Artist: "Violent Femmes"
Album: "Violent Femmes"
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Slash Records

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 4/29/2009

Review: When I first heard this album, I was completely blown away by the directness and honesty of Gordon Gano's lyrics. He was singing about feelings that nearly everybody's had at one time or another, but that nobody seems comfortable really talking about. And here he was, singing (albeit badly) about his self-esteem problems, his troubles with girls, his shyness, loneliness--all letting me know that I wasn't alone in the world.

When I was in high school this music was a lifeline. And while I may have outgrown some of the problems that plagued me in my teenage years, I'll never forget them or how they felt, so the album still maintains a certain charm that'll never wear off because of that. On top of that, it's a collection of twelve (counting bonus tracks) insanely catchy, extremely frank songs that are incredibly infectious and fun--except for those bits where they're depressing you, of course.

When Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and Victor DeLorenzo were discovered playing outside of a Pretenders' concert in the early 1980s, it was probably one of the most fortuitous musical discoveries, well...ever. These three guys play with such earnestness and urgency that they come across as one of the most genuine bands I've ever heard play. There's no bullshit here at all. Going along with that theme, the production here is bare minimal--just three guys and their basic instruments, and you just know that seeing them live would sound exactly the same (actually it's even better), because there are no "tricks" here. These guys are just damned good entertainers--particularly Brian Ritchie the way he fucking owns that bass.

Of course, some people I know can't get past Gano's voice. He is, admittedly, not the best singer. But I would rather listen to his off-key whine any day of the week over whatever polished, freshly-minted American Idol shitheel is hot off the presses. Because I know that Gano's music is truly from the heart--not some corporate song catalog. And I'd rather hear the songwriter sing it with real passion than pass it off to some more qualified "singer" who doesn't really feel anything when he sings it.

Standout tracks include their most famous song "Blister in the Sun" (not their best work by any means, but sadly all most people know), the drugs and masturbation anthem which was ironically and hilariously used in a Wendy's commercial. "Kiss Off" with it's well known "counting" segment. The simplistic "oldies" feel of "Prove My Love" and xylophone-driven "Gone Daddy Gone". The melancholy "Good Feeling", in which Gano somehow makes happiness seem sad. And of course, the epic "Add It Up", my favorite Femmes song, which perfectly encapsulates sexual frustration.

Their often overlooked second album is actually just as good as their first (listen to "Country Death Song" if you don't believe me), but I decided to review this one because this is where the magic all began. If you haven't pulled out your Femmes albums in a while, take this opportunity to blow the dust off and kick yourself for letting them fall by the wayside. If you've never heard the Violent Femmes, you have no idea what you're missing, and I almost envy you for having them yet to discover. Almost. And if you're a teenager struggling through those awkward, hellish years--shit, what are you waiting for? This stuff is required listening.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

The Magnificent Bastard
Apr 30th, 2009, 02:45 AM
Considering that all the "teen angst" I suppressed during my actual teen years is catching up to me in my 20s, I just might check this one out.

Though, I normally prefer more upbeat music.
Arts & Farts
Apr 30th, 2009, 06:35 AM
Add It Up is perhaps my favourite post-punk song of all time.
Apr 30th, 2009, 02:39 PM
Originally Posted by Tetsu Deinonychus View Post
Considering that all the "teen angst" I suppressed during my actual teen years is catching up to me in my 20s, I just might check this one out.

Though, I normally prefer more upbeat music.
This is very different from what you think it might be.
LOVES the tubal ligation!
Apr 30th, 2009, 02:52 PM
You cant fuck with the Violent Femmes! You can not fuck with this band!
LOVES the tubal ligation!
Apr 30th, 2009, 03:31 PM

Permanent Record is a great one to pick up if you dont own any already.
Apr 30th, 2009, 07:20 PM
The violent femmes, they bring all their equipment on the bus. and you canít fuck with the violent femmes. you can not fuck with this band.

I actually only own the greatest hits(not the permanent one, it's got a fiesta looking cover), I really wish I owned some real albums.
Apr 30th, 2009, 07:21 PM
sorry dimnos guess i should've read your first comment before posting
The Goddamned Batman
Apr 30th, 2009, 10:10 PM
You can't go wrong with their first three albums. Their catalog gets a bit spotty after that, but Why Do Birds Sing? and Rock!!! are both good. I don't think they have any bad work, but if you listen to their last album and compare it to their first, there's just NO fucking contest. It's like listening to two different bands.
Forum Virgin
May 1st, 2009, 04:47 AM
This was an anthem to my teenage years and I'm shocked that more people don't know more about this band outside of "Reality Bites". "Hallowed Ground" deserves mention of one of the darkest albums of the 80's, but off of the b-sides of the album you review "Gimmie the Car" is one of the best anthems of teen angst ever.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
May 1st, 2009, 08:49 AM
love this damn band
As u wish...
May 2nd, 2009, 01:34 AM
i know this shows MY age, but, DAMN! this was the soundtrack to my 9th grade summer!! swimming, under age drinking...it truelly got no better!
May 2nd, 2009, 02:53 AM
An album full of Proust moments for me - probably a whole generation.
Forum Virgin
May 2nd, 2009, 03:40 AM
I've got a vinyl copy of Hallowed Ground that is pretty dear to me. They're a band that a lot of people put off as a one-hit wonder because of Blister, but there's a ton of depth to their whole discography.
Forum Virgin
May 2nd, 2009, 08:08 AM
daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
May 2nd, 2009, 10:07 AM
A good friend of mine is used to tell me from time to time that he doesn't understand how can I survive listening to the very same music again and again. True, I do look for something new ocassionally, but I am not the kind of guy whose hunger for music is such that I have to listen to a new album every week or so. You might as well envy me, Proto, because I don't know this band either and their music might as well tell shining examples about plenty of the shit that happened during those lameass years. As I said in another post, I turn 23 today. Seeing this entry of yours makes me think about my teenage years and when they started exactly ten years ago. I strongly believe that depressing during those years makes absolutely no sense at all since the twenties has a lor more shit to offer for you to eat with a pristine silver spoon, but I can't deny that I was a teenager too and that this album might as well offer me material that is worth enough to make me laugh a bit about several crazy things.
Forum Virgin
May 2nd, 2009, 03:58 PM
Gotta Love their tribute to Jeffery Dahmer in "Dahmers Dead"........A Broomstick bashed bashed him upside of the head, now thats some lyrical genius. Femmes For Life.
Forum Virgin
May 2nd, 2009, 10:05 PM
Grrr...I hate this band. That fucking song "Blister in the Sun" gets stuck in my head & I can never rid of it.
Space Cowboy
May 4th, 2009, 06:10 PM
I love this album. It was one of the very first albums I ever bought, after I showed my mom p2p music downloading and she had downloaded a bunch of the Femmes' songs and in turn shared them with me.
Retardedly Handsome
May 5th, 2009, 11:54 AM
I saw them play about 12 years ago at the local univesity. Amazing to see them rock live. I don't know if they are still playing anymore but I would check them out anytime.
Forum Virgin
May 10th, 2009, 12:07 PM
I already knew a few of their songs, but this made me want to discover them more. Right now, I'm listening to Gimme the car and it reminds me of L.A. Woman era The Doors. Considering I love L.A Woman, that's a great start.