#148 Violent Femmes – Why Do Birds Sing? (1991)


The Violent Femmes were a folk punk band from Milwaukee. Their 1983 album was a cult success but the next 3 records they had released had brought the band very little notoriety. Alternative, college rock, modern rock…call it what you will, in 1990 & 1991  radio stations that hadn’t changed over to Country were turning to this format. In 1991 the Femmes released this disc and caught the end of the wave before Grunge took over. In no way can you compare this CD to the band’s debut, which was really a groundbreaking album. But the band had returned to the stripped down sound that had originally made them so popular. If you like they debut ,then you will like “Why Do Birds Sing?”, because it is like a favorite cousin as far as being a companion offering. The best known song off this effort was “American Music” which was a fun musical romp that sounds like it could have been a bonus track from the first album. It was a top 5 hit on Billboards Modern Rock charts and became a favorite concert staple of the band in the years that followed. Then there is the strange and oddly enjoyable cover of Culture Clubs “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”, some of the words are changed but the heart of the original still beats. There are other fun Femmes tunes on this offering (the key word being fun) like “Out The Window” “Girl Trouble” “Look Like That”, etc. They follow the quick (many times 3 minutes or less), acoustic punk formula that is the charm of this band. The bottom line is….if you like the Femmes first album, you should like this one.

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