I first heard Clem Snide by way of 2001’s brilliant The Ghost of Fashion. I was immediately taken with lead singer Eef Barzelay’s deadpan vocal delivery and bitingly caustic lyrics. Though based in folk, the music was punctuated with strings and horns, giving the whole thing a feeling of ragged grandiosity that particularly appealed to me. It was one of my favorites that year, shortly before I had the notion to keep track of such things and publish them online.
Upon exploring Clem Snide’s back catalog soon thereafter, I discovered Your Favorite Music, their low key sophomore album from 2000. Though a more sedate listen overall than its follow up, YFM immediate became another favorite of mine. The imagistic stories behind quiet ballads like “The Dairy Queen” and “African Friend” give the album a sense of weird mystery, while sadness practically pours out of “Loneliness Finds Her Own Way” and the title track like open wounds. The band breaks from the forlorn mood on a handful of tunes – especially the rowdy concert-favorites “I Love the Unknown” and “Messiah Complex Blues” – but the heart of Clem Snide’s sophomore album lies in the balance Barzelay finds between his irreverence, his wiseass sarcasm (kept in check for the most part), and the devastating honesty that surfaces more successfully here than on any other Clem Snide release. Well, there’s also Jason Glasser’s subtly gorgeous work on the cello and violin, which might be the understated backbone of this record, similar to the way the more prominent horns of The Ghost of Fashion carry that one.
Your Favorite Music is worth going back to and rediscovering, or just hearing fresh for the first time if you haven’t already. As Barzelay himself sings on “Sweet Mother Russia”, it’s “Like fight songs whispered through pillows”. Lucky for you it has just been reissued by Microfiche Records, a new label dedicated to finding worthy albums that have never been released on vinyl and putting them out there. This is certainly one of those records.
Buy Your Favorite Music on vinyl right here.