100 for 2000 – #1. Clem Snide – Your Favorite Music

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2000 – 1. Clem Snide – Your Favorite Music
(Elektra)

Now, I’m pretty sure this record came out in 2000. Wikipedia disagrees with me, but it’s likely it was only in the US that the record came out in 1999. A typical story at the time, where a major label signed a hot indie act, and then didn’t do very much with their record. The band is Clem Snide. The record was their second album proper – Your Favorite Music.

In 2000, I had many albums I didn’t know I had. Between getting the odd freebie from my first steps into the music industry, and a passion for bargain bins and record fairs, I would regularly come home with dozens of CDs a day. I can’t remember where I bought this album, but I remember why I bought it. I thought the cover was funny.

The reason this record sticks out as the first one I want to write about is because it’s not very funny, or fun at all. Many, many nights I laid on the couch in the dark of my studio apartment, smoking my eyeballs out alone with this album (and one other, which I will write about when I get to 2002). Yet, it wasn’t wallowing in that early 20s depression. It was actually helping.

The sound of Clem Snide is unique for an indie band. At least they were on this record. Violins and cellos mix in with a gently plucked guitar. Only the slightest hint of brushes on drums on a few tracks. It was soothing stuff. And lyrically, frontman Eef Barzelay mixed beautiful abstract stuff and moments of thoughtful sadness together in a witty way – if you didn’t laugh you’d cry.

So what I’m saying is – this was my emo.

The title track is a good place to start. Sure, the song is called Your Favorite Music. But the full lyric is;

Your favourite music
It just makes you sad
But you like it
Because you feel like no one else.

There is something very suburban about the record. From album cover in the prom outfits, it seems like its just a hopeless but beautiful struggle. The lovely opener The Dairy Queen glides through a series of such images – sporting good stores, underpasses, young girls drinking ginger ale. And the hopeless protagonist of I Love The Unknown, who’s only escape is to to alight buses at stops he doesn’t know.

The album stays moody and polite throughout, before ending with a heartbreaking version of Ritchie Valens’ Donna (tying up the prom theme quite nicely). As someone who had just finished school and had joined the work force, and had pretty much signed up to work until I died…its an important record.

Your Favorite Music was very much a time and a place. It’s also one of those special records that give me a feeling that no other record does. A bittersweetness. A coping with growing old too young. Of simple, small town things.

I don’t really listen to Clem Snide much anymore. They ended up having a big break with their next album, the single Moment In the Sun used as the theme song to the show Ed. It’s only now, writing about them, that I have bothered to buy their new album online, their first in 4 years.

Unlike other bands I will write about, they lasted one album for me in the decade. I moved on quickly after this from the sad sack stuff.

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