Mixing punk and folk: I listened to Violent Femmes today

I was enjoying Violent Femmes’ 1983 eponymous debut album today, and when I decided to post about it, I wondered how I would describe this music. I thought that the guitar riffs, the attitude, and the lyrics felt like punk music, but with acoustic instruments. A mix of punk and folk! Then while surfing on the Internet, I realized that there apparently was such a thing as the “folk punk” genre… forgive my ignorance! I don’t know Violent Femmes’ subsequent albums were as punk as this one though. One thing’s for sure, once again, the Violent Femmes song that got most radio airplay of them all (American Music) is one of the less interesting ones. Of course their lyrics might be a bit too much for conventional radio…

In any case, this album constitutes another proof of the quality of some of the music produced in the 80’s. This record expresses the raw energy and feelings of youth, but with enough intelligence that it remains enjoyable years later. Although, forgive me for saying this, but the angry sexual frustration expressed here sounds a bit creepy for a woman. LOL. No hard feelings Violent Femmes, I’ll even post the all time favorite “Add it up” anyway so there you go! But we’ll begin with “Kiss off”, one of my favorite angry frustrated songs.

Anti-authoritarian Bad Religion: a punk rock band led by a PhD holder

Bad Religion is an influential and successful (both critically and commercially) american punk rock band that’s been recording and touring for over 30 years. Their style features three-part vocal harmonies, guitar solos, catchy choruses, and of course socially aware lyrics. Religion, here, is a metaphor for anything that limits independent thought. It is quite clear when you listen to the lyrics that the ideas conveyed in those songs are very progressive. One of the fun facts about this band is that original member and lead vocalist Greg Gaffin has a PhD in zoology (evolutionary biology) and has taught (or still teaches, I’m not sure) both at UCLA and Cornell University. There you go. Stay in school, kids!

This is one of the only punk rock bands I still listen to. This band is not just about releasing energy, these guys have something to say. Moreover, Greg Gaffin has a great voice – very different from the intolerable creaky nasal voices of several other punk rock singers. 30 years later, the voice is still great. This 2013 live show in France features many good songs, such as old classics like “Anastesia”, “Generator”, and “I want to conquer the world”, as well as a few new songs that I like such as “True North” from their latest album.

Who’s up for some California ska punk reggay rock… Sublime style?

I had to put this post under the hard/punk/ska category, although Sublime has several reggay-type songs that are quite accessible to a wide audience (although the lyrics might not be… yeah might not be my parents’ cup of tea). Sadly, charismatic singer Brad Nowell died at 28 of a heroin overdose in 1996, just before Sublime now-famous eponym album was released. What a great album. Rest in peace Brad!

Here’s a live performance of Johnny Butt and Don’t push. Also, for your enjoyment, two music videos: “What I got” and “Same in the end”. Now, who want to go surfing? Or skateboarding? Or even longboarding? (remember the longboard? No? Check the videos!!)