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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 Dylan Chmura!

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My name is Dylan Chmura, I’m sixteen, live in Holland, Michigan, and my strange addiction is Spotify. I am the proud creator of forty different playlists, and my favorite part of the year is viewing my Spotify Wrapped. My proudest achievement is being in the top .05% of listeners for my favorite band, Paramore. I love bands from Nashville, music for cars, and any song that talks about moving furniture to make more room to dance

My love for music has always been around. At any given time, I will have a song stuck in my head. My parents will have to beg me to stop humming and snapping due to the fact that I am doing it 24/7. While I don’t play any instruments, I love to talk about music, all the way from lyrics and writing, to instrumentals and production. 

Collecting records is a relatively new experience for me. A friend of mine had a turntable and a bunch of old records. Once I listened to music on vinyl, I was hooked. In less than a year, I have bought over thirty records. My bank account suffers, but my ears thrive. 

Artist: Panic! At The Disco
Album: A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out

Panic! At the Disco holds a very special place in my heart. I had a friend who really loved their work, so I decided to check it out. The first song I heard from them was the title track “Death of a Bachelor,” off of their fifth album. The song has a Sinatra-esque brass and saxophone part, with a modern day bass that you feel more than you hear. It was a marriage between two things that you wouldn’t think to put together, and the cherry on top were the beautiful vocals from Urie.

After I heard the song, I did a deep dive into the band. “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” is their debut album, and sets up a solid base for what Panic! at the Disco comes to be. “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” is a 2000’s punk classic.

Urie is one of the best male vocalists today, and an impeccable writer. The lyrics of this album are really what shine, but you also have to appreciate the incredible percussion. Full of metaphors and storytelling, the fast paced words can be hard to fallow at times, but you feel immersed in the world of Panic! At the Disco..

.Check out the song The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage

Artist: Hayley Williams
Album: FLOWER for VASES/ descansos

While this album is extremely sonically different than “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” it’s roots still lie in punk music. Hayley Williams is the front woman for the band Paramore. The band also sprouted in the early 2000’s and has evolved over the years. This album is the second of two of Williams solo albums. The first was “Petals for Armor,” which was planned, and addresses the struggles of her breakup and depression. The second solo album was impromptu and created during the COVID lockdown, and serves almost as a cousin album.  “Flowers for Vases,” served as a comfort album for me while we were in lockdown. The pandemic isolated everyone and you can feel it in this album. Different from anything Paramore has done, this album lets Williams shine. With the stripped back acoustic sounds, and its hard hitting lyrics, you feel every single part of every song. Most songs are just Williams and a guitar. She can belt out with her powerful vocals, and she knows that, which makes it even more impactful that she gives us an intimate sound to the music. The best description of this album is that it is just pure songwriting at it’s finest.

.Check out the track Good Grief

Artist: COIN
Album: Rainbow Mixtape

This album was also created during quarantine. Originally released as three different EPs, this album has twelve tracks that are organized by color. Red Orange is the first set of songs. The first track, “Hypnotica,” sets the tone for the first four songs. They all provide a creative, dreamy tone. The tone is achieved by an interesting set of real instruments matched with a more modern-pop production style. All the songs in Red Orange will sneak into your head and stay there for a couple of days.

Green Blue is the next set of songs, and provide a different tone than the first four. A brighter, lovelier feeling is carried throughout the four songs. This section of the album makes you want to run away and live in the woods and look at the stars. 

Indigo Violet concludes the album a rock-pop star feel. The first track in this part of the album, “Sort It Out,” makes you want to drive around with your windows down and belt out notes that you know you can not hit. 

Overall, the album has three different parts that stand very well on their own, but when they are brought together, they take you on a journey of hope, confusion, and an appreciation for all of life’s experiences. There are songs for dancing, crying, and falling in love. No matter the situation, Rainbow Mixtape will have a song for you.

Check out the track Sagittarius Superstar (feat. Faye Webster)

Artist: Leonard Cohen
Album: Songs of Leonard Cohen

Sadly we’re officially out of Spoopy season (come back!) and I struggle to come up with themes for these week to week.  Leave it to Jaxon to accidentally inspire me!

While discussing folk music with a certain, difficult to pin-down dark, melancholy quality, naturally Leonard Cohen leads the pack.

Val and I never agreed on Leonard Cohen (we never agreed on Jackyl either for that matter, but this one always struck me as weird.) While she was a fan of his songwriting she never cared for his delivery.  I on the other hand struggle with anyone else’s versions.

