Friday, May 22, 2009

Music Library: The Clean, Clem Snide

The Clean - Modern Rock, Getaway, and Anthology. The granddaddies of kiwi-rock, the Clean produced amazingly great songs with a Feelies-esque tension between clean guitar lines and post-punk fuzz. A fan started New Zealand's mighty Flying Nun Records to put out Clean albums. Highly influential to Pavement, Superchunk, Yo La Tengo, and, well, everyone who made or listened to indie rock owes them a debt. Modern Rock and Getaway are later releases (1995 for the former, 2001 for the latter) from some of times that the Clean has gotten back together (and they are both great on their own, if a bit more mellow than the Clean in their prime), but Anthology, which collects much of the early Clean and skims through a lot of the later Clean, belongs in every indie rock fan's collection.

Clem Snide - You Were A Diamond, Your Favorite Music, The Ghost of Fashion, A Beautiful EP, Soft Spot, and End of Love. Clearly I need to pick up the Clem Snide album that came out earlier this year. Clem Snide is a vehicle for lead man Eef Barzelay's formidable songwriting chops. Like Randy Newman - a guy whose music sounds perfect for me on paper, but whom I can't seem to make myself like - Barzelay packs a lot of emotion under a thick layer of irony. Many of his best songs are funny on the surface, but resonate far beyond the humorous conceits. Actually, Barzelay drops a lot of the irony towards the end of Clem Snide's run. I think I read that he started having kids (and tracks like "Fontanelle" support that), which made him think about how to be more direct in his songwriting. The album that came out this year was supposed to be their last, but it's apparently been worked and reworked and abandoned and finally picked back up before being released.


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