Throughout my travels to antique stores and thrift shops, more often than not, I come across albums and/or CD’s that grab my attention in milliseconds. I usually find the Metal, Punk Rock or Extreme Music that is not in stock at your local Walmart, Best Buy or f.y.e., therefore my journey’s to these eclectic shops are never in vain. Sure, the vast majority of underground and obscure music titles can be had online just about anywhere you look, I am an avid consumer of online purchases this way. However, it is just a tad more cool to actually hunt down or stumble upon a CD of a band that is not on any mainstream or commercial charts… not in the limelight whatsoever… and this band is unique, a definite qualifier for existing in the world of Extreme Music. Please excuse me, if I say that the three dollars I paid to bring home Violent Femmes “Why Do Birds Sing?”, (released in 1991), was a smart move. Three dollars versus the eleven dollars (or more) it would have cost me to buy this CD brand new online… not counting the shipping and tax costs. Used CD? Is there such a thing? Man, a CD really has to be scratched up and bent out of shape for me to consider it used. Besides, I am not that naive to purchase a used CD without inspecting the surface wear of the actual disc itself. Crap, I better get on with the actual music found here, on “Why Do Birds Sing?” and stop this ranting about the science of used CD hunting and purchasing.
Hey man, anytime a band is considered, labeled or sounds like Folk Punk Rock, this said band is embraced by Metal Odyssey. What is more unique than Folk Punk? C’mon, this genre is flying under the radar for decades and is a survivor. I certainly remember there being a cult following for the Violent Femmes back in my college days. (I honestly never gave them a listen back then, I was either too broke to afford new tunes or too occupied with my core bands of Thrash and Heavy Metal). Life is all about exploring… and explore my ears have done with this Violent Femmes CD. To pursue the music that lies within “Why Do Birds Sing?”, for me, is paralleled to taking a road trip without a map. In other words, this album has been something I never expected, I never really knew what may be around the next turn, what will the next song be like? Will there be memorable tunes along the way?
Before I mention some of the songs on this album… just look at the album cover artwork found here. I am going to use the words – retrospective silly. Yes, I used the words retrospective silly on Metal Odyssey. This artwork captures the who cares what the system thinks of us attitude that is sweltering from the music of the Violent Femmes. There are no muscular barbarians, warlocks, monsters, skulls, science fiction backdrops or busty women on this album cover. The music that is within “Why Do Birds Sing” does not need any of these covers to win me over. The music holds it’s own, without the help of cover artwork… the Violent Femmes created some really good music here, all 13 songs of it. These Violent Femmes do a darn good cover on The Culture Club hit “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”, for this genre of music, this song captivates as much as it rocks. “Hey Nonny Nonny” is a folk rocking, vocally punk rockin’, foot stompin’, knee slapping, pass me another beer, hip little song. “Used To Be” is a melodic, free flowing Rock & Roll song, reflecting on how a man and a woman used to be happy before their world ended… the lyrics never state exactly why their worlds ended. “Girl Trouble” definitely encompasses all things 1950′s Rock & Roll, only that the lyrics and vocals would never fit into the decade of the ’50′s. (This song definitely fits in with me). My favorite song on this album is “More Money Tonight” – this is the one track that does not have the Folk Punk Rock happening, instead it rocks like a late 1970′s Rolling Stones tune… vocally I swear I hear Mick Jagger himself. (I am not kidding).
In the grand scope of Folk Punk Rock, these Violent Femmes are and should be regarded as true stalwarts for their genre. If you are looking to get into a band that is so damn different from what you are currently into, the Violent Femmes will give you a taste of old time Rock & Roll, mixed in with some Folk, sprinkled with some eccentric lyrics, and layered with Punk Rock attitude and vocals. The crusty surface on all of these songs only make for a more diverse and unique musical trip. The Violent Femmes as they appear on “Why Do Birds Sing?”: Gordon Gano on vocal and acoustic guitar, Brian Ritchie on acoustic bass guitar, banjo, electric guitar and jaw harp, Victor DeLorenzo on brushed snare drum, tranceaphone, vocals and drums and Michael Beinhorn on piano.