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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 our good friends and founders of Kinslahger Brewing Company – Keith, Steve, and Neal. 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!

Kinslahger Brewing Company, launched by OPRF residents Steve, Neal and Keith, makes lagered beer at 6806 Roosevelt Road in Oak Park. Since opening in March 2016, Kinslahger has built a reputation for producing fresh examples of classic lager styles while also pushing the boundaries of what consumers expect from a lagered beer. Though their tasting room is currently closed due to pandemic concerns, they are offering online ordering with curbside pickup or local delivery. Check out the current selection at

Kinslahger – launched by three friends, built by many more in Oak Park.

A tasty lagered beer, a new record for the turntable.  Hey, we can make this social distancing thing manageable!

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: Slippery When Wet

First Up: Neal

When I told my wife that Val’s halla had asked us (the Kinslahger guys) to participate in this, she looked up without hesitation and said, “Please don’t tell me that you are going to pick Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet!” Little did she know I was already staring at the track listing on my iphone. While many people have outgrown Slippery When Wet, or will not openly admit that they still listen to it, I have not and do. To do this pick justice, we need to go back to August 1986. My first memory of this album comes in the form of a 6’4” (or maybe 6’6” with the perm) defensive end from our football team who blasted through the cafeteria doors one morning with a BoomBox blaring “You Give Love a Bad Name.” This ritual repeated at least 3-4 days a week for the next month and I was hooked. Moving on from my care-free memories of high school to the music itself, the album is chock-full of iconic ‘80s glam rock decadence. From its “Let it Rock” opening to its run-away hit “Livin’ on a Prayer” to power ballads like “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Never Say Goodbye,” listeners are treated to hit after hit of hard-rocking fun. I am proud to say that my son’s first stadium concert was Bon Jovi at the United Center two years ago. They pumped out many fan favorites from Slippery When Wet. Much to my wife’s chagrin, my son is now a fan.

Check out the track Wanted Dead Or Alive.


Artist: Morphine
Album: Good

Next Up: Keith

That moment. When time, place and mental state slide into perfect harmony with the music you’re hearing. It can’t be beat. One such experience for me was a chance encounter with the band Morphine on the radio in 1993. Here’s a link to the ORIGINAL NPR STORY if you want to play along at home. Anyway, I went directly to a local record store and bought their first album (Good). The sound was unlike anything I’d ever heard, 2-string slide bass, baritone saxophone and drums playing rock music? No guitar? Later that year they released a second album, one that many consider their best (Cure for Pain). You can’t go wrong adding either of these to your collection, but for me Good will always hold a special place as my first taste of Morphine. 

Check out the track Good.


Artist: Dinosaur Jr
Album: Green Mind

Finally: Steve

It’s no secret that Dinosaur Jr. is my favorite band. There’s no question, no close second, no debating it for me. I once sorted my t-shirt collection into categories (a collection my wife would argue is unreasonably large for a grown man, mind you) and Dinosaur Jr. is a category all its own.

Green Mind was my introduction. Fresh off a heavy metal garage band phase, 16 year old me found my soundtrack. Joseph Szabo’s 1969 photograph, “PRISCILLA”, (the album’s cover) “exudes all the moments of uncertainty, awkwardness, and bravado of pre-adulthood” and it’s a perfect visual for what you hear, and feel, in this album. J Mascis has said this is his least favorite album because it was recorded without bassist Lou Barlow and with only limited involvement by drummer Murph, but I think this might be what makes this album so good. In Green Mind, you can hear and feel the swirl of emotions and energy of an artist disappointed, hurt, anxious, full of youth, and a healthy dose of doubt… all wrapped up in the J Mascis drawl that might just be THE sound of GenX.

There is a driving burst of energy right out of the gate with “The Wagon” that settles into focus with “Puke and Cry”, a sense of anxiety in “Blowing It” that slips right into euphoria with “I Live for That Look”. Take a breather and reset with “Flying Cloud” because the rest of Green Mind is a roller coaster of energy, reflection, and playfulness.

There are better Dinosaur Jr. albums, especially since Mascis, Barlow, and Murph reunited in 2005. It was Green Mind that started it for me and remains a key component of my soundtrack decades later.

Check out the track I Live For That Look.

Artist: James Carr
Album: You Got My Mind Messed Up

James Carr was a friendly contemporary/rival of Otis Redding, and it’s easy to hear. Where Otis’ voice was always smooth as silk, James was more gruff. Clearly not as marketable he was buried in obscurity. Further, while Otis died young and is legendary, James checked himself in for mental health issues. Eagle-eyed viewers may notice how that affects the narrative. The truth is in the music, and it’s a rare occurrence when we play this that anyone gets beyond his first guttural wail before purchasing.

Check out the track Pouring Water On A Drowning Man.


Artist: Brenton Wood
Album: Oogum Boogum

I discovered this album in that glorious era when records were practically free and I could just take a chance on something that looked cool without breaking the bank (wistful sigh). This is a solid buy at any price! Already too good athletically, apparently, Alfred Smith changed his name and went into music. You absolutely know “Gimme Little Sign” but it’s wall to wall bangers. Save some talent for the rest of Al, I mean Brenton!

Check out the track Oogum Boogum.


Artist: The Prisonaires
Album: Five Beats Behind Bars

As eager as Hollywood is to make biopics, I don’t know why this story remains untold. Formed while in prison, this Doo-Wop group achieved commercial success in the early years of Sun Records. The “King” himself maintained a relationship with lead singer/songwriter Johnny Bragg. They were so popular that they were allowed to perform proper gigs, and at least once the fan response separated the band from the guards entirely, and they taxied back. They were made an example for the need for prison reform, for better or worse. Most of them were eventually set free, being guilty of, well you know. I discovered and fell in love with this sadly 3 months after Johnny Bragg had past. Not throwing any shade but sorry Johnny Ray, you cannot match this.

Check out the track Just Walkin’ in the Rain.

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Album: Flood

This album is fun – plain and simple. It’s an album that never really takes itself seriously…or does it? While TMBG’s songs are goofy, geeky, and full of charm, there is also always a little something more there to think about. Instrumentally, they make sure to hit all of the rock essentials – mandolin, accordion, melodica to name only a few. My parents often said that They Might Be Giants got them through the early years of parenthood with their amazing collection of kids albums including “Here Come the ABCs”, “Here Come the 123s” and “Here Comes Science”. No Barney in our house! I listened to TMBG A LOT when I was young, and I still enjoy listening to them to this day. In fact, my first concert was a TMBG show at The Vic when I was 5 and they have had a huge influence on my musical taste.

Check out the track Lucky Ball & Chain.


Artist: Suicide
Album: Suicide

This album is a throbbing, disturbing atmosphere of sound. It has an almost industrial sound with its pulsing synthesizers and creepy vocals and lyrics. It also has the distinction of featuring one of the scariest songs of all time – Frankie Teardrop. It’s genuinely frightening screams emphasize the grim, horrific story told in the lyrics. This album might be the exact opposite of my previous pick. Brace yourself for 10 minutes of discomfort.

Check out the track Frankie Teardrop.


Artist: The Doors
Album: The Doors

This is one of the records in my collection that I just keep playing over and over. The pounding keys alongside Jim Morrison’s moody and haunting lyrics create a unique sound and image that consistently draws me in. My favorite song from this album is the 12-minute monolith that is The End. It just doesn’t get better than this.

Check out the track The End.


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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