Violent Femmes were a perfect fit for twenty-first century alt-reunions, having beloved eighties & nineties singles “Blister In the Sun” and “American Music”. However, in 2016 they managed to put out a record of brand new tunes, We Can Do Anything (QRO review), and if it wasn’t as great as their late greats, it was great that they weren’t just coasting on their late greats. Now comes follow-up Hotel Last Resort, which manages to include some songs sure to be requested by fans, alongside the oldies.
The clear standout on Resort is opener “Another Chorus”, where singer/guitarist Gordon Gano mocks bands like the Violent Femmes who play too long. Somewhat straddling the line between jam and punk, yet playing acoustic, it’s hilarious Femmes, even if the rest of the record can’t quite match up. There are other memorable pieces, like Gano’s wry version of the biblical on “Adam Was a Man”, kiss-off to politics “I’m Nothing” (even if that ‘pox on all houses, including my own’ worked better, pre-Trump – and the band already have their kiss-off song in classic “Kiss Off”), rapid fire a cappella “Sleepin’ at the Meetin’”, and their darker version of “God Bless America” to close.
The Violent Femmes are always going to be in the shadow of their heyday, and the best thing about a new Violent Femmes record is always going to be that they go on tour for it & play your old favorites. But this is more than a Last Resort.