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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 we hear from OWEN ARNOLD!

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I’m Owen, I think I have music playing almost 24/7 if it’s not of my own creation, it’s the slowly growing collection of records that’s filling my world.

Artist: Lespecial
Album: Ancient Homies

What if my favorite band was a jam band? That’s essentially what Lespecial does with Ancient Homies, drawing influences from everyone from Primus inspired bass to Tool inspired guitars. Released in 2020 Lespecial’s third studio album is their most polished effort yet. Lespecial delivers a concept album of outlandish proportions, A hunt for 3 ancient creatures. While not quite as bizarre as their debut OmniSquid the album delivers with far catchier riffs and emphasis on the hypnotic keys. The groovy bass lines keep the listener engaged during songs that can evolve into psychedelic inspired jams or just as easily a heavy metal riff. The genre bending doesn’t just stop there, with techno inspired keys and haunting vocals the album’s cohesiveness is beyond impressive. Despite all of this the album is a surprisingly easy listen, one that can become soothing background music or subject to an intensive listen. 

Check out the song Machine Elf

Artist: Ween
Album: Quebec

Unequivocally and unapologetically weird, Ween sheds some of their token “brown” sound in favor of a much more accessible, yet still just as strange sound in Quebec. The most impressive thing about Quebec is how many different sounds Dean and Gene Ween are able to fit into one album. From punk rock to psychedelic musings this album has something for every listener. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ween’s Quebec is how many different vocal deliveries Gene Ween uses. The album constantly keeps the listener engaged with shadowy synths that Gene’s voice floats over to heavy over-driven guitar that cuts through every other song. The album still has the classic Ween weirdness, songs such as Zoloft and Happy Colored Marbles have so much going on they feel like a small trip. The best song on the album is the lo fi rock inspired Tried And True. One of the clean guitar tracks on the album along with Gene’s echoing vocals uplift the listener and is a perfect glimpse into what Ween is truly capable of musically.

Check out the track Tried And True

Artist: Lightning Bolt
Album: Sonic Citadel

Noisy, violent and chaotic. All words that would accurately describe Lightning Bolt’s Sonic Citadel. Lightning Bolt’s strength is Brian Chippendale’s thunderous and rapidly shifting drumming which will have you jumping up and down or head banging as he mutters nonsensical lyrics into a microphone jammed in a ski mask. Not to be out-shined Brian Gibson manages to create rumbling bass riffs that not only are incredibly catchy, but manage to not overshadow the drums. Lightning Bolt will twist and turn constantly shifting the sound before your brain gets a chance to catch up with what they’re doing. The result, a headbangers delight. Despite being a two piece Lightning Bolt consistently finds ways to expand their sonic sound in new directions. With Sonic Citadel they created their most cohesive record to date.

Check out the track Air Conditioning

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Album: Helplessness Blues

I never imagined myself to be a Fleet Foxes fan, it’s just normally not what I go for, but I completely love this album. I definitely have my Mom’s ipod to thank for my discovery of it, but listening to it feels like sunshine and being lazy and makes me so happy. The acoustic guitar is folk at its best, and I think the use of chorus background vocals really compliments how good the composition already is. There is not a bad song on this album. 

Check out the track: Montezuma


Artist: Girlschool
Album: What Chaos Is Imaginary

I only knew a few songs off this album for a long time, just good indie rock. I don’t know when I fully listened to it but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a really nice variation of genres. It’s still at heart indie rock, but there’s clearly inspiration pulled from dream pop, some shoegaze (listen to Chemical Freeze)  and some folk rock ( there’s a very Elliot Smith-esque song called All Blacked Out). More than all of that, the writing and lyrics are incredibly poetic and well fit to each song.

Check out the track: Hire

Artist: Dr. Octagon
Album: Dr. Octagonecologyst

Nothing hits the spot quite like 90s rap, DOOM and Del will always be some of my favorites. This album has the 90’s rap feel, but also it nails the story telling, character building, and the unique and committed samples. I think I love this album especially because Dan the Automator produced it, and it stands out as one of his projects. It’s goofy and amazing front to back.

Check out the track: Earth People

Artist: Injury Reserve
Album: Floss

Though Ritchie with a T may say otherwise, Floss is a great jazz rap album with mixes of electronic and
industrial sounds. It sounds great and has some really catchy songs and instrumentals and it’s a damn
shame it isn’t more popular. Really worth a listen!

Check out the track All This Money


Artist: Merzbow
Album: Pulse Demon

Pulse Demon is a very popular and accessible harsh noise album and it is a pain on the ears for sure. It’s not something you would recommend to your average listener and it is borderline migraine inducing, but I love it and it is great fun even though it’s a rough listen. Check it out if you so please.

Check out the track Worms Plastic Earthbound


Artist: Frank Zappa
Album: Hot Rats

Hot Rats is an essential record in any Zappa fans catalogue or in any jazz fans catalogue. It is some of Zappa’s best instrumental work and really shows how talented he was as a composer and performer. It shows how progressive he was and how he wasn’t afraid to try new things at the time and it’s a great listen.

Check out the track Son Of Mr. Green Genes

How Do I Order Music (Or Other Things)?

Val’s is now open again (safely)! Be sure to wear a mask and keep safe social distancing, of course.  Val’s halla has thousands of titles in its Online Store and we continue to add inventory everyday.  Can’t find what you are looking for?  Just let us know and we are happy to look through our off-line inventory of over 50,000 titles.  Also, we place orders with our record distributors 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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