One of the things I am looking forward to most in 2020, and the months leading up to the US Presidential election, is the massive amount of new DIY-aesthetic punk that I expect to hear as people are finding their voices and making them heard. One of the first such albums is the debut from American Television, Watch It Burn, due for release January 24, 2020 via Wiretap Records.
When I heard the first track, “Awkward Universe” and saw the album art, my first thought was, “This could be Dookie 2020.” The cover looks like a homage to the album with its apocalyptic cityscape displaying planes, bombs and a mushroom cloud but drawn in a similar style to KerPlunk!
The band says, “‘Watch It Burn,’ is about things getting worse. In a world where selfishness and corruption still reign supreme, we can’t help but be angry. It feels like we’re regressing towards a misguided and idealized past. Corporations continue to treat workers like machines, and the gap between the haves and have-nots has widened. For us, that anger turned into 10 gritty, pop-laden punk songs.”
The frenetic drums and guitar remind me a lot of early Green Day and Blink-182. The album starts strong with “Awkward Universe,” a great song that I see as a positive message for people to realize that at the end of the day, despite our differences, everyone is just hoping to make the world a better place.
“Dead & Gone” asks where all the people who caused trouble and put others down in the past have gone. It, along with tracks like “Dad’s Song,” is a wake-up call to those who aren’t happy with what they see in society to realize that the troublemakers don’t have the staying power. They come in, raise shit and disappear. It’s up to those who want to make a change to take it upon themselves to do so.
“Wasteland, USA” at its heart is a love song with the singer expressing his desire to spend his time with someone special to watch it burn (as the title of the album states), as the world implodes.
One of the pre-released singles, “Great Divide” closes out the album and is probably my favorite track. It’s about the divide seen across the US (and in many other countries) between Conservatives and people on the left side of the political spectrum. While we should be working together to close the gap, it seems that the chasm is growing.
The band has announced that proceeds from the album pre-sale will go to help victims of the Australian fires.