The Violent Femmes have released a new HD version of the music video for their 1991 song, “American Music.” The clip arrives as the band preps a 40th-anniversary reissue of their 1993 compilation, Add It Up (1981-1993), out May 21st via Craft Recordings.
The clip, directed by Adam Bernstein, pairs the Violent Femmes’ song with a surreal blast of Americana, mashing together square dances, disco balls, and psychedelia. In an email to Rolling Stone, Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie said Bernstein “got certain elements of the Violent Femmes” that separated them from other groups.
“For example, we do not try to be cool,” Ritchie said. “We embrace the fringes of the music world and people who are not part of it. We started out playing on the streets for the general public, and those are the people inhabiting this video. The song talks about ‘American Music’ as a continuum and as many genres that are all interconnected. Showing psychedelia side by side with disco and folk music is a visual way of illustrating that point.”
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Originally released in 1993, Add It Up (1981-1993) is a 23-track compilation of the Violent Femmes’ biggest hits from their first five albums, plus an array of live recordings and unreleased B-sides, demos, and other rarities. The new reissue will mark the first time since the original pressing that the record has been available on vinyl.
“We put together the Add It Up compilation not to showcase our greatest hits, but to tell the story of the band up to that point using those hits interspersed with odd material such as phone messages, live tracks, commercials, rants, and other detritus,” Ritchie said of the release. “We thought that conveyed the spirit of the band better than a straight compilation. Our improvisational side and theatricality shows in the flow of the listening experience.”