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Vinyl Views is our weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team and reveal picks from guest contributors. This week we hear from our good buddy Dan Hooper! We can’t all be rockstar astrophysicists but we can aspire!

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Check out Spectral Distortions along with our other friends, Vortis on Nov 15 at The Hideout!

Dan Hooper is an Oak Parker and is the guitar player for The Spectral Distortions, a Chicago-based punk band that consists (mostly) of people who do theoretical physics research for their day jobs. Frenetic, loud, and abrasive, their songs are often about science or science culture, and can be both playful and introspective. They are fond of (modestly) referring to themselves as our universe’s premiere physics-punk band. They released their debut recording, “The First 25 Minutes,” at a recent live show at Val’s. Dan also plays with the longstanding Chicago soul outfit, The Congregation.

You can find The Spectral Distortions’ new album, “The First 25 Minutes,” on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Bandcamp.


Artist: Dead Boys
Album: Young, Loud & Snotty

There are a lot of things that one might hope to get out of a record. But if all you really want is to rock, there is nowhere better to look than to the Dead Boys’ debut album. From the first chord of Sonic Reducer, this record pulls you in. Tracks like What Love Is and I Need Lunch (yep, that’s not a typo) maintain the energy of the experience. Raw, passionate, and uncompromising, the Dead Boys were an essential part of the mid-’70s New York punk scene. You can definitely hear the influences of the Stooges and the New York Dolls in this record. Perhaps more interesting, I’d argue, is that you can also hear the groundwork being set for what would become ’80s hardcore. Without question, this album is my single favorite example of early punk rock.

Check out the track: Sonic Reducer

Artist: The Minutemen
Album: What Makes A Man Start Fires?

The Minutemen are the very embodiment of the thinking person’s punk rock band. Song after song and album after album, they have made me expand my view of what punk rock can be. Although D. Boone and Mike Watt must have been influenced by any number of bands that came before them, it’s hard to tell what those influences were — all but the faintest traces of them are buried beneath thick layers of innovation and reinvention. Every song is fresh, and every song is interesting.

The Minutemen’s most well-known record, “Double Nickels on the Dime,” is and deserves to be in the pantheon of legendary punk rock records. For a couple of reasons, however, I’ve decided to write instead about one of their earlier albums, “What Makes a Man Start Fires?” First of all, I’ve been more strongly influenced by this album — it just speaks to me and second, it receives a lot less attention than it deserves. Opening with my favorite track, Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs, this album not only brings an inordinate amount of energy to the table, but offers lyrics that can make you authentically reconsider what you think you know about the world.

Check out the track: Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs

Artist: Metallica
Album: Kill ‘Em All

As a teenager, I was a dedicated metalhead. Slayer, Megadeth, Venom, and Motorhead were all staples of my CD collection. I haven’t played metal since high school, however, and it’s been a refreshing experience to rediscover some elements of this genre with the Spectral Distortions. In particular, our song Poha (Nao Aguento Mais) lies on the boundary of punk and thrash metal, reminding me of early Metallica and other metal pioneers. In revisiting Metallica’s first album, “Kill ‘Em All,” I don’t hear the self-indulgent arena rockers that this band would later become. There is no discernable pretension on this record. There are no sprawling, melancolic arrangements. There are no radio hits. Instead, this album is a pure example of thrash metal being played with the kind of enthusiasm and energy that this genre requires. If you’ve never experienced this record, you should change that. If you once knew it well, you should give it another listen — it remains an absolute treasure.

Check out the track: Seek & Destroy

Artist: Sadness
Album: I Want To Be There

Few albums have been in constant rotation for me over the past calendar year as much as this one has been. Sadness is one of the many monikers of Damián Antón Ojeda. Over the past decade or so, Damián has demonstrated one of the most insanely dedicated work ethics out of almost any musician, having put out far over 100 different albums and ep’s under different names. How he manages to not just put out this insane mass of musical output, but also have the final product feel so densely layered and brilliantly crafted with waves of emotion and pure ethereal noise, still perplexes me. On this album, he masterfully weaves elements of Shoegaze, Ambient, Black Metal, and Emo, all into one densely layered 40-minute experience. If you are interested in extremely layered tracks with tons of noise, with some beautiful dynamics, I would highly recommend this project.

Check out the track In The Distant Travels

Artist: Arthur Russell
Album: World Of Echo

Arthur Russel’s second album, World Of Echo, is one of those special albums that hit this dense emotional space that feels extremely intimate. The compositions on this record take  reverb-drenched cello melodies and mix them with soft half-whispered vocals. There is just something so peaceful about this album, and it feels so calming to me. A blend of avant-garde elements brought into folk and electronic territory.

Check out the track  Soon-To-Be Innocent Fun/Let’s See

Artist: Luis Cilia
Album: Memoria

Luis Cilia is a Portuguese singer-songwriter and composer. His music was often reflective of the turbulent times that were surrounding Portugal then, as there was tons of revolution and reform happening. This record combines his typical singer-songwriter sound with very stripped-back finger-style guitar playing with intimate-sounding production. But one song on this album is not like the others. That is the title track Memoria, which is a strange audio collage that plays for 7 minutes. This track in paricular feels not too far off from a lot of the works of bands like Throbbing Gristle. It feels like an oddity that is ahead of its time. This whole album is great and is a fairly buried and obscure gem that is waiting to be rediscovered by the wider music nerd audience, as it is still currently shrouded in obscurity. I feel lucky to have randomly stumbled across this album, and I hope more people will check it out. Check out the track “O Mar Não Precisa de Ter Ondas” for a track representative of the folk sound, but also check out the title track “Memória” for a taste of something unique and ahead of its time

Check out the track O Mar Nao Precisa de Ter Ondas

Check out the track Memoria

Artist: Aqua
Album: Aquarius

Better believe I bought tickets for this show!  Probably overpaid but I haven’t been this excited for a concert in a long time!  Putting together this Vinyl Views I was certain I’d be repeating myself with this selection but apparently I’ve only used them in playlists.  If you’re only familiar with Barbie Girl you may have written them off without realizing they had their tongues firmly in cheek all along.  They deserve a reevaluation for just being a ton of fun!

Check out the track Bumble Bees

Artist: Various
Album: Italo Disco Club

This excellent compilation was recently released on vinyl and was a day one buy for me.  While not identical, it is very nearly track for track the same as a CD my friend burned for me years ago that I all but wore out!  The connection to the very obvious theme I’m going for here is that the first track (by KEN Laszlo) was spoofed recently in Planet Of The Bass and I have a feeling that could be a surprise opener for Aqua!  Trying not to get my hopes too high but man that makes a lot of sense!

Check out the track Hey Hey Guy


Artist: Various
Album: Barbie the Album

I mean come on!  It’s absolutely the movie of the year and the soundtrack is amazing.  Given the tremendous box office success it’s hard to imagine anyone is still on the fence about it, you’ve either seen it or you never will.  The sheer cultural force of this film brought Aqua back into the conversation despite not even being featured on the soundtrack outside of a sample.  That’s Kenough for me!

Check out the track I’m Just Ken

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