Release Date: Feb 24, 2009
Record label: 429
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Alternative, Country
Barzelay delivers hushed collection of song-poemsEef Barzelay has dusted off the Clem Snide moniker for the first time since 2005’s End of Love, an infinitely listenable emo-tinged power-pop record with hints of twang betraying the group’s alt-country roots. Barzelay had put Clem Snide on hiatus while he cut two solo albums, one in 2006 and one in 2008. During this period, a slow evolution began taking place, as he more fully embraced his sad-eyed Red House Painters side, making increasingly hushed, autumnal (yet still melodic) music.
Clem Snide, an almost twenty-year old project that can claim its roots in both New York and Nashville, was a pioneer in exploring the relationship between indie rock and country. The group has gone through a number of personnel shifts over the years, with the sole exception of songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Eef Barzelay. After the 2005 release, End of Love, Barzelay announced that the band was breaking up.Yet it appears that Clem Snide has reformed, and the band’s upcoming album, Hungry Bird, initially completed in 2006, is finally ready for release.
At the end of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road, there’s a short passage of lyrical beauty, seemingly at odds with the grinding fight for survival that occupied the rest of the book. In that short, cryptic paragraph, there’s, if not hope, at least something approaching optimism and a kind of cosmic clarity. It’s hard not to think of the book’s single moment of light and lyricism when listening to Clem Snide’s Hungry Bird, which doesn’t lack for unsettling imagery—and moments of quiet contemplation—of its own.
The long-awaited sixth album from Brooklyn's Clem Snide could be considered a breakup album, seeing as the band threw in the towel during its recording. Breakup albums are often the best kind - inspired, impassioned, cathartic. Instead, Hungry Bird is tired, unvaried and dull, possibly because the band's dissolved and reformed many times since 1991, with singer/songwriter/guitarist Eef Barzelay the only constant.
Always a vehicle for quirky singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay and a regularly changing group of talented instrumentalists, Clem Snide the band became less vital when Barzelay began releasing solo records in 2006. So after nearly 15 years, Clem Snide was ostensibly broken up, citing too many problems in the creation of this album. And yet 2009, at last, brings us Hungry Bird and Clem Snide on tour.