TENEMENT mopped the floor with conventional showmanship the second they walked in the door. With their eyes closed and their heads tilted toward the heavens, they’ve been known to stand still in the spotlight and let their glorious noise ring out, naked and uninhibited. This isn’t a hateful noise, but it is a sincere one that if received by a perceptive audience, can tug at the gut and induce a primal shiver from the mind to the heart. Perhaps this honesty can be attributed to their Midwestern stereotype, or perhaps they are in fact true outsiders among their Rock and Roll peers. No matter which, the curiosity that is TENEMENT began in 2006 with a series of loose demo recordings and singles that married the genres of “Pop” and “Punk” without being explicitly “Pop Punk” and to many, represented the power and urgency of Hardcore without actually conforming to the genre itself. These recordings have been compiled here by Grave Mistake Records and Toxic Pop Records for their new collection LP, Bruised Music Volume One, which covers TENEMENT’s output on record between the years 2006 to 2009.
During this early period, the group consisted of Amos Pitsch on guitar and vocals, Jesse Ponkamo on bass guitar, and a short-lived drummer, which in the wake of current drummer Eric Mayer, remains a shadowy figure. This is due mostly to a violent and bloody tantrum which left said drummer relieved of its duties and coldly disowned by the rest of the group. Most of the material on Bruised Music was recorded at a university studio in Oshkosh, Wisconsin by long time friend and schoolmate Tyler Ditter, who also doubled as lead guitarist on a handful of tracks. Justin Perkins recorded the rest. A lauded engineer and producer in his own right, he also recorded TENEMENT’s 2011 LP, Napalm Dream among many other critically acclaimed records within the realm of punk and indie rock.
The influence of 80’s punk is strong in the bulk of the material on Bruised Music, likening the feeling of The Descendents or The Replacements. However, this comparison might seem lazy when you keep in mind that the members of TENEMENT had long schooled themselves on everything from The Beatles to Big Star, Sun Ra, Coltrane, Black Flag, Husker Du. Obscure hardcore punk to Brill Building pop music and all points in between. The period of time represented in this collection is a period of growing pains that paved the way for them to become the band that they are today, and the band that they will be many years from now. It’s the birth of a strong creative force; the musicians together learning to crawl, and the great American outsider pop group taking its first steps. Grace and elegance go out the window on this one. It’s clumsy and ugly at times. Its breath stinks and its pimples show. It talks loudly in a quiet room. It speaks its mind and spares no sensitivity. It’s TENEMENT’s Bruised Music.