Review: Sam Means — Blue Jeans/Found

Reviews / June 9, 2014

Newest 7″ from Sam Means a hidden gem amongst the RSD selections

Photo Finish Records

Released as part of Record Store Day 2014, the newest 7″ release from Sam Means (The Format) may just be the hidden gem of the celebration, which ironically enough was all but hidden to this Pennsylvania resident for months. The 7″, limited to 500 copies, is headlined by a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans,” a song which features the vocals of Anthony Green, while Means takes on the chic instrumentation of this brand of pop. And while the track may seem like a strange choice, the voices of Del Rey and Green stick out within their respective genres, actually making for quite the match. Green takes lines that were originally crooned, like “Love you more/Than those bitches before,” while injecting some real anger into the proceedings, dancing along the edge of Circa Survive territory. It’s a real and genuine match between the two and isn’t the gimmick the previously selected lyrics would make you expect. And this is the second time, after Green’s collaboration with Nate Ruess on “Only Love,” that the frontman has taken pop-like hooks and has successfully added some of his signature vocal cues on top of them.

“Found” is more of what you’d expect from the former member of The Format and is Means thankfully stepping to the forefront for the first time. The pop-rock ditty finds an audible layer of fuzz placed over John O’Reilly Jr.’s  impressive percussion, accompanied by Means’ underrated vocals. A simple chorus anchors the proceedings, which has Means singing “You took all the love that I found,” which you’d have to assume presents an emotional improvement over the beginning of “I’m feeling down again/I must been mistaken then cause/Every time I think about it, feelings hit the floor.”

The only issue? That Means isn’t giving himself top billing on his own 7″. A cover with a special guest should be B-side material and with “Found” being one of Means’ more impressive solo accomplishments, it deserved top billing. A cover, and one of a pop star, is certainly more marketable, but Means has the chops to headline the disc and deserves to.

Sound Quality

The bass in the opening notes of “Blue Jeans” is surprisingly deep and whenever you’re spinning something from the pop arenas, that low end is crucial to proper representation. Green’s vocals are above average, if a bit muddled, but it’s nothing too damaging. The key work that comes about halfway through the song could have been a bit more pronounced, as well. In “Found,” the vocals once again could use a little work, but the entire track has that layer of fuzz over it, so you can’t complain too loudly. The vocal imperfections are most prominent in the last section of the track, a layering of “ooohs” lacking proper depth. The instrumentation is balanced, though, which must be appreciated.

Packaging

The 7″ record is packaged in your standard jacket, while the clear vinyl is packaged in a white inner sleeve. The center labels on my 7″ were a little torn up, but the pale coloring was a perfect match for the cover art. Speaking of that cover art, a pair of blue jeans sits on the front in honor of the A-side and the back features tracklisting and complete credits. Nothing crazy and you’d like a lyric sheet, but solid quality nonetheless.

Extras

You have to include a digital download for something like this. Record Store Day is all about celebrating the physical product, but if you’re spending $8 on a 7″ record (or $4 per song) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to add it to the digital device and throw it on the summer road trip playlist. And actually, the songs aren’t available for purchase at Means’ Bandcamp, just streaming. The record was pressed on one variant, a nicely selected clear vinyl, while limited to 500.

Summary

Although there’s some presentation miscues attached to the newest 7″ record from Sam Means, the tracks pressed to that record are must haves for fans of The Format or pop rock in general. An original of “Found” is among the best of his solo work, while an Anthony Green-aided cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” has the Circa Survive frontman competently tackling the pop icon’s style and lovelorn lyrical work. You would have liked Means to take top billing on his own 7″, though. The lack of a digital download should have been remedied, as well, marking the biggest deduction.

Make Sure To Spin

“Found” & “Blue Jeans”

The 7″ is not on sale at any online locations. This copy was purchased at Buffalo’s Record Theatre in the University Plaza location. One copy was still there.


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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.






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