Reviews Tenement Napalm Dream

Tenement

Napalm Dream

Wow, this isn’t at all what I was expecting. With a one word name and the title Napalm Dream, I had images of guttural-voice hardcore and power stomps instead of Replacements’-schooled Midwest punk. Sure, I’d seen the name a lot in various Wisconsin-related shows over the past couple of years, but for some reason I associated the band with a different crowd.

Tenement doesn’t waste any time in establishing themselves. From the getgo of “Stupid Werld,” it’s a Replacements-style, big guitar, sloppy vocal, blue collar approach to punk rock. While they mix up the sound and tempo over the record, The Replacements really are the start and end point on Napalm Dream, drawing on themes such as the city landscape, personal reflection, and a recurring cynicism. The poppy “City Bus #30” is a perfect example, with its clean production defining the strong melodies while Amos Pitsch sings, “everything went wrong again.” There’s a grittiness to the content that contrasts with the crisp melodies and it delivers a classic, beer-in-the-air feel. A similar approach is employed throughout, on “Running into Mirrors” and “Skyscraper.” To keep with the Wisconsin theme, think Modern Machines with more aggression. There’s little re-invention, but it’s enjoyable classic, spill-your-beer punk.

The band mixes it up, too. Whether the subtle ‘90s Fat Wreck influence in “Earwig” or the Ramones-core lite stylings of “A Death in the Family.” The greatest deviation, however, is the closing “Schadenfreude.” Here, Jesse Ponkamo takes over lead vocals, and the song has a harder edge, reminding of Jeff Erg songs from his namesake band, and also The Measure [SA] when Fid takes over. It’s a contrast in styles that really shakes up the album’s rhythm. While in the aforementioned bands this variation tends to improve a record’s feel, here it seems a little too different, with Ponkamo lacking the clean chops to match the record’s production. While it’s not a bad song, it ends the record on a bit of a weaker note. My favorites come with Pitsch on the mic, and I’m anxious to here a release with a touch more consistency.

Plus, they mailed me the cd in a cut out record sleeve instead of a manila envelope. Bonus points.

7.2 / 10Loren
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Hanged Up

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