Album #515 – Violent Femmes

Album #515

The Violent Femmes are a unique band within the synth pop/new wave revolution. The group, originally from Milwaukee, are known for their stripped-down, folk punk sound. In 2014, their style wouldn’t be out of place but, back in 1983, they were ahead of their time. It would not be until four years later that folk and roots rock would make a dent in the alternative scene. In fact, fellow Milwaukee band BoDeans, probably would not have had the exposure they needed were it not for the Violent Femmes. The band owe their career to the Pretenders and their original guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, who found them busking on a street corner in Milwaukee and, in turn convinced Chrissie Hynde to make Violent Femmes part of their show that night. The sounds on this album are revolutionary. Most of it sounds like it was recorded live in the studio, in one take. There are no drum machines, keyboards or computer systems used on the album. Instead, it’s a back to basics approach. But, the other distinguishing feature of the Violent Femmes is lead singer Gordon Gano. His voice is unique: nasally and passionate. He can be angry, sad and happy. All those emotions are all captured on their amazing debut. While never a hit on the pop charts, Violent Femmes quickly catapulted to fame on college and alternative rock radio. Blister In The Sun became their biggest song and became quickly associated with that period. It has ended up in several hit films, movie trailers and even a commercial or two. The strongest songs showcase Gano’s sexual frustration. Add It Up and Kiss Off are akin to the Bodice Rippers I read in University. Bitter anger over a lack of sexual relations. Gano does this brilliantly and some of the songs are funny because of how angry and descriptive he gets. Other than that side of the album, The Violent Femmes deserve recognition for creating raw music within the confines of their times. A great album from start to finish and easily one of my favorites from the decade. Other highlights include: Please Do Not Go, Prove My Love, Promise, Gone Daddy Gone, Good Feeling, Ugly and Gimme The Car. Overall, I give Violent Femmes, 5 out of 5.

Next: Duck Rock by Malcolm McLaren

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