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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 contributor is the amazing Teddy Rankin-Parker.  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.  Looking for a prior week of Vinyl Views?  If so, CLICK HERE!

Teddy Rankin-Parker is a cellist from Oak Park. He grew up a devoted Val’s Halla enthusiast and attributes his well-rounded musical upbringing in large part to the guidance and encouragement he received from Val. Since embarking on a professional career in music, Teddy has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia, wearing the hats of composer and performance artist, and appearing in a variety of contexts including chamber orchestras, free improvised settings, and electro-acoustic music. He has performed, toured, and recorded with artists including Primus, Iron & Wine, Glen Hansard, Father John Misty, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble N_JP, Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble. He is currently working on a new solo commission by Jim O’Rourke titled “Book of Rounds,” and hopes to share the recording sometime next year.  Check out Teddy’s website  at


Artist: Ahmad Jamal
Album: At the Pershing: But Not For Me

I think this record is incredible. I don’t know much about traditional jazz music, though I want to learn more. This was recorded live at the Pershing Hotel in Chicago, in the late 50s, and on my birthday to boot! There is a feeling to Ahmad Jamal’s piano playing that sucks me in and grabs me and just doesn’t want to let go and I find myself starting the record over and over and over and over. My wife and I had our first baby about ten months ago, around the time that I first heard the track “Poinciana” (which I’ve come to learn was the hit single from the record) – and something about the long-form vamping and roving melodic minimalism of that song in particular evokes the kind of enchanted lullaby quality that I have come to rely on in these first bewildering months as a new parent (amidst a chaotic global crises no less!). We have played the record so many times now that my baby boy literally lights up when he hears it.

Check out the track Poinciana.


Artist: Jeff Parker
Album: Suite for Max Brown

Speaking of deeply soulful minimalist lullabies, this record has them in spades. Which isn’t to say it’s a mellow record – it’s definitely not – it’s filled with riotous energy and a genuine sense of urgency. But it somehow never at any point seems to alienate me. Instead I find myself getting deeper and deeper with it, burrowing into what feels like boundless colors and textures, and listening to it I find myself in a very soothed and open-hearted space – healing music for sure! Also, fun fact: I first got into Jeff Parker through the band Tortoise, and distinctly remember buying the record “TNT” from Val like 20 years ago and feeling so cool and excited about it. 

Check out the track Build A Nest.


Artist: Jon Hassell/Brian Eno
Album: Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics

Jon Hassell has been a hero of mine for several years, though I hadn’t heard this particular record until fairly recently. I came to learn that Jon has been quite sick in recent times, which inspired me to revisit his music, and this album has quickly become one of my absolute favorites. His distinctive, processed trumpet sound pulses throughout the five tracks, surrounded by such a seductively calming and earthen breath — in recent weeks this record has come to function as a sort of sonic swaddle for my baby boy – and it has really been a welcome oasis to help me through such a tumultuous time. 

Jon Hassell Fund:

Check out the track Chemistry.

Artist: The Commodores
Album: Hot On The Tracks

There are too many amazing Dads out there for one day to truly celebrate, so we’re going off book to give back a little bit more of that love.

My stepfather has been there my whole life. He helped bring me up as well as my brother and maintained an unprecedented friendship with the paternal side of my family. That means the world to me. We’ve never really shared music..However! Recently Mom was playing this song in the car and Mike knew every note of it and serenaded her the whole thing! How they didn’t die in a crash is a mystery for another day. Although Mom needed chiropractic treatment the next day. PRO-TIP to absolutely everyone, having this in your karaoke toolbox shows SO MUCH VALUE!

Check out the track Just To Be Close To You.


Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Album: Pieces Of A Man

While I only met him once or twice, a friend’s Dad had an incredible influence on my taste in music going forward. Setting: High school party where we may or may not have been engaged in delinquent activities. While my friends were carrying on around us we were bonding over music. I was at the height of my Zappa fandom then and it seemed like every time I mentioned that to someone they had to recommend an artist to often disastrous results. In this case however, he took me to school! These are the two selections he turned me on to that night that stick out in my memory. We probably dropped the needle on this song 3 times in a row as I yelled at my friends “Hey, can you guys keep it down, there is important shit happening here!” As relevant and influential today as it was when it was recorded, the raw power of this anthem couldn’t even be drowned out by the din of a group of inebriated teenagers. Granted we know all too well now that the revolution will indeed be televised.

Check out the track The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.


Artist: Tom Waits
Album: Nighthawks At The Diner

The second album he turned me onto remains among my favorites to this day. Recorded live, this double album showcases the more traditionally folk side of Tom Waits. The humor, story-telling and songwriting are all top-notch. While I’ve yet to hear a Tom Waits record I don’t dig, this one is still my go to.

Check out the track Better Off Without A Wife.

Artist: Cap’n Jazz
Album: Analphabetapolothology

These guys are an unsung influence on the whole “emo” music scene. But don’t let the phrase “emo” scare you away. The energy and frenzied distress of their music, alongside their twinkly yet intense instrumentals throw you around the room. The almost unintelligible, abstract lyrics are sung in a way that seems to give these words more meaning. This album is a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Check out their cover of Take On Me.


Artist: The Sonics
Album: Introducing The Sonics

The Sonics were an early garage rock group from Washington. Their music centers around simple chord progressions played fast and aggressively, which would influence the punk rock movement that followed them. This album is a compilation of some of their more iconic performances and songs and is a great choice for getting into garage rock.

Check out the title track The Witch.


Artist: Dr. John
Album: Gris Gris

The debut album from Dr. John is a stand out of his discography. The album mixes New Orleans R&B with psychedelic rock to create a creepy voodoo atmosphere. I also wanted to give a quick shout out to Bumpa (grandpa) who is a huge Dr. John fan. I would highly recommend this album.

Check out the track Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya.


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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