Clem Snide

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You Were A Diamond (1998), 6/10
Your Favorite Music (2000), 6.5/10
The Ghost Of Fashion (2001), 6/10
Soft Spot (2003), 6/10
End Of Love (2005), 6/10
Hungry Bird (2009), 4/10
The Meat Of Life (2011), 4/10
Eef Barzelay: Bitter Honey (2006), 6.5/10

Clem Snide is a New York-based alt-country outfit that gravitates around Eef Barzelay's lyrics. You Were A Diamond (Tractor Beam, 1998) was mostly devoted to monotonous but poignant stories, in a style that continued the tradition of Nick Drake and Smog (Better). Barzelay's talent for orchestrating in deceptively simple ways (mostly cello and standup bass) his melancholy stories emerged on Your Favorite Music (Cooking Vinyl, 2000). Songs such as (Your Favorite Music, I Love The Unknown and Messiah Complex Blues manage to sound varied while being very similar, a sign of cohesiveness and completeness.

The Ghost Of Fashion (Spinart, 2001) was a mixed blessing, following in the footsteps of its predecessor (Let's Explode, No One's More Happy Than You) but at times indulging too much in the singer's skewed sense of humour rather than on the music.

The band learned how to arrange their songs on Soft Spot (2003), a lavish production whose only problem is that songs such as Happy Birthday are not as vivid as on previous efforts.

Clem Snide's fifth album End Of Love (Spinart, 2005) is a relaxed and unassuming collection, which again relies on tasteful arrangements and irony (The Sound Of German Hip-Hop, Jews For Jesus Blues, Something Beautiful), when it doesn't dialogue with God (the catchy Fill Me With Your Light).

Despite its brevity, Eef Barzelay's solo acoustic debut, Bitter Honey (SpinArt, 2006), was better than anything the band ever did. Far from sounding monotonous, the album picks tasteful settings for each story, so that each song becomes more than just a song. The grace and depth of Ballad Of Bitter Honey, Thanksgiving Waves, I Wasn't Really Drunk, N.M.A. (Nothing Matters Anymore) and Let Us Be Naked explores a broad emotional and musical spectrum while employing minimal means. Even the minuscule Little Red Dot has some charm that is best kept at a minimum.

Clem Snide re-united in 2008 and returned a year later with Hungry Bird (429, 2009), originally recorded in 2006, and The Meat Of Life (2011).

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