Nightman Listens To – Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (Top 1000 Albums Series)!

Greetings, glancers and man have I been looking forward to this one! I’ve always felt that this band was one I should have heard a long time ago given their affiliation with punk, grunge etc. Plus, I’ve always loved the name. And yet I’ve never bothered my arse ever listening to them. Plus, I always thought they were an all female band when I was young, until I actually saw a picture of them. They also popped up on one of my favourite movie soundtracks ever – The Crow. It wasn’t the greatest song in the world, but hey. Let’s do this.

What Do I Know About The Band: An alt rock/punk band who have split and reformed several times.

What Do I Know About The Album: It’s their debut, it’s from the 80s. That’s about it. I’m going to guess it’s more punk/raw than later stuff?

Blister In The Sun‘ is one I know. It’s a pretty great riff but you can’t avoid how cheap it all sounds. I generally don’t care about such things and with punk it’s a given, but it’s worth mentioning. It’s a song which sounds like it could be from era – 60s up to today – it could just as easily be from a modern hipster band as a 60s folk artist. I think this used to get played quite a bit in the rock and metal bars I haunted. Good bass, great drums, decent vocals, catchy as hell if a little repetitive. The riff is borrowed by Radiohead in Maquiladora.

Kiss Off‘ is very folk-driven. I admit I was expecting a lot more distortion than the style we’ve had so far. I love the bedroom production tone and feel – it reminds me of stuff I would record, not musically, and gives me hope for future artists. Although given this was released when I was a baby I suppose it shouldn’t count. It just has that youthful, no fucks given approach, while very clearly giving a fuck. Plus it’s just as good a song as the first, if not better.

Please Do Not Go‘ opens like Big Yellow Taxi. Then a fat bass riff dives between the military beat. There’s no way I’ve heard this before, and yet it fills me with nostalgia for some time and place I can’t put my finger. Not as good as the first two songs, a little more loose and rambling, the vocals and lyrics particularly, but still good.

Add It Up‘ starts vocals only. Like an old-timer on his rocking chair in the Wild West. Then it goes garage rock with Beach Boys bass. Boy’s got a dose of the horn (needs some luvin’). It’s catchy again and definitely the sort of thing I would have enjoyed in my teens. A nicely chaotic finish.

Confessions‘ feels a little different. A slow, spirited, more electric intro. More laid back lyrics. Of course once the lonely lyrics hit the tone changes. Bass follows the guitar riff, drums blast throw in waves. It sometimes lashes out then withdraws. They go all in with the noise at various points, then elsewhere it’s a whisper. Pretty cool stuff.

Prove My Love‘ opens like The Cure… or maybe like Toni Basil’s Hey Micky. That all gives it a humourous air on top of the general levity on display. It’s another good song.

Promises‘ adds a further touch of electricity which makes things feel just that little bit heavier. The vocals here are a little too talky for my liking. I like rap vocals, I like ‘traditional’ vocals, I’m not a huge fan of the in between style. There’s more Hey Micky drumming in the middle, just after a more melodic vocal. Great bass once again.

To The Kill‘ starts in twiddling made up on the spot fashion. The twang and the tone reminds me of Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol… and various others from In Utero. Some good moments, a little too loose and a little too much of the talky style again, but I could see myself liking more with further listens.

Gone Daddy Gone‘ is different again, thanks to the… is that a xylophone? The style and beat and rhythm is pretty similar to the rest. It very much retains the bedroom production quality and I can just imagine someone walking in to the room drunk one day with a xylophone under their arm, laughing, and saying ‘what about this’. We even get a full blown xylophone solo so it’s not like it’s just their for the bants. It’s good again.

Good Feeling‘ closes the album. It’s slower, sweeter, a goodnight kiss. It’s all very lovely, and you know how I feel about well places strings. A great ending and one which isn’t really in line with the rest of the album, yet still fits.

What Did I Learn: It’s one of those albums which is so highly regarded, yet I know for a fact I could (and have) made music just as good as this. That gives me a strange dualism – hope that this sort of music will live on in the face of all the shite which hits the charts, yet disappointment that I never had the real impetus/bravery/skill/luck/person to push me to get my own stuff out there. I’m not saying this to make me look like some sort of untapped talent, it’s simply a fact – I liked this album and I have demos of songs which I think others would like. I had no real interest in being a star, I just wanted to make stuff that I liked and knowing that my musical tastes aligned with plenty of other people then it seemed likely that plenty of others would like some of it too. Don’t worry, once I get my new DAW set up on my new laptop and some more pieces of equipment, I’ll record my stuff and then y’all can rip it to shreds. Spoiler Alert – I can’t sing for shit. Well, I can, but my voice is not something I would choice to have or hear, so there is that.

It’s not the distorted noise I usually look for in punk and goes for a much cleaner sound. It’s still angry, but not so much focused on politics or the bigger picture as much as daily teen life.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums: I can taste its influence in a lot of other bands and artists – some of which I love and others which I don’t. Outside of that, many of the songs are great and deserving of whatever praise has already been heaped upon them. In that respect I wouldn’t have any argument against this being included.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Kiss Off. Blister In The Sun. Confessions. Prove My Love. Good Feeling.

Tell it like it is!

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