The Ghost of Fashion
It must be something in the water. I popped in Clem Snide’s The Ghost of Fashion, and my first thought was “wow, this reminds me a lot of Camper Van Beethoven!” Then I check the info that came with, and find that it was partially produced at Camper/Cracker alum David Lowery’s studio in Richmond. Something rubbed off, for sure — and I think more bands should drink from those waters, because it•s an amazing tonic for Clem Snide. Far from mere clones, though, Clem Snide take a twangier and slightly mellow tack than the revered CVB, and while the record is easily as quirky as anything Camper ever did, it has its own special sheen, tinged with a slight air of melancholy. And while the two bands are equally arty in the lyrical department, singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay is arguably more pop culture obsessed, making his tunes all the more irresistible. I mean, how can you resist a song called “Joan Jett of Arc,” with lyrics like “My black heart was heavy/Your mom’s Cougar was fast/As ‘Little Pink Houses’ were whistled/And it was all you can eat at the Sizzler that night/My steak- burning Joan Jett of Arc.” Or “Long Lost Twin,” with its haunting refrain “Tonight I feel like Elvis longing for his long lost twin.” Or “Ancient Chinese Secret Blues,” on which Barzelay implores “Calgon, take me away.” And even when Barzelay’s not focused on some pop culture minutia, his lyrics are just as compelling and interesting (from “Ice Cube”: “I•m feelin’ like the ice cube in your mouth/Melting away/I don’t want to leave unless, of course/You ask me to stay/Does anybody ever get what they want?/What do you mean when you talk about love?“). Other highlights include the Sonic Youth-like atmosphere of “The Junky Jews,” the rich, textured “Moment in the Sun,” and the hauntingly stark “The Curse of Great Beauty.” This is a record you’ll want to listen to over and over, until you commit these tunes to your mental radio. In short, this one Ghost that will always stay in Fashion.