The road has been a long one for Milwaukee’s [a]Violent Femmes[/a]. Eighteen years is a lot of gigs and a lot of motel rooms. Always very much a cultish live band – and one who can play their instruments properly – it was inevitable that sooner or later a live album would appear. And an acoustic one at that.
But even without the assistance of electricity, these punk-folk shitkickers somehow manage to wring the necks of their songs, dragging them into the woods to be buried in a shallow grave. Despite their age, though, the nastiness of their records lives on. Gordon Gano‘s murderous, illegitimate-teenager vocals are apparent on the stiff-sheeted adolescent angst of ‘Add It Up‘ and ‘Black Girls‘, while at the other end of the maturity scale, ‘Country Death Song‘, a father’s confession of rural infanticide, predates today’s alt-country shenanigans.
As it is with Tom Waits and Julian Cope, there will always be an unpleasant smell of student-halls-of-residence sadness about [a]Violent Femmes[/a]; you can only imagine the bizarre ‘Blockbuster‘-type hand-dancing during ‘Blister In The Sun‘. It’s Firkin punk, if you like, but [a]Violent Femmes[/a] can still make your skin crawl and feet tap. Which is more than can be said for wannabes like Gomez.