Album opener "Me No" appeared as a bonus track on last year's excellent Lose Big, the second solo album from Snide frontman Eef Barzelay. Call it a tease - or maybe just bait. The story goes that Hungry Bird, Clem Snide's sixth studio album, destroyed the band that made it. Barzelay, who has had off-and-on trouble keeping members around, stuck his own hungry bird head so far into the ground while writing and recording the album that many of the dynamics in his band shifted during the process. Eventually Barzelay was left alone to finish the album, which - once finished - sat on the shelf, no label to release it and no band members left to tour in support of it.
While out on the road in support of last year's Lose Big, Barzelay was often asked about the "lost Clem Snide album" by both fans and interviewers. Always the generous artist type, Barzelay had no problem talking about the album and dissolution of his band. He took the blame for things falling apart and, more notably, said that the "unreleased record" was his best work yet. He also said that he didn't know when it would be released, but that he hoped it'd come out in 2010 - maybe even as an Eef Barzelay record. Then, almost out of nowhere (and one would have to think as a direct result of the critical and fan attention Lost Big earned), a release date showed up for some band called Clem Snide. Some apparently reunited band who only a few years ago, circa 2000-01, were the critical darlings of the Americana world.
And Hungry Bird, recorded almost three years ago now, does not disappoint. Despite some of the crazy descriptions Barzelay has offered the press, the record is just another fine, funny and sweet Clem Snide collection. It sounds like Clem Snide and it looks and feels like Clem Snide. Kind of slow and soft. Often jazzy, sometimes twangy. Sunday morning music made perfect for smartass listeners with wide open heartstrings. And the lyrics ... ooooh the lyrics (insert shiver here). There's much more to tell about the great tunes offered, but if you're a fan, you know what to do: get out to the record store and buy this gem on the ASAP. Buy a second copy for that friend you fell out of touch with and buy a third copy for that bookishly cute girl (or boy) with the retro specs and rented copy of Harold and Maude under their arm. Or, if you're not yet familiar with this band called Clem, then hey, here's your chance to discover one of the very best bands of the decade - get out and buy both The Ghost of Fashion and Hungry Bird today. Everything else, like a well placed lyric or a delicate folk song with jazz sensibilities, will fall in line, both bitter and sweet - just like life. Just like a Clem Snide album.