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Vinyl Views is our weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team (Shayne, Jaxon, Lilah & Declan) and reveal picks from guest contributors. This week hear from Jonathon Nelson!

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Jonathon is an avid audio gear collector and enthusiast, having built his system mostly around analog reporduction. While vinyl is the main medium due to availability, Jonathon also enjoys reel-to-reel 1/2 track media and cassettes. He has two cats who are brothers named Appa and Momo along with 2 freshwater tanks, one for African Cichlids and a mixed South American/Asian tank. While growing up outside of New Orleans curated a strong passion for Jazz, he also listens to quite a bit of industrial, synth-pop, funk, folk, and techno. Outisde of playing the bari sax and tuba for 8 years during school, Jonathon has no other affiliation to the music world and enjoys keeping his passion seperate from work.

Gear List: Sumiko BPS EVO III HOMC cartridge, Denon DL-103R LOMC cartridge, Technics SL-1200G turntable, AT-1005 Mk. II tonearm, Sutherland KC Vibe Mk. II and TZ Vibe phono stages, Tascam 42B tape deck, Nakamichi BX-300 cassette deck, Holo Audio Spring II DAC, Pass Labs XP-20 preamp, Bogen MO-100A mono block tube amps, Grundig NF-20 tube amp, Stromberg Carlson ASR-660 integrated tube amp, Crown Comtech 410 & 1610 solid state amps, Urei 809 coaxial 12′ speakers, Urei 813 Coaxial 15″ speakers, and JBL AS 2212 speakers.

Artist: Arthur Verocai
Album: Arthur Verocai

Released in 1972, this self titled album is the perfect mix of Funk, Samba, and Bossa Nova influences. The debut album for Arthur Verocai never saw commercial success in Brazil, and was a key factor in why he didn’t release another album for 30 years. I was introduced to this album at Steelworker Records in Tampa it has been played borderline ad nauseam ever since. Reading the lyrics of this album will reveal that this light sounding album is not exactly as it seems. Recorded 8 years into the military dictatorship of Brazil that started in 1964, several tracks are laden with anit-establishment sentiments criticizing the actions of the government. My favorite track on the album, “Presente Grego” (Greek Gift), is literally referring to the album as a Trojan Horse disguising itself and it’s intentions through metaphors able to slip past the censorship. Whether you want a critical listening session or a relaxing backdrop for the evening, this well-recorded album will likely fit the bill.

Check out the track Presente Grego

Artist: Abner Jay
Album: The True Story Of Abner Jay

There is nothing I can say about this album that wouldn’t be woefully outshined by listening to Abner Jay himself. The self proclaimed “last working Southern black minstrel” draws on influences from pre-blues African American spirituals and minstrel shows. Having performed for plantation owners at age 5 before becoming a one-man band and touring during the late 30s into World War II, Abner’s unique origin story gives an incredibly raw and candid view that couldn’t be conveyed any other way. Not having been classically trained, his style is unique but not at all unimaginitive. His deep, raspy tone is a remnant of surviving throat cancer in his twenties and the simple selection of a banjo, harmonica, and a kick drum strips away any sense of pretentiousness from the music. This album will never win any awards for recording quality, but that honestly plays into what makes this work special. It’s not an every day listen, nor a happy album at all, but I think it would have a place in any collection.

Check out the track  I’m So Depressed



Artist: Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Lucia
Album: Friday Night In San Francisco

An audiophile classic for good reason, this masterful live performance by 3 of the best acoustic Flamenco and Latin Jazz guitarists of all time showcases not only the limits of what can be conveyed without vocals but also how good a live recording can sound. If you have never expressed interest in acoustic guitar music, this might be the album that brings you over. The first track of the album sets you in your place from the start, and makes me wish that I could have been there for the 1981 recording in person. It is a momentum driven album that is seemingly unable to become boring. Every listen will shine a light on a different section and allow you to continue diving into it. It’s an album that has been written about extensively, and I encourage you to do some of your own digging into the history of not only this session but each artist individually. This is one of the 3 definitive albums in my eyes to test a system with, and certainly one to splurge on a good pressing of.

.Check out the track Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho

Check out the playlist here or come into the store and listen to it in our Sounderator (tricked out 1940’s refrigerator that you sit in while enjoying a tasty selection of tunes).

Shayne’s playlist this week is titled Lately


From: Shayne:

These last few weeks have been a lot for me but I’ve been taking some very positive steps in the right direction and this playlist is a bit of a window into that journey.

Access the Spotify Playlist Here =>   


Song: Fitter Happier

Alice In Chains

Song: Down In A Hole

Nine Inch Nails

Song: Down In It


Song: Hilo


Destiny’s Child

Song: Bug A Boo

Don Henley

Song: Dirty Laundry


Song: Friends

Depeche Mode

Song: Clean


Steve Winwood

Song: Back In The High Life Again


Daft Punk

Song: Harder Better Faster Stronger


Artist: The Caretaker
Album: Everywhere At The End Of Time

EATEOT is 6 ½ hour long, completely electronic, concept album that depicts the 6 Stages of Dementia. It begins with 1930s – 1950s era ballroom music with the music slowly becoming more distorted and hazy, when as time goes on, goes less from being music, and more into desolate, dystopian, terrifying, droning, noises. It depicts the mind trying to recollect its favorite songs and sounds which then turn into
the mind becoming less and less human. Its extremely depressing and emotional and I believe its one of the greatest musical achievements of our generation. This album is not for the faint of heart but I HIGHLY recommend it.


.Check out the track Temporary Bliss State




Artist: Lingua Ignota
Album: Caligula

Caligula by Lingua Ignota (Kristin Hayter) is a Neoclassical Darkwave, folk, noise album that illustrates revenge against an abuser. Kristin Hayter has gone through unimaginable abuse throughout her life and she uses this album to express her hatred, anger, and sheer rage, through the medium of music. This album is a disturbing roller-coaster of hell and I love every second of it. It’s absolutely beautiful and it frustrates me so much that such good music stems from such pain and suffering.

Check out the track Do You Doubt Me Traitor?


Artist: Danny Brown
Album: Atrocity Exhibition

Atrocity Exhibition describes a downward spiral in drug abuse, drug addiction, and drug dealing. It’s a very dark and twisted album, that is brought together by Brown’s unique vocals and intelligent and witty songwriting. The Lyrics are extremely dark and depressing yet it’s masked by Browns vocals and it’s hard to realize how messed up the album really is unless you read into the lyrics. It’s incredible and I thinks it’s a severely underrated rap album.

Check out the track Pneumonia

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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