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Violent Femmes

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Bio

The textbook American cult band of the 1980s, the Violent Femmes captured the essence of teen angst with remarkable precision; raw and jittery, the trio's music found little commercial success but nonetheless emerged as the soundtrack for the lives of troubled adolescents the world over. The group formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early '80s, and comprised singer/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. Ritchie originated the band's oxymoronic name, adopting the word "femme" from the Milwaukee area's slang for wimps. After being discovered by the Pretenders' James Honeyman-Scott, the Violent Femmes signed to Slash and issued their self-titled 1983 debut, a melodic folk-punk collection which struck an obvious chord with young listeners who felt a strong connection to bitter, frustrated songs like "Blister in the Sun," "Kiss Off," and "Add It Up." Though never a chart hit, the album remained a rite of passage for succeeding generations of teen outsiders, and after close to a decade in release, it finally achieved platinum status. With 1984's Hallowed Ground, Gano's lyrics began to reflect his devout Baptist upbringing, while the Femmes' music approached more traditional folk and country structures. Produced by Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison, 1986's The Blind Leading the Naked advanced toward a more mainstream sound; a cover of the T. Rex chestnut "Children of the Revolution" even became a minor hit. After the record's release, the Femmes temporarily disbanded: Gano recorded a self-titled 1987 album with his gospel side project the Mercy Seat, while Ritchie issued a series of solo LPs including 1987's The Blend and 1989's Sonic Temple & Court of Babylon for SST. (I See a Noise appeared on Dali Records in 1990.) In 1989, the group resurfaced with 3, followed by 1991's Why Do Birds Sing?, which featured the Femmes' deconstructionist cover of Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" Following the release of the 1993 compilation Add It Up (1981-1993), DeLorenzo exited the Violent Femmes to resume the solo career he began two years prior with the release of Peter Corey Sent Me; his sophomore effort, Pancake Day, appeared in 1996. Former Oil Tasters and BoDeans drummer Guy Hoffman was tapped as DeLorenzo's replacement in time to record 1994's New Times for Elektra Records, which proved their sole release for the label. Rock!!!!! was released in 1995 on Mushroom Records only in Australia; the live Viva Wisconsin followed on the American indie label Beyond in 1999, trailed early the next year by a new studio effort, Freak Magnet. In the spring of 2001, the Femmes released their first MP3-only album, Something's Wrong, through the website EMusic.com; it collected an assortment of rarities, including covers, acoustic live tracks, alternate versions, demos, and the like. In 2002, Rhino/Slash reissued their debut as a two-disc deluxe edition that featured 22 previously unreleased tracks, followed by Permanent Record: The Very Best Of in 2005. The Violent Femmes closed out 2005 with a New Year's Eve show featuring all three original members and Guy Hoffman. This union was punctured in 2007 when Ritchie filed a lawsuit against Gano, seeking proper accounting of royalties while also claiming he was denied credit for songwriting; additionally, he stated Gano licensed "Blister in the Sun" for use in a Wendy's commercial without permission. During the lawsuit, the Violent Femmes managed to release a single -- a cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," appearing in June of 2008 -- but the tensions caused the group to split in 2009. Ritchie and Gano settled out of court in 2012 and the Violent Femmes reunited in 2013, playing a number of shows, including a slot at that year's Coachella festival, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their landmark debut. Following these shows, drummer Victor DeLorenzo departed acrimoniously -- in a statement, he claimed "In regards to my history with the Violent Femmes, the dream never quite got there" -- and was swiftly replaced by Brian Viglione, a drummer with the Dresden Dolls. Over the next couple of years, this lineup played frequently and released a four-song EP for Record Store Day in 2015, a teaser for the full-length We Can Do Anything in 2016. By the time that album appeared in March 2016, Viglione had resigned from the band. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Albums by
Violent Femmes

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    10 songs

    On Air

    We Can Do Anything

    12 songs

    On Air

    Violent Femmes

    18 songs

    On Air

    Freak Magnet [Bonus Tracks]

    21 songs

    On Air

    Viva Wisconsin [Bonus Track]

    13 songs

    On Air

    New Times

    13 songs

    On Air

    Why Do Birds Sing?

    12 songs

    On Air

    3

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Blind Leading the Naked

    36 songs

    On Air

    Violent Femmes [Deluxe Edition]

    9 songs

    On Air

    Hallowed Ground

    72 songs

    On Air

    The Violent Femmes Collection

    1 song

    On Air

    Memory

    3 songs

    On Air

    Crazy

    20 songs

    On Air

    Permanent Record: The Very Best Of

    20 songs

    On Air

    Viva Wisconsin

    6 songs

    On Air

    Archive Series No. 1

    23 songs

    On Air

    Add It Up (1981-1993)

    8 songs

    On Air

    Archive Series No. 2 - Live in Chicago Q101

    18 songs

    On Air

    Freak Magnet

    21 songs

    On Air

    Viva Wisconsin

    13 songs

    On Air

    No Let's Start Over [DVD]

    10 songs

    On Air

    Violent Femmes

    12 songs

    On Air

    Rock!!!!!

    15 songs

    On Air

    Freak Magnet

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Top Songs by
Violent Femmes

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Blister in the Sun
  3.   Kiss Off
  4.   Add It Up
  5.   American Music
  6.   Prove My Love
  7.   Gone Daddy Gone
  8.   Nightmares
  9.   Fat
  10.   Country Death Song
  11.   Out the Window
  12.   Good Feeling
  13.   Breakin' Up
  14.   Please Do Not Go
  15.   Promise
  16.   In Style
  17.   Crazy
  18.   I'm Nothing
  19.   Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
  20.   What You Really Mean
  21.   Gone Daddy Gone/I Just Want to Make
  22.   Freak Magnet
  23.   Color Me Once
  24.   36-24-26
  25.   Positively 4th Street
  26. See All Songs

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