Tenement - Napalm Dream CD
What does it mean to live in the Midwest, to grow up in a small, dead-end town overshadowed by a nearby metropolis? Appleton, Wisconsin's Tenement seem to provide an answer on Napalm Dream, which embodies a particular Midwest sound while creating its own particular contribution to the cultural landscape/wasteland of Wisconsin and similar areas. Hüsker Dü and the Replacements are the immediate sonic influences, but while Tenement pay tribute to each of their unique sounds, they end up sounding like neither. Instead, they combine the twang of the Mats with the early crunch-and-solo of Dinosaur Jr. and a subtle nod to the most tender Descendents ballads.
The reason Napalm Dream succeeds where similar albums fail is because it feels complete, like effort was put into the lyrics, images, and music in ways that go beyond the half-assed pop-punk "beer and girls" that has become a (beloved) standard. In some ways, the record makes a connection between the ways in which punk itself has come to reflect the failings of the American Dream and our attempts to live with this "stupid world." Yet the tone is not quite critical of either punk or nostalgic pretensions; rather, Napalm Dream seems to reference these aspirations in a way that brings out their tensions, contradictions and impossibility, all reinforced by deft and powerful songwriting.