Talented alt-country outfit Clem Snide layers country, folk and pop elements on Hungry Bird, recorded in 2006, but not released until now due to difficulties, including the band’s breakup. The wait was worth it for fans of Eef Barzelay’s intimate lyrics, melancholy music, folksy wit and vocal twang.

While the likeminded the Avett Brothers and Bon Iver have garnered more attention, Clem Snide has been tilling the same soil for longer. Hungry Bird fluctuates between artful folk (surreal commitment account “Beard of Bees”) and dusky elegies (brackish “The Endless Ending”).

The group opens with pop-tilted “Me No,” which links indie rock traces, a yearning melody and suggestively dark verses. Horns, subtle distortion and kazoo are sown through the arrangements, which freely combine urban and rural inclinations.

Unforgettable “Encounter at 3 A.M.” even contains a rare spoken word performance from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright. Like Wright’s poems, Clem Snide’s songs have a specialized cryptic context that, once discovered, becomes emphatically irresistible.

Grade: B



Hungry Bird is currently available.