September 23, 2011

Eef Barzelay (Clem Snide) can cover for me any old time

I’ve said before that I honestly think Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide is one of the most piercing, insightful, weirdly-perfect songwriters making music right now. I saw him live a few years ago in support of his 2009 release Hungry Bird, and his literacy and ability to emotionally incise caught me in an ambush. I commented that it was like an SAT study party, and we could invite John Darnielle and Colin Meloy and I would die happy. Around that time, this was one of my most-listened to songs, with its bluesy melody that somehow manages to feel effervescent through the weight. When Eef repeated the line over and over again – “We are just bracing for the impact by loosening our limbs…” something in my chest still tightens. “Every single one of us has a kitten up a tree.”

Born A Man – Clem Snide

Eef also has this superhuman knack for covering songs in the best possible way, where you stop and hear something in a way you never did before. It’s like when you are washing dishes at the kitchen sink and pause to look up out the window because you hear a thunder crash with the approaching storm, and suddenly your whole yard is bathed in this eerie greenish light. It’s still your yard, the one you’ve sat in a hundred times, but all of a sudden it is foreign and strangely beautiful.

After releasing a startlingly seriously-pretty EP of Journey covers in June, this week Eef released a new cover songs album of selections suggested by fans. The most surprising has got to be his take on Nine Inch Nails’ “The Becoming,” and the purest the rendition of “In the Aeroplane Over The Sea.” Take a listen:

And this remains my all-time favorite cover I think he could ever do – instead of Nico’s halting German alienation, we get a warm hymn, laced with that gorgeous, sad, knowing cello:

I’ll Be Your Mirror (Velvet Underground) – Clem Snide

SHOW ALERT: Eef plays this weekend in Armstrong Hall on the Colorado College campus, opening for Minnesota slowcore pioneers Low (Sunday night, 7pm). It is interesting to note that Armstrong Hall is so very close to Shove Chapel, home of the chapel sessions.

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  • That ‘In The Aeroplane Over the Sea’ cover is just so. damn. good. Breathes new life into it and makes me appreciate a song I’ve loved for a good long while anew again. Thanks as always for the perfect suggestion at the perfect time.

    Adam — September 23, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  • Wow, I am kinda digging that madaonna cover. I feel weird.

    Mark — September 23, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  • Wow. Some of these are really nice. Thanks for sharing.

    Adrian — September 23, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  • that lionel richie cover is also great, better than the original probably. The nin cover is great but I already liked nin, so maybe it will get some attention for him.

    Mark — September 23, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  • Thanks for pointing me to all of this new Eef Barzelay / Clem Snide stuff. I’ve clearly been out of the loop, so I just went and bought all of the bandcamp stuff of his I could find.

    But where is that Velvet Underground cover from? Just from his MySpace? Downloadable / purchasable anywhere?

    Lastly, any idea where else he’ll be playing beyond Boulder? Hoping he comes back to Seattle soon, it’s been a while and I could use a fix.

    Royal — September 23, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

  • Secondly, as it appears you’re hinting at a chapel session with Eef this weekend — I’m severely jealous. Have fun!

    Royal — September 24, 2011 @ 12:00 am

  • Thanks for spreading the word, Heather. Excellent and original covers! I’m always a sucker of a new cover of These Days, but I especially also like Aeroplane and Your Mirror.

    Bob — September 24, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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