More than two decades later, Your Favorite Music undergoes another rebirth, with the welcome addition of four acoustic latter-day Eef Barzelay performances from his crowdfunded covers project. A trio of Velvet Underground songs are transformed into folk ballads. Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” once covered by Velvets vocalist and Browne paramour Nico, was part of the VU universe too. “My voice and Lou Reed’s voice seem to fit together nicely,” says Barzelay, who makes all four tunes feel like they’re of a piece. “It feels great,” says Barzelay of the expanded reissue treatment, “I’m deeply grateful. If more people that didn’t know Clem Snide find their way into it, I think that’d be the best thing for sure.”
Rock critic Robert Christgau calls Clem Snide’s music “true American deadpan,” and group leader Eef Barzelay says he believes their obscure first album “did in fact seep into the collective unconscious and caused millions of people worldwide to feel a vague sense of resignation.” Such comments notwithstanding, it would be a mistake to dismiss Your Favorite Music as some sort of put-on. Like the albums of, say, Jonathan Richman, this music has a homespun quality and a twisted worldview that can bring a smile. But there’s serious and rather wonderful stuff going on here, too.
A lot of this is not quite like anything else out there, though if you need a reference point, think of the softer side of Velvet Underground — or at least Pearls Before Swine — with touches of the Fleetwoods and the Left Banke. On this latest release, Barzelay is a seductive vocalist, and cellist/violinist Jason Glasser shines throughout. The original compositions are almost uniformly terrific, moreover, though the album’s greatest achievement may be its reverent cover of Ritchie Valens’ “Donna.” Clem Snide takes the song at an even slower pace than Valens did, adds moody strings, and turns it into a near-perfect four-minute meditation on lost love