Clem Snide

Your Favorite Music

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Rock critic Robert Christgau calls Clem Snide's music "true American deadpan," and group leader Eef Barzelay says he believes their obscure first album "did in fact seep into the collective unconscious and caused millions of people worldwide to feel a vague sense of resignation." Such comments notwithstanding, it would be a mistake to dismiss Your Favorite Music as some sort of put-on. Like the albums of, say, Jonathan Richman, this music has a homespun quality and a twisted worldview that can bring a smile. But there's serious and rather wonderful stuff going on here, too.

A lot of this is not quite like anything else out there, though if you need a reference point, think of the softer side of Velvet Underground -- or at least Pearls Before Swine -- with touches of the Fleetwoods and the Left Banke. On this latest release, Barzelay is a seductive vocalist, and cellist/violinist Jason Glasser shines throughout. The original compositions are almost uniformly terrific, moreover, though the album's greatest achievement may be its reverent cover of Ritchie Valens' "Donna." Clem Snide takes the song at an even slower pace than Valens did, adds moody strings, and turns it into a near-perfect four-minute meditation on lost love.

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