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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 Jennifer Malone.  Scroll down to read this week’s album picks from Jennifer, Shayne and Jaxon, or start your shopping now!  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.

Jennifer is a four-time School of Rock AllStar director and has served on content and innovation boards at the corporate level over her many years with the company. Jennifer is a voice teacher who loves coaching students of all levels to perform at their personal best through personalized training, biodynamics and stage prep.  She performs regularly with the bands 1976 and Hedgehog and the Fox. She has a long performing resume that includes musical theater, jazz, roots, rock and punk. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and two kids and spends her free time volunteering and engaged in social justice. 

And now…. (drumroll, please!) …here are Jennifer’s Vinyl Views!


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Blood On The Tracks

This may be my favorite album of all time. It sits just right. Each song is steeped in the Dylan myth and each song stands on its own as a composition. The tracks weave in and out of intimacy and distance. Dylan can be caustic and funny one moment and deeply vulnerable the next. If “Idiot Wind” isn’t a song of our times, I don’t know what is! Keep all your clever and desperate Zoom jams with ego-driven rock stars. I’ll take Bob in all his genius, awkwardness, and cultivated bravado, consistently landing a punch to the gut. “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” is a film in a song. There are punchlines all over this record: “people tell me it’s a sin-to know and feel too much within-I still believe she was my twin-but I lost the ring.” Dylan defies genre in the sense that “folk” is too fey a label. This is a collection of songs with bite and an undercurrent of displeasure with relationships and the wider world. And yet, it’s also achingly beautiful. It is the Great American Novel. And it reads as well today as ever.

Check out the track Idiot Wind.


Artist: Velvet Underground
Album: Loaded

This record is filthy. John Cale isn’t here for Lou Reed to argue with. Maureen Tucker delivers everything a drummer should and nothing they shouldn’t. And then she takes break to have a baby! The songwriting is sparse and as dark as a downtown alley. It’s arty and urban and imperfect. “Rock N Roll” is exactly what each of us felt as kids, sneaking music late into the night on a transistor radio that fit under the pillow. The band was always more expressive than virtuosic but they never lacked brilliance. This album is the 4th from the Velvets and more of a Lou solo effort than Warhol art project. There’s no Nico to hypnotize. It’s a late, late Saturday night album for after the action – when the few holdouts are primed to mainline ennui and scoff at the coming dawn. And doesn’t “Sweet Jane” just make you sing altogether too loud and off-key? “Loaded” is one well drink more than you needed and exactly what you were looking for. 

Check out the track Sweet Jane.


Artist: Joe Strummer
Album: 001

This is a fan’s collection: nothing but deep cuts, nostalgia, and rare one-offs. It also gives us an idea of what Joe was up to all those years he wasn’t in The Clash and what he was preparing to do next. And wasn’t it exactly right that his heart is what got him in the end? And that it was too soon and too unexpected and we were totally, brutally, unprepared? I remember that day, speaking up to offer a toast in the corner of a bar in Wicker Park that is long gone. I choked and couldn’t get much out and we all just nodded our heads and raised our glasses without words. Joe Strummer made rock n roll less vacuous and more raucous. He was the guy who made “take no prisoners” a performance tactic. If we have a moment here to stop and take stock of who we are, what we believe in, and how we got here; we could do no better than to ask ourselves, “WWJD: What Would Joe Do?” Joe would consider the plight of others, rattle the structures of power, and scream like Hell wake the apathetic. “People can change anything they want to and that means everything in the world” – Joe Strummer 

Check out the track It’s a Rockin’ World.


Artist: Frank Zappa
Album: Sheik Yerbouti

I cannot oversell the impact this had on me. The first Zappa album I ever bought was a Best Of collection, and even then it was only because I was getting it for free and recognized his name from “Smoke On The Water!” Much later I noticed my parents digging it… Usually not a good sign but I have particularly cool parents as many of you know. That little bit of culture shock drove me to sell off most of my CDs and buy more Zappa. Starting here. and Wowee Zowee!!! Apparently this car has no brakes.

Check out the track Baby Snakes.


Artist: Queen
Album: A Night at the Opera

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the most over-played songs of all time. That said, it’s not the best song on this album by a long shot. (Prophet’s Song and Seaside Rendevouz) This is one of a few albums (oh we’ll get there) where a parent introduced me to “MUSIC!”

Check out the track Seaside Rendevouz.


Artist: This Mortal Coil
Album: Filigree and Shadow

“Always in the shadow of your predecessor.” What could possibly make for a better album celebrating angst?!

Check out the track Tarantula.


Artist: Zombies
Album: Odyssey & Oracle

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York. I was familiar with all of the artists being inducted except one – The Zombies.  These old men walked on stage and absolutely blew my mind. Rod Argent’s keyboard playing was mesmerizing and those harmonies!  I fell in love with their music and this album is a masterpiece. Every second of this album from the 1960s sounds interesting and relevant today.  

Check out the track Beechwood Park.


Artist: Frank Iero
Album: Barriers

This is the third solo album from Frank Iero, rhythm guitarist of My Chemical  Romance.  Frank’s solo work has a much harsher sound than MCR and this was probably my favorite album of 2019. It is an all around great modern punk album and is definitely worth a listen.

Check out the track Moto Pop.


Artist: Death Grips
Album: The Money Store

This is one of the most innovative albums in recent years. It fuses noise rock with hip hop seamlessly, creating something new. MC Ride is the perfect frontman for this project. Zach Hill is the creative mastermind of the project and one of the most impressive drummers I have ever heard. Add Andy Morin on keyboards, and you have a sound that is completely unique. This album is noisy, angry, and all around amazing.

Check out the track Lost Boys.


How Do I Order Music (Or Other Things)?

Val’s halla has worked hard over this quarantine period to launch its Online Store which has over 1,000 titles for you to choose from.  The majority of the inventory in the Online Store consists of new vinyl records with some new CD titles as well.  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!

What Are You Looking For?