Music » Critics' Picks

Clem Snide

9 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue.

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The peculiar spell of Clem Snide's magical realism begins with the resonant imagery: an organ grinder's monkey's mocking dance, a toy rusting at the bottom of a pool and a bright fluorescent jet ski that rescues a stranded houseboat. On this year's Hungry Bird, Clem Snide's sixth album, frontman Eef Barzelay proves to be the Wes Anderson of American songwriting: bittersweetly comic, surreal and quotidian at once, sometimes too clever by half and always existentially bemused. But the way Barzelay sings those images, like an amateur chemist nervously intoning over an unpredictable experiment, and the catalyst of his arrangements — creamy bass lines, delicately placed electric guitar figures that suddenly surge with feedback, banjo and trombone played to maximize their tonal mysteries — make those strange and beautiful glimpses vibrate with life and a yearning that's more fully poetic than merely personal.

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