Clem Snide: You Were a Diamond (SpinArt)

The band fields the best guitar/cello/stand-up base trio in rock history.

Clem Snide is a Brooklyn-based band that defies convention and label. The band’s debut album, You Were a Diamond, might be the best recording from 1997 you never heard. The album has been remastered in preparation for its rerelease. The updated version also features two new songs, a music video, and revamped cover art for the long-time fan.

On Diamond, the band fields the best guitar/cello/stand-up base trio in rock history. Bassist Jeff Marshall lays down the beat in absence of a full-time percussionist, while Jason Glasser uses the cello to create texture and atmosphere seldom found in indie pop. The key to this album, however, is singer/songwriter/ front man Eef Barzelay’s vocal delivery and wordplay. From their inception as a Boston-based punk band, the band has served as a stage for Barzelay the Wordsmith.

You Were a Diamond is Eef’s gift to mix-tape junkies and the slightly awkward among us. He gives his listener the view looking in from the outside. Songs like “Nick Drake Tape” and “Your Night to Shine” bask in the glory of defeat. Barzelay’s country-politan rasp brings punk’s defiance and folk’s loneliness together in the cover of Hank Williams’s “Lost on the River.” Perhaps the highlight of the rerelease, though, is the new cut, “Estranged Half Brother.” Barzelay quips, “Show me your sensitive side/Here is a dollar,” with tongue-in-tear-stained cheek.

Eef’s blend of sardonic humor and sense of heartfelt longing create a beautifully lucid album. File You Were a Diamond under indie rock for a rainy day.

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