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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 Max DiFrisco.  Max in a School of Rock Oak Park alum now performing under the name Westhead. 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!

Max DiFrisco is a School of Rock Oak Park alum currently making music under the name Westhead. Formerly of local bands Jonnycatland and Idioglossia, Max has already made his rounds in the Chicagoland music scene before the age of twenty. Coming off the heels of two semesters in Asheville, North Carolina and a stint as the guitarist of dream pop outfit Computer Science, Max is looking for a fresh start with the Westhead moniker. An EP should be coming by Autumn 2020. For now, two singles, “Care Free” and “Antibes”, are streaming everywhere!

Artist: Joanna Newsom
Album: Ys

I would give anything to hear this record for the first time again. It is genuinely one of the most pristine and jaw-droppingly amazing pieces of folk music ever put together. Joanna’s lyricism playing off of Van Dyke Parks’ compositions is something that I could talk about forever. With no track being under 8 minutes long, each is a full-blown epic. The album opener “Emily” is one of the greatest songs ever written and I will take that to the grave.

Check out the track Emily.


Artist: Walter Martin
Album: The World at Night

This release unfortunately flew a bit under the radar, but is without a doubt my favorite release of 2020 so far. Walter Martin, formerly of The Walkmen, takes the listener through what feels like one long and perfect bedtime story. He has this uncanny ability to go back and forth between playfulness and poignancy. The record is littered with indulgent string, horn, and woodwind arrangements. I’m a sucker for that. Whether he is making legitimate children’s records (which are amazing) or writing about art history (which is also great), don’t let this dude pass you by.  

Check out the track Little Summer Fly.


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Curtis

Here’s another pick that is ripe with over-indulgent and luscious orchestral arrangements (are you sensing a theme here?). This record is a classic. It transcends the Soul genre and brings me to some heavenly scene whenever I listen to it. Curtis’s voice never sounded any better than it does here with songs like “The Makings of You” literally see him sounding like an angel. The album oozes confidence, beauty, and utter coolness. It’s a must-listen for any R&B and Soul fan.

Check out the track The Makings of You.

Artist: Shaw? Lerner & Loewe?
Album: My Fair Lady

Believe it or not this is the thing Val and I spent the most time scrutinizing. We played the OBC, OSC and the rerecorded stereo mix song for song. We compared both versions of the blu ray on the store projector (major difference in quality during the Ascot horse race scene) and we even plopped down a blanket and watched Pygmalion in the park. Debating what was the superior version went beyond album and/or production and became a track to track distinction with no clear winner. For my money the face of Audrey Hepburn paired with the voice of Marni Nixon is almost unconquerable… Except…

Check out the track Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.


Artist: Bernstein/Sondheim
Album: West Side Story

…When paired with Natalie Wood. Marni Nixon, the voice of my many crushes. If I ever find out she did VO work for Winona Ryder it’s just over. Anyway, much more than a “modern” retelling of Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story stands alone as a masterwork in and of itself. I keep hearing that they want to remake this film and I just can’t figure out how? If you modernize it it’s Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet, if you keep it as is, why? Who could you possibly cast? I am rambling now and will happily continue any time someone asks me. This is a perfect film, hands off.

Check out the track I Feel Pretty.


Artist: Stephen Sondheim
Album: Sweeney Todd

And the Sondheim connection brings us to a broadway/hollywood crush who didn’t need Marni’s or anyone else’s help doing anything. Whether that meant solving mysteries, monologuing as a sentient teapot or, in this case, baking people in pies. Angela Lansbury. I’ve seen more versions of this than I care to admit, some good, many bad, the one constant is no one else can ever be Mrs. Lovett.

Check out the track A Little Priest.

Artist: MC5
Album: Kick Out The Jams

This album is a burst of high energy proto-punk and it is perhaps one of the most legendary live albums ever recorded. It was recorded lover a two-day period at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in late-October, 1968. They are defiant. They are chaotic. In a word, they are punk.

Check out the title track Kick Out The Jams.


Artist: Death Grips
Album: Exmilitary

This album explores concepts of paranoia and survival. The vocals are extremely aggressive, and the loud, experimental music gives this entire album an intense feel. The tracks on this record flow seamlessly from one to another. This is definitely one of my favorite Death Grips albums. Many anthems from their discography are on this album such as Guillotine and Takyon, but the song I pick is Klink.

Check out the track Klink.


Artist: Captain Beefheart
Album: Trout Mask Replica

Maybe the weirdest album of all time. The absurd and confusing lyrics are growled over a band who isn’t always playing in the same time signature. It feels like a giant middle finger to the music industry, a statement that they can make whatever. It is just listenable enough to be enjoyable in the right mood, but is also unlistenable for the same reasons. I say give it a try. You may not like this album at first, but come back to it. I hated it at first, but was able to enjoy it after a few listens. It is now an album I love, and I hope that you may, eventually, love it too.

Check out the track My Human Gets Me Blues.


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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