Clem Snide, Heligoats | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Clem Snide, Heligoats Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Thu., May 13, 9 p.m. 2010

After five albums of witty, quirky art-country, Clem Snide fell apart in the mid-aughts without releasing what was apparently going to be their final record. But last year front man Eef Barzelay, the band's one remaining original member, reconvened Brendan Fitzpatrick and Ben Martin from the most recent Clem Snide lineup to release and tour behind the lost LP, Hungry Bird. This winter the same lineup released The Meat of Life (429 Records) to mixed reviews; some folks complained that the band now sounds too laid-back, with too much violin, or that Barzelay's rapier wit has softened into gentle irony. But Clem Snide's percussion-optional strumming has always moved back and forth between sweetly soft and agitated, and Barzelay has never tried to sell himself as a cowpunk—even Evelyn Waugh eventually learned that you can tickle a fellow to death instead of stabbing him. To my ears the band's restraint makes the spurts of intensity more satisfying: on the lead track, "Walmart Parking Lot," the freshly dumped protagonist drives around all night feeling "punched in the heart, in the throat, in the kneecaps too," but when the sun rises over the ugly big box it's so beautiful that he bursts into a swift-swelling ahh-ahh chorus despite himself. The irony is aesthetic, and makes nothing of the potential sociopolitical significance of Walmart—which means it's just fine for a lost-love song. The Heligoats open.

Price: $14

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