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Clem Snide | Your Favorite Music (Cooking Vinyl)
Previously residing in the category 'overpriced import' section of Tower Records, Clem Snide's major label sophomore effort (on Sire in America) has sat out of reach for some time, despite a cover that says 'you'll find me in the cut-out bins back home in the US.' And, on paper, £18 isn't so much to pay for a record as fine as Your Favorite Music... Thankfully those kind folk at Cooking Vinyl have taken the band (for it is a band, not a 'he' although the band is named after a 'he' - a character from Burrough's Naked Lunch) under their wing and given a 2001 release to what would have been a contender for that Top Ten of 2000. The debut album, 1997's You Were A Diamond, lived up to its title, a real find full of sparkling low-key gems, the cello of Jason Glasser adding a telling edge to Eef Barzelay's tales of Fruit Salad Stains, a Nick Drake Tape and other idiosyncratic observations. YFM continues the band's alliance with producer Martin Brumbach and the increased production values are not to the detriment of the intimate material, Barzelay accompanied by his solo acoustic guitar on Bread ("let the tablecloth burn, it's pretty that way / cause you smell like bread, now the pillow does too / Has everyone left? Were they even here?"), a typically subdued Clem Snide moment. Whilst the single I Love The Unknown seems forced - and smells of major label interference - the band are very much in control with a harmonious sense of ease and empathy shining through, the addition of subtle keyboards not at odds with the primarily acoustic interplay. After the relative bluster of Messiah Complex Blues ("I wouldn't die for your sins"), the lilting cover of Richie Valens' Donna makes for a surprisingly affecting closer, Barzelay's performance particularly moving on this lyrically direct song, his voice trailing off into a air of resignation.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001