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Vinyl Views is our weekly blog where we feature album recommendations from our store team (Shayne and Jaxon), and reveal picks from guest contributors. This week we hear from Oak Parker, Sandra Escobar, who brings us some Latin flavor to this week’s Vinyl Views. 

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Sandra is a research scientist and epidemiologist whose work focuses on advocating for the most marginalized communities in Chicago. Originally from Los Angeles, Sandra’s love for music started early on, listening to Spanish speaking artists with her mom, and classic and alternative rock with her dad. At age 13, Sandra taught herself how to play the guitar by listening to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album and practicing songs from the album over and over and over. She eventually formed her own band with two high school girlfriends (called The Sheryls) and their short musical career resulted in two original songs that they played at talent shows and high school dances. Sandra continues to delve into artistry and self-exploration through music, whether it be by listening to artists who highly align with her values or ethnic roots, dancing and moving her body for fun and stress relief, or writing and composing songs which allow her to just have fun and play. Sandra lives in Oak Park with her husband, sister, dog, and lizard.

Artist: Natalia Lafourcade
Album: Musas: Un Homenaje al Folclore Latinoamericano en Manos de Los Macorinos, Vol 1 y 2

Every song on Musas by Natalia Lafourcade feels rich in Latin American history, authenticity, love and life. Whenever I listen to the song ‘Derecho de Nacimiento’ I feel a sense of resiliency and empowerment. ‘Derecho de Nacimiento’, translates to ‘Birthright’ in English. Natalia sings that we are all born with rights as human beings, to just live, exist, be at peace, to pursue liberty and happiness. It’s a song about solidarity, about standing up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, and to find the power within us to build and sustain a movement that includes and protects every human being.

Check out the track Derecho de Nacimiento.


Artist: Loli Cosmica
Song: Tzen Tze Re Rei

This is a cover of an original song by Nase Chiriap, from the Shaur community in Ecuador. ‘Tzen Tze Re Rei’ is considered an indigenous medicine song, composed by shamans and believed to have healing powers. ‘Tzen Tze Re Rei’ translates to ‘the arrow that passes and opens the doors’. This cover by Loli Cosmica (a musical artist based in Argentina), has gotten me through some pretty heavy times amidst the pandemic and social unrest of 2020. It reminds me of being cradled like a baby, and makes me feel that although there is a lot of uncertainty and heaviness in the world, the universe is looking out for us because the universe exists within us. 

Check out the track Tzen Tze Re Rei.


Artist: Caroline Rose
Album: Loner

So, I asked my husband whether he’d be okay with me being Caroline Rose’s lover if the opportunity ever presented itself and he said he would totally understand. I love this artist so much (she is incredibly talented, a beautiful soul, and brings so much rawness, joy, and happiness to everything she does) and feel like so much of what she embodies comes through in the song Bikini! To me, this is a song about feminism and how women are sometimes expected to be transactional when it comes to finding success or being liked by others. By acting and calling it out, the song is basically telling the superficial sleazeballs of the world that we know what’s up and aren’t falling for it.

Check out the track Bikini!

Artist: Roger Miller
Album: Words and Music

I was introduced to Roger Miller early on working with Val, or at least I thought I had. I became a big fan of his music but couldn’t shake the notion that it sounded very familiar. We chalked it up to just remembering King Of The Road but eventually it clicked. I’d been a fan since I was little because of his role as the minstrel rooster in Disney’s Robin Hood cartoon! It would seem I’ve always had good taste. 

Check out the track My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died.


Artist: The Shangri-La’s
Album: Leader of the Pack

With Leader Of The Pack, The Shangri-La’s became the poster children for the “teenage tragedy song” a favorite genre of mine, and while they tried to push their image of being the “tough girls” of the girl group set, their more bubblegum fair is every bit as enjoyable as the angsty songs they’re famous for. Both are on display on their debut album which would go on to inspire many artists particularly in early punk rock.

Check out the track Give Him a Great Big Kiss.


Artist: Dusty Springfield
Album: Dusty in Memphis

This is maybe an obvious choice considering it’s consistently listed as one of the greatest albums of all time. Unlikely I’m turning anyone on to some new exciting gem with this pick but amazingly despite it’s current reputation the album was basically a flop upon it’s initial release. How it could go unappreciated for any amount of time is baffling to me. Particularly the sultry masterpiece Son Of A Preacher Man which is firmly in my top five of most perfect songs ever recorded.

Check out the track Son of a Preacher Man.

Artist: PUP
Album: PUP

For this week, I decided to revisit my very angsty pop-punk phase, and talk about some of the albums that stuck with me, and I still love.

This PUP album has a little rage and angst and is a high-energy blend of pop-punk and indie rock. The songs have a very anthemic feel to them, with pounding drums, blaring guitars, and half-sung vocals. This is a perfect blend of harmony and cacophony that I would recommend to anyone in that certain kind of mood.

Check out the track Never Try.


Artist: Modern Baseball
Album: You’re Gonna Miss It All

This album played through my headphones on my way to school SOOO many times during the tail end of 8th grade and early in freshman year. This album draws from folk-rock roots, but with contrasting pop-punk energy. This masterpiece has introspective ballads and high energy anthems. There is so much emotion packed into this album, and I love it.

Check out the track Going to Bed Now.


Artist: Frank Iero
Album: Parachutes

This album is one of my favorites of all time, at least at this point in my life. I know this album like the back of my hand and I keep coming back to it over and over. If you have been in the store and started talking to me about modern punk, I’ve probably tried to sell you a Frank Iero album. He is probably best known as the rhythm guitarist for My Chemical Romance, but his solo work is a little rougher around the edges, and I can’t get enough of it. 

Check out the track Veins, Veins, Veins.

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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