The Violent Femmes‘ debut album tends to get most of the hype, but the follow up Hallowed Ground is better. It goes deeper, rocks harder, bites more fiercely, covers more ground. And it kicks off with Country Death Song, a murder ballad that gets all the more harrowing when you realize that Gordon Gano was still in high school when he wrote it. The opposite of a feel-good unless you just can’t enough of that those toe tapping backwoods American myths and legends and brutal truths.
If you were halfway cool in 1983, you were hip to the Violent Femmes first album. None of the commercial radio stations were playing it, but you’d long ago given up on them anyway — cesspools of bad sound, populated by liars. Unlike the Femmes who couldn’t not be fresh, horny, mad, honest – sometimes annoyingly so. But not with Kiss Off. Kiss Off hit it all just right, particularly the part where he counts them all down, his ten points of rage, frustration, spite, EVERYTHING. A punk that required no amplifiers, that could be delivered from a street corner, which is how the band got discovered in the first place.
“The second Violent Femmes album is the one for me, the serious one. Songs of doom and murder and apocalypse and madness and, in the case of Black Girls, f***ing. Which pissed some people off at the time. They called it sexist and racist, but nah, it was just Gordon Gano telling the truth about some of the crazy sh** he got up to when he was young and horny. And man, did they rock it live! Normally just a three piece (and scaled down at that), the Femmes dragged out some horns and things went wild, delirious even. Horny indeed.” (Philip Random)