Monthly Archives: May 2013

Victor DeLorenzo’s Genre Journey

From the June 2013 Riverwest Currents

cd cover-iso  (1)

Victor DeLorenzo, s/t album

Bachelor Farmer Recordings

By Tea Krulos

The unique sound of the Violent Femmes, dubbed “folk punk,” can be attributed to all three of the founding members—the bleating, angst filled vocals of Gordon Gano, the thumping walk of Brian Ritchie’s bass, and the eclectic approach to percussion by Victor DeLorenzo.

The Violent Femmes’ first album, 1983’s self titled debut, differed greatly from many of its contemporaries. It was a time of sounds heavily relying on droning synthesizers, but one of the Femmes most famous melodies, “Gone Daddy Gone,” features the Femmes plinking  away  a catchy barrage from a less puffy- haired instrument–  the xylophone.

Other bands from the 1983 yearbook were super-sizing their drumsets, adding dozens of drums and flotillas of cymbals and sometimes giant gongs that looked like something from a set of a kung-fu movie. Meanwhile, DeLorenzo’s set up for one of the Femmes’ biggest hits, “Blister in the Sun,” was refreshingly simple– a snare drum and a pair of steel brushes.

These choices ended up serving the Femmes extremely well. While many of the bands of 1983 are like flies trapped in amber, the Femmes’ debut, now 30 years old, has a timeless sound that still sounds fresh today. The band has reunited after a hiatus of over 5 years to play a handful of shows like Coachella and Summerfest. They’re as young as ever.

During the periods between Femmes gigs, DeLorenzo has kept himself busy with a variety of musical projects that have expanded in direction far beyond the Femmes. While the other Femmes members have moved on to other parts of the world, DeLorenzo still lives on the east side. He plays a mix of chamber rock and jazz improv with a trio named Nineteen Thirteen, who play regular gigs at the Jazz Estate, and lays down the blues with a group named Lorenzo Menzerschmidt.

All of this has led to DeLorenzo’s first solo album, 15 tracks of musical explorations, an unpredictable mix of the best kind. Recorded sporadically over nine years, it has a touch of everything DeLorenzo has immersed himself in—jazz, experimental, pop, blues, and Femmes style punk- folk. The album was recorded with DeLorenzo’s children and other guests adding their musical talents to the mix. DeLorenzo’s fellow Violent Femmes member, Gordon Gano, takes over for vocals on “Dr. Um,” a fun, trippy song that shows off a love of wordplay.

Other stand out tracks include an excellent cover of the Zombies “I Remember When I Loved Her,” the punk flavored “Gonna Wanna,” the catchy layer of drums and vocals on “Bow,” and “Auction Man (yer on the air),” which sounds like something from a Frank Zappa session.

Guest vocalist Kim Manning joins in on a sunshine filled cover of the Violent Femmes’ “Good Feeling,” which originally appeared on the Femmes’ debut album, bringing this story full circle.

The amazing feat of this mixture of styles is that it sounds innovative instead of muddy, which is a testament of DeLorenzo’s creativity as a drummer and a songwriter. Highly recommended for fans of the Violent Femmes or anyone seeking something unique and catchy to add to their playlist.

The album is available at CD Baby here:

Poem from Palookaville

“Palookaville,” an old man once told me,

“is really the stupidest place

You can tell when someone has stepped off the bus from Palookaville

by the stupid look all over their face”

He said, “those damn stupid Palookas, they’re as stupid as a box of limes,

and you can read about them in the world’s stupidest newspaper,

the stupid Palookaville Times.”