Violent Femmes

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

About Violent Femmes

Violent Femmes didn’t seem like a sure bet for underground longevity when the trio formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1981. Between Gordon Gano’s anxious vocal quiver and the junkyard rattle of folk-punk instrumentation, the band’s self-titled 1983 debut came across as more of an acquired taste. But acquired it was, becoming a sleeper hit across several generations in America and abroad. It helped that Gano’s lyrics so potently bottled the lusty desperation of youth on “Blister in the Sun” and “Add it Up,” while the uncrowded sound meant that you can hear the individual strings on Brian Ritchie’s upright bass during “Kiss Off.” By 1991 the album had sold a million copies, and by then Violent Femmes had incorporated lusher strokes of keyboards, strings, and horns on records like 1986’s The Blind Leading the Naked. Despite Gano’s voice softening right in step with that growing instrumental palette, the band’s spontaneous verve has translated well to the new millennium, earning some unlikely co-signs from Gnarls Barkley and The National along the way.

Milwaukee, WI, United States
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