VIOLENT FEMMES & DEAP VALLY
Making music that’s jittery, neurotic, darkly comical, but also powerfully catchy, the Violent Femmes are a pillar of American underground movement, and one of the best early examples of alternative rock. Full of songs built from the unlikely combination of acoustic instruments and seething bile, their self-titled 1983 debut was a groundbreaking collection of tuneful angst, and they released albums steadily through the ’80s and ’90s, including standout moments like the sharp but melodic folk rock of 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? The 2000s were less stable for the Femmes, with some changes to lineup and a slow down in new material, but in 2016 they released We Can Do Anything, their ninth studio album and first new record in 16 years. Tenth album Hotel Last Resort followed (relatively) shortly thereafter in 2019.
The Violent Femmes formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early ’80s, made up of singer/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. After being discovered by the Pretenders‘ James Honeyman-Scott while they were busking on the street, the band signed to Slash and issued their self-titled debut, a melodic folk-punk collection which struck an obvious chord with young listeners who felt a strong connection to bitter, frustrated songs like “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” and “Add It Up.” Though never a chart hit, the album remained a rite of passage for succeeding generations of teen outsiders, and after close to a decade in release, it finally achieved platinum status.
Deap Vally debuted in 2011 with a primal mix of hard rock and greasy blues riffs, like the White Stripes colliding with the Black Keys. The female indie duo formed in Los Angeles after guitarist/howler Lindsey Troy took a crocheting class taught in a San Fernando shop by drummer Julie Edwards. The two swapped CDs from their respective projects and soon decided to jam together. Choosing an image based on halter tops and short jean shorts, they played their first show at Silverlake Lounge. Their raucous on-stage presence would earn them opening slots with acts like Muse, Peaches, Wolfmother, the Vaccines, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In the spring of 2013, the self-professed Valley Girls released a four-song EP, Get Deap!, produced by Lars Stalfors (Matt and Kim, the Mars Volta, Cold War Kids). Their full-length debut, Sistrionix, arrived that same year and was also produced by Stalfors. Their sophomore effort Femejism was issued three years later. Produced by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), the album restrained some of the crunch assault of their debut, showcasing a side of Troy that reflected vocal influences like Karen O, Courtney Barnett, and Chrissie Hynde.
2020 saw them release a collaborative album with The Flaming Lips, to much critical acclaim. In 2021, they release their Digital Dream EP featuring jennylee, KT Tunstall, Peaches, Soko and Jamie Hince.