Clem Snide | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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CLEM SNIDE

Clem Snide front man Eef Barzelay wears his misery like a soft old bathrobe. "Your favorite music / Well, it just makes you sad / But you like it / 'Cause you feel special that way," he mumbles on the title track of his group's second album, Your Favorite Music (Sire)--which sat in the can for over a year, prompting the band to lobby their way out of their contract just months after it was released. In many ways he's a classic indie-rock sad sack, writing at length about his own insecurities and shortcomings, and his self-consciousness often comes across as disconcertingly prosaic. "Your beautiful African friend / Next to him I look so white," he complains in "African Friend." But his reflections are occasionally sharp (or at least clever, as in "And the joke is there's one beer left / So the punch line's all we have to drink," from "1989") and the quartet--Barzelay on guitar, Jason Glasser on cello, Jeff Marshall on upright bass, and Brad Reitz on drums--tackles the pretty melodies in an elegant style you might call chamber honky-tonk. In one of the songs on the group's 1997 debut album, You Were a Diamond (Tractor Beam), the narrator mentions listening to Nick Drake, but Barzelay's earnest singing is more reminiscent of the marble-mouthed twang of Dave Schramm, and Clem Snide are more alluring for their plainness than for any allusion to Drake's slippery grace. Saturday, November 18, 10:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

PETER MARGASAK

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