10/04/2011

POP-PUNK DREAMS

Cover art courtesy Tenement


My friends over at Mandible Records put out one of my favorite records of the year (geez, we're already entering that time, aren't we?). I really wanted to write about it, so I did, even though I had nowhere to publish such a review. Trust, you can relive summer with this album.

TENEMENT, NAPALM DREAM
JUNE 2011

I discovered pop-punk during the summer before eighth grade. Like, really discovered pop-punk. This involved replacing most activities with listening to Dude Ranch at full volume in my room alone. I began to refuse to do the things I didn't want to do. My parents thought I was a pain in the ass. I related more to music than anything else.

Whatever it is about pop-punk that imbues us with a sense of possibility--be it the melodies, the undeniable catchiness, or the relatedness to teen reality--that summer changed all the rest. Pop-punk had elaborated on the tiny bits of wisdom I was capturing on cassette tape, off the radio, at the height of grunge and alternative pop in the 1990s. 

I had yet to feel a real connection to that weird and exciting time in my young life until Mandible Records sent me the long-awaited Tenement full-length, Napalm Dream. If you've been following Tenement, it might take you a minute, but you'll recognize some of the hits (like "Skyscraper" and "Stupid Werld"). Napalm Dream is the clean recording that we've all been waiting for.

If you're not familiar with Tenement, they are a young trio from Appleton, Wisconsin, playing a  combination of grunge, alternative pop, and pop-punk that blows most bands trying to do the same out of the water. Napalm Dream evokes all of the sounds that I've blasted out of the stereo every summer since that one, but with Tenement's own midwestern feel. These dudes really know how to write a pop record.

Tenement's last cassette blasted open with "Skyscraper," a favorite track of mine, so I hoped I'd get to hear a cleaner version on the LP; my wish was granted. Jared of Mandible played "City Bus" on repeat in my room before I had a chance to really listen to the track, which may be one of the best on the album. 

Amos, Tenement's guitar and vocalist, also moonlights as Paul Collins (the self-proclaimed "King of Pop")'s drummer when they tour the midwest. As if any pop fan wasn't already convinced to check Tenement out, hopefully this will do it. Consider Napalm Dream my number one most recommended jam of the summer.

Take a listen here.

-- KW