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The Violent Femmes (album)

The Violent Femmes released their debut, self-titled album in 1983. The album has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed cult albums, in spite of having never achieved massive fame, and went platinum about ten years after it was released.

Most of the songs on the album were written when the songwriter, Gordan Gano[?], was still in high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Violent Femmes peaked at #171 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart.

Of particular note are the first two songs, regarded by Femmes fans as two of the best songs on the album. "Blister in the Sun" is a clever song (about masturbation) with a chanted chorus that grows quieter and quieter until erupted in a climactic recitation at full volume. "Kiss Off" is, lyrically, most typical for the Violent Femmes. In it, the singer expresses the whole gamut of teenage emotions, from a desire for acceptance to a stubborn hatred for those who are accepted, conformity, playfulness, angst and rebellion. The legendary "counting" section is at the climax of the song, when the singer counts up the things that are wrong with his life, as in "1, 1, 1 cause you left me and/2, 2, 2 for my family and/3, 3, 3 for my heartaches" with the tension slowly mounting, then erupting with "8, 8 I forget what 8 was for," bring the Violent Femmes' characteristic humor into the song at its most tense and potentially melodramatic.

The Violent Femmes has been called folk punk[?]; it is a amalgamation of multiple influences. The first wave of punk music (bands like the Sex Pistols - Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols - 1977) had largely ended by 1983. Post punk music had split off into multiple, widely varying genres. The Violent Femmes incorporated influences from several of them, most notably the dark Gothic sounds of the Cure (Three Imaginary Boys - 1979) and Siouxsie & the Banshees (Kaleidoscope - 1980), as well as New Wave acts like Depeche Mode (Speak and Spell[?] - 1981) and art rock with a punk atmosphere like Devo (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo![?] - 1978) and Joy Division (Unknown Pleasures[?] - 1979); even the pop-punk of the Go-Gos (The Beauty and the Beat - 1981) influenced the album. In addition, proto punk[?] artists like Elvis Costello& the Attractions[?] (This Year's Model[?] - 1978), Adam & the Ants (Dirk Wears White Sox[?] - 1979), Talking Heads (More Songs About Buildings and Food - 1978) and Big Star (Radio City - 1974) can be heard in The Violent Femmes. Folk influences were also important in shaping the sound of the Violent Femmes. Late-era Bob Dylan (Desire - 1976), Van Morrison (Astral Weeks - 1968) and the hard rocking folk of Jefferson Airplane (Surrealistic Pillow - 1967) had a great influence on the development of the Violent Femmes.

As one of the premiere cult albums of all time, The Violent Femmes helped kickstart the college and alternative rock movements that began in the 1980s with bands like R.E.M. (Reckoning[?] - 1984), Hüsker Dü (New Day Rising[?] - 1985), the Pixies (Doolittle - 1989) and Sebadoh[?] (III[?] - 1991) and peaked with the mainstream success of Nirvana (Nevermind (1992) and other grunge bands in the early 1990s. Quirky songs like "Kiss Off" and "Blister in the Sun", with sing-along choruses and a fast-paced, tension-building beat, helped define what eventually became known as alternative rock. The distinctive, catchy and powerful riffs and choruses established the album as power pop, influencing later bands like Weezer (Weezer[?] - 1994) and They Might Be Giants (They Might Be Giants - 1986) which similarly used teenage, outcast angst to fuel quirky, pop-oriented songs and establish a devoted audience who sympathized with the outsider-point-of-view. Many view as being the root of what has become known as emo music[?], including bands like the Get Up Kids (Something to Write Home About - 1999), Fugazi (Repeater [ 1990) and Sunny Day Real Estate[?] (Diary - 1994). In addition, as the inventors (and, perhaps, the only practitioners of) folk punk[?], the Violent Femmes also influenced later folk musicians such as Tracy Chapman (Tracy Chapman[?] - 1988) and David Gray[?] (A Century Ends[?] - 1993).

Table of contents

Track Listing

All songs written by Gordan Gano[?].

  • Blister in the Sun
  • Kiss Off
  • Please Do Not Go
  • Add It Up
  • Confessions
  • Prove My Love
  • Promise
  • To the Kill
  • Gone Daddy Gone
  • Good Feeling
  • Ugly*
  • Gimme the Car*

(* CD bonus tracks, not on the original cassette version)


Chart positions

External links

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