Eef Barzelay/Lion V. Fish; August 7, 2008; Café Montmartre
I’m not sure what exactly happened to Clem Snide, all I know is that the songs that were released this year on frontman Eef Barzelay’s second solo record Lose Big were all recorded once already by the band. I had a chance to hear that unreleased record, and after what would seem to be in retrospect the career-defining End of Love it was a bit of a letdown. They were shopping it to labels but it would seem no one took it. As much as I love Clem Snide as a band, especially banjo/euphonium player Pete Fitzpatrick, I couldn’t be happier.
Because the Eef solo version of this record is much better. I haven’t sat down and compared it track by track, so I can’t say exactly why it is better, it just is. Songs like the standout leadoff “Things Could Be Worse” and “The Girls Don’t Care” that were good on first listen have turned out even better on this record. He showed up with “his band” to play an intimate show at the Café Montmartre. It was almost as if Clem Snide never happened, the majority of the songs in the set came from his recent record, with only “The Ballad of Bitter Honey” making the cut from his first solo record Bitter Honey. The latter is a hilarious narrative from the point of view of a hip hop dancer whose ass was on onscreen with Nelly for only a few seconds. A failed nursing school student, she claims “but all those broken bodies, well, they really got to me.”
When he said he was going to play a “really old song,” I expected something from one of the first couple band records, perhaps “I Love the Unknown” from Your Favorite Music which he reprises on the new record. Instead, it was “Something Beautiful,” easily my favorite track from End of Love. The list of things that “you make me wanna” do contains those as ridiculous as “fold the map improperly” or “not turn on the windshield wipers when rain begins to fall” and ends with “break something beautiful.” As slinky and as sensual as the Snide boys have ever been, the track fairly oozes with sex appeal. Other times it was hard to tell exactly what it was he was talking about, when he declared himself “an indie rock Power Ranger,” I just smiled and shook my head.
Openers Lion V. Fish were slightly less amusing. I enjoyed their violin-banjo ramblings for about five songs, but after that it just became headache inducing. While violinist Brook Jackson is petite and adorably perky, lead singer Eric Bescak has a slightly nasal voice which was fine for a handful of songs, but then started to annoy me. Though it probably has something to do with my short attention span. Eventually, his song introductions became more entertaining than the actual songs. It isn’t hard to imagine Marilyn Manson describing himself as a “pretty bird” when discussing the breakup of his marriage, it is slightly harder to imagine writing a song about it.