Monday, January 31, 2011

Blast from the Past: Violent Femmes

Title: Violent Femmes (Amazon, Wikipedia)
Artist: Violent Femmes (Official, MySpace, Facebook,, AllMusic, Wikipedia

The Violent Femmes will always be known for their classic debut self-titled album and the song “Blister in the Sun.” This isn’t a bad thing…heck I suspect that most bands would love to be in the position that the Femmes are in, having a record that is synonymous with their generation and a large cult following. I mean, who wouldn’t want that kind of success?

I first heard the Violent Femmes through this record sometime in late 1990 early 1991. At the time you were practically issued this tape with your first pair of Dr. Matrens when you became involved with “the scene.” In fact I distinctly remember one day driving in my car with some friends and we were trying to decide what to listen to. Someone in the backseat said “put in the Violent Femmes.” She just assumed that I had the tape because...well everyone had that tape (sadly at the time I didn’t).

The record itself is pure minimalist teen angst (before it was cool). The songs are catchy and dare you to keep them from getting stuck in your head. There is longing and passion in the lyrics that any teenage lonely misfit can identify with (see “Please Do Not Go”) right next to the fire of teenage rebellion (see “Kiss Off”). This is a record that helped an entire generation of misfits and freaks get through high school and the fact that the opening track (“Blister in the Sun”) has becoming a hit is a testament to the power of music (and excellent placement in a variety of movies and TV shows).

What I wonder though about Violent Femmes is if it is a record that touches those outside of Generation X. Is this something that only we get? If it is then that is a shame but kind of understandable. This is a record that captured an era and it may be that for those who didn’t experience that era things will get lost in translation. Next year, Violent Femmes will mark its 30 year anniversary. To me this record sounds as fresh and vibrant as it did when I was 15. I wonder if my kids will get it? Even if they don’t, we did and maybe that’s all that matters.

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