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The first new album in fifteen years from Violent Femmes, We Can Do Anything, finds frontman Gordon Gano’s seething angst and rueful humor undiminished—the record pulses with “the playful quirkiness, infectious beats, and jittery observations of the band’s earliest work.” (NPR Music) It has a been a long road here. Violent Femmes came together in 1981 and were quickly recognized as one of the most inventive and surprising bands of the era with their singular blend of folk and punk, sarcasm and spirituality. Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and original drummer Victor DeLorenz got their first break while busking outside the Oriental Theater in their home town of Milwaukee, where the Pretenders were about to headline a sold out show. Chrissie Hynde & Co. invited them to open on the spot and they never looked back; they released eight albums between their 1983 self-titled platinum-selling classic and 2000’s Freak Magnate before taking a long break from recording. They’re back with a vengeance, and remain an anomaly and an enigma–a sly riddle at the center of American roots music that is yet to be solved.
Kristin Hersh’s trenchant explorations of “rage, aggression, and mental chaos” (NY Times) with Throwing Muses helped define American alt rock in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Her subsequent work as a solo artist and with her power trio 50 Foot Wave, if less celebrated, is equally vital. Now the author of six books, including the exceptional memoir Rat Girl, she remains a ferociously intense presence onstage.