Sam Means “10 Songs”
While not a household name, Sam Means was one half of the celebrated Arizona indie-pop act The Format alongside Nate Ruess (who later went on to form the Grammy Award-winning act, fun.) It took a while, but Means’ debut full-length 10 Songs was worth the wait and is bursting with an creative energy plus Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning Jr. helped with arrangements!
Each song is part of a emotional narrative about the transition to adulthood. “How To Sing” is both whimsical and subtle with its bass lead and horn flourishes that builds to near white noise. Next “We’re Alone” is like a slow, gentle prayer that leads to “The Other Side Of You,” a catchy ear-worm with an accending scale (reminded me of Field Music here). “Taking it Back To Yesterday” is the main theme of the album; a simple piano melody that grows into a sweet sing along. RJ Manning’s fingerprints are subtle, but on “Calina” it’s easy to spot on this brilliantly catchy song. The relaxed “All I Ever Wanted” is another feel good gem, but as we close out the album it slows as the mood turns inward on “Bigger Heart” that could be compared to Mark Oliver Everett (Eels) or Salim Norallah. Overall a brilliant album that gets on my top ten of 2016 list.
Latvian Radio “Until Tomorrow Gets In The Way”
Latvian Radio is back with their fifth album as the band continues to blend Patric Westoo’s tight vocals with steady guitar riffs mixing both power-pop, UK post punk and new wave influences. Starting with “Eyes Behind The Lens” its a dense chiming melody with layered horns, vocals and a jangling rhythm. The organ textures cover the strong composition “Power Lines and Bedroom Blinds” with some nice percussive work from Mark Poole.
The music seems to get looser as we go forward, “Weight of The World” has a catchy synth hook and a casual narrative that make it my favorite track on the album. While the backing harmonies and light melody of “Tease and Please” is a bit tedious, the albums tone shifts to a more rock orientation on “Letter To The National Enquirer.” Latvian Radio continues to be criminally overlooked and deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.