“A peacock died to cover my lips, so I dyed my hair in all its sweat. But now I’m haunted by these visions of me.”
Eef Barzelay And Clem Snide are criminally underrated. Who rates him, you ask? Well, I’m not sure, but I saw him play a solo gig in 2006 at the Mercury Lounge and there were literally less than 100 people there. On one level, I love being able to move freely, get a brew, get to the commode, break dance, whatever. But on another, it struck me as ridiculous that more people don’t come out to hear this guy’s songs. I would hope that Senor Barzelay could make a decent living doing what he does, because he does it pretty damn well.
Clem Snide was a very good live band that put out two great albums (“Your Favorite Music” and “The Ghost of Fashion”) and few other very good (“The End Of Love”) to good ones (“Soft Spot”), all of them filled with songs that I could have included on this list. Songs about Ryan Adams not being as “weird as you’d like me to think”, about having a kid (“never have I been made to feel less doubtful, never have I been made less cynical”) and songs about…explosions.
“And I don’t want to live forever, when the sky is full of little holes exploding as they take my picture. Let’s explode!”
I chose “Let’s Explode”, because it always seemed to define these guys to me, both on their albums and at their shows. I saw them once at one of those free South Street Seaport shows and when it became obvious that the rain was going to cut the show off after a few songs, he opened with this and blew it out, singing, “I don’t want to know me better”, over and over until we got to Jeremy’s Ale Haus.
These guys have a great ear for a catchy tune, but their real allure is Eef’s lyrics and his quirky, crackling vocal delivery. I saw shows that were really too slow to get you going, but he always kept you engaged with his songs. One example is “Made For TV Movie”, a sad song about Lucille Ball and how, in life, the chocolates always seem to move too fast. My favorite example -- the one that reminds me of the dawn as seen from the roof of my old, big yellow house in Queens -- is “Joan Jett of Arc”, which documents the first time a teenage boy got to know his lady friend. The lyrics are fantastic, but the production, the overall feel of the song, so perfectly captures the summer night, the innocence ending, the fact that the cicadas and crickets had gone silent.