- Publish Date
- Monday, 21 December 2015, 9:52AM
Violent Femmes’ ninth studio album and first full-length collection in more than 15 years, 'We Can Do Anything' is among the most provocative and playful in the legendary trio’s remarkable canon. As the album’s title makes plain, the band – singer/songwriter/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and drummer Brian Viglione – remains as intrepid and fearless as ever before, traversing genre and emotion via their immediately identifiable, still utterly idiosyncratic, mash of rambunctious folk, minimalist punk, cubist blues, cosmic jazz, and backwoods rock ‘n’ roll.
Produced by Jeff Hamilton – a longtime member of the Horns of Dilemma, Violent Femmes’ ever-evolving cabal of multi-instrumentalist backing musicians – and mixed by the legendary John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Dinosaur, Jr.), 'We Can Do Anything' was recorded in studios in Brooklyn, Nashville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Denver, while on tour during the summer of 2015. The album’s cover image was drawn by Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn, who also contributed accordion, guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals on several recordings. Rounding out the live touring band and members of The Horns of Dilemma are John Sparrow and Blaise Garza who has been playing with the band since he was 14 years old.
Gano gathered the album’s material by diving headlong into his own voluminous archives, listening to ancient cassette demos and leafing through old journals in search of suitable songs. Among his finds were such new classics as the murderous “Big Car” and the fractured fairy tale, “I Could Be Anything,” Of the album’s more recent songs, “Foothills” and “Holy Ghost” were both penned with the team of Sam Hollander and Dave Katz (Train, Joe Cocker), while “Issues” – co-written by Gano with Hollander and Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin (Christina Perri, Howie Day) – stands out as vintage Violent Femmes, as lyrically cutting as it is musically kinetic. Penned by Gano’s big sister, gifted folk singer/songwriter/artist Cynthia Gayneau, “What You Really Mean,” the album’s sole cover, might as well be an original composition, hewing remarkably close to the frontman’s own sonic sensibility and lyrical heart. Colored by explosive arrangements that veer on a dime from hard charging stomp to intimate melancholy, 'We Can Do Anything' is Violent Femmes at their very finest – joyous, exciting, and eternal.
'We Can Do Anything' arrives hot on the heels of Violent Femmes’ acclaimed 2015 EP, 'Happy New Year'. Recorded in Ritchie’s adopted home of Hobart, Tasmania as the band prepared for a sold out New Year’s Eve 2014 concert at the world famous Sydney Opera House, the EP is highlighted by “Love Love Love Love Love” and “Good For/At Nothing” both of which are accompanied by animated companion videos streaming now at the band’s official YouTube channel. HAPPY NEW YEAR is available now on the iTunes Store and other online retailers.
One of the most beloved bands of the golden age of indie rock, Violent Femmes returned to action in 2013 with an acclaimed performance at Coachella, their first live appearance in several years. Drummer Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails) came aboard in 2013. The Violent Femmes embarked on a wide-ranging tour that included headline dates and ecstatically received festival sets around the world. The Guardian applauded their London show as “a triumphant rampage through their back catalogue,” declaring the band’s self-titled 1983 debut to be “a cult classic of teenage alienation – a sneerier, post-pubescent Catcher in the Rye, if you like, with added nocturnal emissions and rattling acoustic bass solos.”
Violent Femmes came together in 1981 and were quickly ranked among the era’s most inventive and original, constantly pushing forward with their singular blend of folk and punk, sarcasm and spirituality. The trio released eight studio albums and more than a dozen singles, among them such iconic classics as “American Music,” “Gone Daddy Gone,” “Nightmares, “Add It Up,” “Kiss Off” and of course, “Blister In The Sun.” Violent Femmes’ remarkable three-decade career earned them cumulative sales in excess of 10 million worldwide, with 1983’s 'Violent Femmes' earning RIAA platinum certification eight years after its initial release.
With the turn of the millennium, Violent Femmes began a long hiatus from the studio, only coming together in 2009 to record a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” returning the favor after the psychedelic soul duo’s cover of “Gone Daddy Gone” proved a worldwide smash.