If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a mystery. Did D.B. Cooper survive his jump from Northwest Orient Airlines’ Flight 305 into a 200-mph wind on the rainy, pitch-black night of November 24, 1971? Why does Wile. E. Coyote continue to use ACME products, when they’re obviously subpar and don’t meet even the most minimal consumer safety standards? Why, on Bewitched, did Darren insist that Samantha not use her powers? When any sane man would have said, “I’d like a million dollars in small unmarked bills, the guest room filled to my Adam’s apple with high-grade pharmaceutical cocaine, and a bigger dick. A much, much bigger dick.”
This is the reason Clem Snide’s Birthing Pains drove me so wild. It was released this year, but I wasn’t able to find out zilch about it. It’s not mentioned on Clem Snide’s web site or listed on Wikipedia, and good luck discovering a review of it online. You can buy the damn thing, but just try finding anything out about it. You’d have an easier time finding D.B. Cooper.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have cared if Birthing Pains sounded even remotely like the Clem Snide I know, which copped its name from a William Burroughs character and produces a highly intelligent and frequently melancholy hybrid of country, folk, pop, and restrained rock’n’roll. But it doesn’t. I listened to it once, twice, and a third time and was still convinced some type of mistake had been made, and that the music on Birthing Pains had been made by somebody else, this despite the fact that the words “Clem Snide” were right there on the album cover.
Because the cold hard fact is that amidst Clem Snide’s amazingly consistent body of work since 1998 (which includes at least 12 LPs and 4 EPs including 2002’s brilliant Moment in the Sun, 1999’s lovely Your Favorite Music, and 2011’s wonderful “Clem Snide Journey” EP, which consists solely of breathtakingly original covers of Journey songs), Birthing Pains sticks out like a Hell’s Angel at a Mormon wedding.