Harrison – second singer/third guitarist

Check out the track Valerie Loves Me

Artist: Bad Religion
Album: Process Of Belief

Bad Religion’s Process of Belief turns twenty years old this year. Process of Belief is a sledgehammer to your gut, in a good way. The opening track, Supersonic shoves you back in your chair and doesn’t let you up until it’s over. Process of Belief is an album to which I’ve blown out speakers and vocal cords. Bad Religion can make you intensely angry, but like, a fun intensely angry. Most significant on the album is probably the anthem Sorrow, a big enough hit
(can there be a punk hit?) that it’s been covered in tribute by other great punk bands. Process of Belief was also the triumphant return of founding member
Brett Gurewitz. When he’s not writing or performing with Bad Religion, Gurewitz runs the world-class punk record label Epitaph Records. And he also runs a comic book studio, um, ok? I’ve never felt as unaccomplished or as uncool in my life as when I finished Brett Gurewitz’s Wikipedia page. Where did I go wrong?
Kyoto Now!, about the US’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, could’ve been
repurposed in 2017 when the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. Bored and Extremely Dangerous is a hard-charging rail against gun violence and the
culture that feeds it. One thing I’ve come to love about BR, is their wild menu of themes woven through their albums: social justice, 17th century poetry, environmentalism, ancient history! And of course songs with punk characters coming-of-age, trying to find themselves. A familiar theme, yes, but no one tells that story better than Bad Religion. Someday I hope to convince my beloved
Antler Chandelier to cover Sorrow, or some other BR gem, but I doubt it’s in the cards. We’re finally flirting with playing some Clash and Social Distortion, which is a great start, I’ll take it.
Bad Religion makes you feel like no matter how small and disconnected we are, each of us has the smarts and the strength to stand up against intolerance and injustice. Happy 20th anniversary to this fantastic album, and thanks to Val’s for
the guest spot!
Scott Palmer (guitar)

Check out the track Sorrow

Artist: Portishead
Album: Portishead

This year marks Val’s halla’s 50th Anniversary and in the spirit of celebration this week I’m focusing on that singular joy derived from this line of work.  Laying claim to a store copy!

While I’d already worked at a different music store in Michigan prior to Val’s, and collected many a disc from that experience, this was the first I picked up here.  I don’t recall who it was anymore but someone had previously laid claim to it and left it behind. Their loss was my gain as I only had a CDR at that time.  While Dummy gets most of the attention I maintain this is their best album and most haunting.

Check out the track: All Mine


Artist: Cranberries
Album: Stars The Videos

I know I know “Cranberries again Shayne?  And a DVD at that?” But this collection showing up marked my shift from long-time casual fan to the die-hard I am today.  I hadn’t paid much attention to their later output before this and was delighted to find it remained consistently great!  Since then my Cranberries fandom has become a well-known element of my identity.

Check out the track: Analyse

Artist: Various
Album: Night Train To Nashville

I’m surprised to discover I haven’t already written about this one but just as well because it is perfect for this theme!  This fantastic compilation of soul and R&B that was largely overshadowed by the country and rock & roll coming out of the area at the time was game-changing for me.  Much like the goth comp I never stop raving about I subsequently sought out the full albums of just about every individual artist across the two discs.  While a particular stand-out for me was The Prisonaires, I have written about them in depth and there is so much to be mined here.  From familiar tunes to obscurities to local advertisements it’s all fantastic.  

Check out the track: Bigger And Better

Artist: 100 Gecs
Album: 1000 Gecs

Every generation has one or more signature “alternative” sounds associated with the generation. And this made me wonder, what will be the signature sound of our modern alternative scene. And I think I have come up with an answer: Hyperpop. For those not familiar with this term, Hyperpop describes a lot of the pop leaning artists with avant-garde noisy elements, that take influence from electronic music and hip-hop as well as having an “extremely online” feel to it. It started growing from the PC Music scene of the mid to late 2010s, and it has only developed into a cohesive sound/movement in the past 3 to 5 years. In my opinion this is the freshest most unique sound in the underground, and not much else sounds like it. For this vinyl views, I am going to cover 3 albums that represent this current movement, and are very exciting to me.

This is maybe the signature album of the hyperpop sound, and it has influenced every hyperpop release that has come out since. It has a reputation for being quite off putting at first listen, and most people’s first reaction is one of hatred. But soon, those songs will worm there way into your brain and get stuck in your head. The lyrics are super memorable, with so many quotable lines, you’ll find yourself reciting them sooner rather than later. After these songs embed into your brain it’s not long after that you begin to enjoy them, and then the genius of this record reveals itself. That genius is how they don’t care if it’s accessible or not, they are just combining a ton of sounds together because it’s fun. I highly recommend giving this album a listen if you haven’t, there are few albums as ridiculously absurd as this one, and it’s truly one of a kind. Check out the song Stupid Horse which is a electronic ska song about a horse. What else would you ever want. (Also, the tree on the album cover is only a 40 minute drive away from the store)

Check out the track Stupid Horse


Artist: Ericdoa
Album: COA

I picked this album to point out how hyperpop has been fracturing off into a couple micro genres. ericdoa is part of the sound which has been called digicore, which includes a lot more trap influences to it. This album is super melodic and catchy, and songs like this get stuck in my head for like a week straight after I listen to this album. Check out the song 2008, which has a beat which sounds like a more distorted trap beat, with the brighter more artificial sounding vocals being part of what separates it from just being another trap album. It’s a short listen and is definitely worth the time.

Check out the track 2008


Artist: Alice Gas
Album: Sorry 4 Being Famous

The infectious repetitive sugar rush of this album takes elements of Happy Hardcore into it, giving it a more danceable feel. This album feels like you just had 15 billion pixie sticks. A lot of the lyrics are extremely repetitive but just in the exact right way to have them lodge into your brain and have them sticking around for a while. I would check out the song Contact, which is one of the most repetitive takes on the sound.

Check out the track Contact

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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