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Vinyl Views is our new weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team (Shayne and Jaxon), and reveal picks from guest contributors. This week’s contributors are the members of Monday Night Vinyl.  Scroll down to read this week’s album picks  or start shopping!  Sign up now to be a part of our Vinyl Views family and be the first to hear about new releases, store events, and exclusive promotions.

Monday Night Vinyl is a group of friends who get together every Monday to listen to an album and drink whiskey. Each week someone selects an album to share with the group, and in between side A and B gives a quick spiel about what the album means to them. Sometimes it is a record most people are familiar with, sometimes it is something unique, and sometimes it is something they pulled off their parents’ shelf. The group first gathered in Villa Park in July 2015 and has continued to get together nearly every week since. Some weeks the group is as few as 3 or 4 people but other weeks it exceeds 10. The location has changed (now held in Oak Park), people have come and gone, but the main purpose has remained the same: Getting together with friends and enjoying music. 


Artist: The Head and The Heart
Album: Let’s Be Still

This album holds special meaning to the group because it is the album that started Monday Night Vinyl and is one of the few albums that has been listened to multiple weeks. One of the members’ brother got a signed copy from a charity event in Seattle and passed it along. This is Head and the Heart’s second album, and compared to the first it is louder and gives more of a glimpse into what their live shows look like. Their harmonies are some of the best you’ll hear, and certain tracks like “Josh McBride” or “10,000 Weight in Gold” are must listens. So is “These Days Are Numbered”, one of the few tracks Charity sings lead on. The lyrics convey more emotion and do a better job storytelling than their previous album. Among the favorite lines is “We all complain if it rains or it shines, but we’re never mad at the moon.”u

Check out the track Shake.


Artist: Avett Brothers
Album: Emotionalism

Some MNV members consider the Avett Brothers to be their all-time favorite band. For those MNV members who have joined the group and were less familiar with the band, they have been “forced” to listen to them. The album starts out with a fun upbeat song, but over the course of the next 13 songs you get a mix of speeds, sounds, and emotions. The thoughtful and often relatable lyrics combined with brotherly harmonies make this an amazing album. Sometimes the vocals carry the tune, but other times you focus on the loud strums of the banjo or the melodic cello sound. This is near the top of our list of albums to listen to, see in concert, and play along with on our instruments. 

Check out the track Die Die Die.


Artist: Vampire Weekend
Album: Father of the Bride

After 6 years without a new album, Vampire weekend released Grammy winning Father of the Bride. Unlike previous Vampire Weekend albums, the lyrical style is direct and straightforward. The album includes 3 male-female duets featuring Danielle Haim, including the opening folky tune “Hold You Now”. These duets don’t sound as musically sophisticated as their previous work, but you can still hear some awesome guitar riffs on tracks such as “This Life”, “Sunflower”, and “Unbearably White”. Along with fun lyrics and guitar playing, listen for some bass solos (“Sympathy”), keyboard interjections (“Harmony Hall”), and even some saxophone (“Stranger”). Similar to The Avett Brothers, this is also a favorite to play through during a jam session. 

Check out the track This Life.


Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
Album: Blizzard of Ozz

For this week’s Vinyl Views I’ve decided to share some musical memories I’ve shared with my Dad. Our tastes don’t always line up, but much of who I am today I can trace back to specific moments involving this soundtrack. My very first concert experience was my Dad taking me to see Ozzy. Shortly before “Ozzfest” became a thing, this was basically a prototype show for that concept featuring Danzig, Sepultura etc. Including an opening act that apparently won a radio contest for the spot despite being completely in the wrong venue (it’s a bad sign when the audience throws your drumsticks back at you.) The whole thing was formative and amazing, highlighted by a video of Ozzy lampooning Alanis Morissette. This song is his favorite, and any time it played he would drop whatever he was doing (including sleep) to wail along. Every time I hear it I can picture him sliding in out of nowhere like Tom Cruise in Risky Business to belt out “MISTER CROWLEY!”

Check out the track Mister Crowley.


Artist: Elton John
Album: Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

I could choose any number of Elton John albums for this slot as his music is the backdrop of many of my earliest memories with my Dad (lying on our backs and bicycle-kicking the air to Crocodile Rock for example.) This one would consistently break us both down though, sentimental dopes that we are, so it seemed the natural choice.

Check out the track Someone Saved My Life Tonight.


Artist: Kiss
Album: Alive III

I’ve officially lost track of how many times he’s had to replace this album. I sent him a new copy as recently as last year and he already needs another. Needless to say it was/is one of the most played albums in that house. “Every time we do this one, the place lights up just like a damn Christmas tree!” Truth.

Check out the track Forever

Artist: Björk
Album: Homogenic

This album is one my dad introduced to me early on when I was starting to get into alternative music. I have a vivid memory of my dad playing this album in the car as we were headed to see a movie. It sounded unlike anything I had heard before. There were hard, pulsating beats with Björk’s signature vocalisation punctuated by howls and shrieks. It is somehow relaxing and revolutionary all at the same time.  Björk’s solo work strays heavily into the electronic arena which is quite a departure from her work in the post-punk band KUKL or alt-rock favorite, The Sugarcubes.  I have now fallen in love with Björk’s music as my father had so many years before.

Check out the track Hunter.


Artist: The Cure
Album: Disintegration

Disintegration is on the Mount Rushmore of albums for my dad and me. I had heard him raving about this record for ages, so when I first sat down to listen a couple of years ago, I had extremely high expectations. This moody, atmospheric gem was easily able to exceed the hype. The first 20 seconds of the opening “Plainsong” are an eerie sound of chimes twinkling in the wind. Then, the bass, synth and drums kick in creating an atmosphere of dark imagery. A good two and half minutes pass before Robert Smith finally mopes out this gloomy tale of aging and death. While there is a little respite in the middle of this album with the hit, “Love Song”, most of this record is the Cure’s signature doom and gloom. When I decided that I was going to start a vinyl record collection, I knew this would be my first purchase.

Check out the title track Disintegration.


Artist: Love & Rockets
Album: Express

This is the album my dad says got him into alternative music. He would have been about the age I am now when this album was released (1986). Love and Rockets rose from the (Daniel) ashes of Bauhaus when Peter Murphy began his solo career. The other three members – Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins created a new, poppier sound than the ultra-goth of Bauhaus. You can hear the wide influences of the band from Pink Floyd to Kraftwerk and it really works.  Their record label, Bigtime, ruled the 80’s alternative scene with bands like The Dream Syndicate, Love Tractor, The Lucy Show, Redd Kross, Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and Dumptruck, but Love & Rockets were their poster children. Hey, if this is what started my father’s musical journey, how could I leave it off of my Father’s Day edition of Vinyl Views, right?

Check out the track Kundalini Express.


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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