Posts Tagged ‘Thirty Tigers’

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Clem Snide was a character created by William S Burroughs and adopted by Eef Barzelay as the name of the band that he created in 1991. Burroughs’s writing was often informed by personal tragedy. These included a lifelong heroin addiction and a conviction for the manslaughter of his second wife, who died in a gun accident. Like his inspiration, Barzelay has suffered more than his fair share of misfortune. Beginning with the collapse of his band and subsequently his marriage, Barzelay then lost his house and was declared bankrupt. Now, five years on from the last Clem Snide record, Barzelay is back with quite possibly the best album that he’s ever made, and there have been some very good ones along the way.

Whilst at his lowest ebb, a fan sent Barzelay a video of the Avett Brothers peforming one of his songs and an interview with Scott Avett in which he states that he is a big fan of Clem Snide. From this Barzelay contacted Avett, with the result that he agreed to produce the new Clem Snide album. Avett actually ended up co-writing some of the songs and also plays and adds harmony vocals on it. He brought in Avett Brothers drummer Mike Marsh and Band of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds.  This quartet then put down the majority of the album at Avett’s North Carolina farm. The album was then concluded in Nashville with finishing touches from Old Crow Medicine Show fiddler Ketch Secor and Avett Brothers cellist Joe Kwon.

Scott Avett’s simple arrangements and minimal instrumentation allow Barzelay’s songs to live, breathe and flourish as their words are expressed by the compelling idiosyncrasies of his voice. This back-to-basics approach is the perfect platform for Barzelay. Shaped by his difficult experiences, the songs deal with issues of depression, identity, mortality, God and the afterlife. However, this is not an album of hopeless self-pity. The songs also raise the prospect of hope, discovery, reinvention and regeneration. The very personal nature of the songs underline that although it carries the Clem Snide name, to all intents and purposes this is an Eef Bazerlay solo record.

The album’s opening track ‘Roger Ebert’ serves as a prologue to the whole album. Based around the celebrated film critic’s last words “It’s all an elaborate hoax” Barzelay contemplates the nature and meaning of life, spirituality and God. Boy meets girl it isn’t. Subsequent songs investigate, contemplate and reflect upon similarly weighty themes. In ‘Don’t Bring No Ladder’ Barzelay recalls that “I thought to ask the voice inside my head/if it would still be there once I was dead” and in ‘The Stuff of Us’ he notes that “to be blessed is always to be cursed as well” Yet, despite all the darkness, at the end of ‘The Ballad of Eef Barzelay’ he concludes that “ As I kept falling/I came to realise/I finally realised/that there was no ground” thus raising the possibility of a turnaround and new beginnings.

The intensity is punctuated by three co-writes. ‘Sorry Charlie’ is a song about reaching middle age (Barzelay recently turned 50) in which he offers reflections on leaving the wildness of younger days behind “Sorry Charlie/We can’t party anymore” and the acceptance of responsibilities and a steadier existence “I’ve got a good job now”. The album concludes with‘Some Ghost’ another co-write which offers some hope “after we stumble/we’ll find a path”. We can only hope that the path that Eef Barzelay is now on is a straight and steady one. Plans to tour the album have, in the present circumstances, been shelved. For a man who has been in such a perilous financial state, this will come as a major blow. We could all help out by buying this album. I suggest that not as an act of charity, but because you will be getting one of the best albums you’re likely to hear this year.

“I think we always feel like we’re falling through life? Desperately grabbing at whatever little snappy branch we can but if there is no ground then there is no fear and then we’re flying or least floating… And in the end, a leap of faith is inevitable. Like the song says ‘to live is to fly’.

Also, it satisfies the rhyme of job and kebob and advocates for ‘the secret’. I named it after myself to be cheeky but it is an accurate expression of what I believe.” Eef Barzelay

Forever Just Beyond / Ramseur Records marketed and distributed by Thirty Tigers Released on: 2020-03-27


The Hold Steady Share New Single “Heavy Covenant”

Now eight albums into their career, the Hold Steady are well known for their elaborate storytelling and explosive, communal rock music. According to frontman Craig Finn, their eighth studio album should satisfy everyone’s expectations: “Open Door Policy” was very much approached as an album vs. a collection of individual songs,” he said in a press release, “and it feels like our most musically expansive record.” Produced by Josh Kaufman, the album was completed before the pandemic began, and Finn notes that it touches on themes including “power, wealth, mental health, technology, capitalism, consumerism, and survival.

“Open Door Policy” is our 8th studio album and will be released on February 19th, 2021 via our own label, Positive Jams, in association with Thirty Tigers.

We recorded “Open Door Policy” in two different sessions in the back half of 2019. Once again we teamed with producer Josh Kaufman and engineer Dan Goodwin, this time at the Clubhouse studio in upstate NY. Our intention was to create an album that worked as a grand piece, rather than a collection of songs. 2019 was an active year for The Hold Steady – our writing was consistent, and new songs were coming in pretty regularly. The recording process was creative, open and fun.

We were pretty much done with the record by the time we played a few of the new songs in London the first week of March 2020, as the unease of the pandemic was setting in. Not long after we got back from London, NYC shut down and we began to see our 2020 shows postponed. Over the next months, it became obvious that timing this album’s release to specific weekend celebrations wouldn’t be a possibility in the near future. But we were still excited to share it.

The songs on “Open Door Policy” are about power, wealth, & mental health. They’re about technology, occupation, consumerism, freedom, fandom and escape. And although the album was written and recorded in 2019, the themes of this record seem to be underscored and highlighted by this year of virus and quarantine.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding. We’re really glad that you’re here.

Stay Positive! The Hold Steady 


Releases February 19th, 2021

The Hold Steady: Bobby Drake, Craig Finn, Tad Kubler, Franz Nicolay, Galen Polivka, Steve Selvidge

Horns: Stuart Bogie & Jordan McLean
Background Vocals: Annie Nero & Cassandra Jenkins
Percussion: Matt Barrick

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Multi-Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams addresses a subject that affects millions with the release of her emotional new song, “Big Black Train”. The track appears on her highly anticipated new album Good Souls Better Angels, out April 24th via Highway 20/Thirty Tigers.

The song’s title works as a metaphor for depression, and Williams compassionately articulates some of the fears and feelings that engulf those who are affected by it.  Through lyrics such as, I can hear it comin’ from miles away, Last time through it took me far away, Didn’t know if I was ever comin’ back and the solemn plea, I don’t wanna get on board, Williams masterfully connects the emotional weight of the condition to the overwhelming power of the “Big Black Train”. “Good Souls Better Angels” finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter zeroing in on some of the human and socio-political issues of our day with bold, forthright commentary and an urgency like never before. Just listen to the unabashed “Man Without A Soul” or the empowering “You Can’t Rule Me” to get a sense of where Williams stands at this stage of her celebrated four-decade career. She remains as vital a musical force as ever.

Lucinda Williams’ new album Good Souls Better Angels comes out next month, and she’s shared another new single from it, the lovely, torchy “Big Black Train,” whose title she says is a metaphor for depression. Lucinda Williams will release her new LP Good Souls Better Angels on April 24th.

Highway 20 Records marketed and distributed by Thirty Tigers.