Check out the track: So Long, Marianne


Artist: Devendra Banhart
Album: Rejoicing In The Hands

During that conversation with Jaxon I was reminded of this gem from 2004 (a year that’s beginning to take on the same mythic quality as 1972 around here.) Both years seem to have produced an abnormal glut of exceptional music, though more likely I’ve just trained my brain to notice that trend.

This particular hippy-dippy, “freak-folk” album really struck a chord with me (considering I was mostly listening to synth pop and darkwave at the time that is no small feat.)  I hadn’t revisited it in a long while but I think this is going back into regular rotation!

Check out the track: Fall

Artist: Fred Holstein
Album: Live At The Earl Of Old Town

Val and I fully agreed on this one though!  While I enjoy and appreciate Fred’s albums this particular live recording has that certain something about it.  Dark and intimate, dripping in pathos, absolutely beautiful.  It also includes more than one Leonard Cohen cover that I happen to think are exceptional.

Imagine being in this room, struggling to see over Val’s hair (odds are pretty good she was there) with the audience collectively holding their breath as to not disturb the mood, when the phone rings (clearly audible in my song choice) BAD FORM!

Check out the track: Urge For Going

Artist: Pi’erre Bourne
Album: The Life Of Pi’erre 4

When learning about people, a common question people ask is their favorite color. So today I am talking about albums that feature my favorite shade of purple. (Prince notwithstanding)

I am picky when it comes to trap, typically prefering a more melodic sound with hazier, almost psychedelic production styles. This record has all of these elements in spades. The cavernous, somewhat minimal beats layered with melodic, autotune-drenched vocals help produce a distinct sound, with immediately recognizable elements such as his driven synth leads.

Pi’erre has had a lot of influence upon the newest wave of trap artists, with his hypnotic beats being used by a lot of popular artists, with one of the biggest examples being Playboi Carti’s hit song Magnolia. This album sees him taking on the role of being the center of attention with him stepping away from just being a producer. All of these performances are given in a half-sung half-rapped sound which has been dominating hip-hop for a while now. Something about this simple purple square used with just the parental advisory logo decorating the bottom right corner fields is very reflective of the album as a whole, as overall the album leans toward a more minimal yet psychedelic sound.

I overall find this record to be Pi’erres’ best work so far and is a staple in my frequent rotation of trap albums.

Check out the track Routine


Artist: Sophie
Album: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides

In just the small handful of years since its release, this album has had an impact on the experimental side of pop that has been dominating both the underground scene and the airwaves. I would honestly be willing to put money on this album gaining the reputation of being one of the greatest releases in the entire history of experimental pop music, and I believe we will continue to see her influence more and more on upcoming artists.

SOPHIE’s first, and sadly final studio work is a wonderfully lush and expressive blend of Art Pop, Bubblegum Bass, and Deconstructed Club. Throughout this album’s 40-minute run, we experience a perfect balance of both beauty and noise. This record reflects on themes of queer identity and feels so authentic yet uplifting. Tragically, SOPHIE’s life was cut short in January 2021 due to her falling to her death while gazing at the moon. Her death is an extreme tragedy, and we have lost one of the generation’s most visionary talents. SOPHIE’s impact and legacy will continue to be seen through the lasting impression she has made on the industry.

Check out the track Is It Cold In The Water?


Artist: Digable Planets
Album: Blowout Comb

Digable Planets was one of the most important artists paving the way for the jazz-rap subgenre, acting as an alternative to the more aggressive and hardcore styles prevalent in hip-hop at the time of this record’s release. Blowout Comb, the band’s second and final album was released in 1994, and was an insanely smooth and fresh take on hip hop and jazz.  The album delve deeply into the discussion of both social and political themes. It is filled with lyrical themes that address issues found in urban life, as well as celebrating racial identity.

Blowout Comb also features one of the most densely layered,  intricate production styles in the history of the genre, with the instrumentals being extremely lush, incorporating samples from jazz, soul, and funk records. All of these aspects are woven together to create a dense sonic landscape.

Though upon the album’s release, it did not achieve the same commercial success as its debut album, it over the years has gained a reputation for being one of the seminal works in conscious hip-hop. The dynamic between the three rappers is almost unparalleled, and there is just a natural coolness to the way they approach their flow and presence on the mic.

Check out the track Black Ego

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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