Tenement - Bruised Music: Volume 2 (Cover Artwork)


Bruised Music: Volume 2 (2016)

Toxic pop/grave mistake

Tenement’s newest installment in the Bruised Music compilations follows up a stellar volume one and their confounding behemoth double LP, Predatory Headlights. Bruised Music: Volume 2 collects the Appleton trio’s trail of split 7-inches and EPs that held us over until Predatory Headlights’ summer 2015 release. The output includes splits with Chicago hardcore staple Cülo, Cheeky (RIP,) their current Don Giovanni labelmates, Screaming Females, and numerous singles that have were almost exclusively home-recorded on an 8-track or tape decks. The material on Volume 2 documents their transition from an adolescent sound into the scrappy group of midwestern weirdos who cozy up with country records.

Tenement’s musical palette sounds more refined than the initial collection, but it doesn’t paint the group as tame; the songwriting is still fierce and is captivatingly unique. Songs like “Wouldn't Let You Go” sprawl across six minutes adding and subtracting sounds into the mix, and eventually ending with three minutes of unidentifiable warped sounds. The interlude, “Jet Slug” plays like Tenement noodling around in a play place and mastered all the instruments, which actually turns into a very nice harmonious piece of music. They’re strange and jarring pieces to place in a punk a record, but they belong amongst the band's exploration.

A good amount of the LP spends time with it’s foot off the gas pedal from breakneck speeds, which lends the band some more breathing room and the mix for more instrumentation to be heard. The notable, “Books on Hell” is the most urgent Tenement have ever sounded. “Daylight World” bounces back and forth with a gallop and sounds out with a tender delivery from vocalist, Amos Pitsch.

There is a grip of Tenement’s classic midwestern-tinged punk on the compilation, as well. “Blast Exhaust” speeds through 90 seconds of blown out distortion and screeching guitar feedback. From the Cülo split, “Your Life or Mine” straight-up flaunts their impeccable capability to pack an unreasonable amount of musical content into a two-minute punk song. There are very few bands (or none at all) that can pound out a song with so much rhythmic skill; songs take so many unpredictable moves and the drums never stay in one place for more than a few measures.

On Bruised Music: Volume 2, every song is a boundary shove for what punk bands could be doing within a genre if they had the willingness to create. Over these releases, Tenement refused to stay in their pocket of catchy punk and they wrote their way out of music that journalists could easily compare to Husker Dü. In recent months, Stephen Edgerton shared his love for Tenement, and Iggy Pop just gave Tenement multiple spins on his radio show. It’s affirming to see musicians who paved the way for modern creators tip their hat back. Tenement are going to be timeless musicians who make music that’s grounded in where it's from- which is the middle of nowhere.