From Phoenix, AZ comes the full-on sonic assault of TV Tragedy, whose burning punk ambitions feel similar to the pointed politics, accessible smarts, and fierce focus of Anti-Flag, in terms of carving out anthemic tunes that feel timely and timeless at the same time.
They are also able to wield tough and skilled poetics to explore their topics as well. For instance, “Nuclear Shadows” recounts both the horror and unbelievable power of a nuclear bomb exploding over Japanese cities in the summer of 1945, in which “the mourning star emits / a blast of fifteen kilotons” ending with “bodies vaporized / in seconds by the blinding light.” So, behind the blazing grit and speed, gnarly vocals, and toiling blitz of guitars, their intelligence permeates and fills the spaces too.
And their appeal to fight back harder and smarter remains consistent and impressive, as they stress on “X-Ray Audio” that people have to harness their energies and push back relentlessly, both “devising new ways / of distributing rock n roll” but also toppling, or at least subverting and resisting, the ongoing Stalin-like censorship, cultural suppression, and general control systems that keeps us huddle and muddled. And their music rises up within us, like a great agitator.
Plus, that theme is urgently explored in “Wake Up,” which critiques how we live like sheep in modern flocks, caged-in and restricted, in both cultural ways, like obeying the airwaves and signals (“scriptures of your TV Guide”) and being stuck in workplaces (“clustered cubicles”), leaving us alienated and dragged down, forced to submit to norms that we never had a chance to help define or build. Yet, we think we’re equal. But that equality, they remind us, is something you have to tackle and seize.
Following up, “Qualified Immunity” takes direct aim at police brutality and their strong-armed control efforts, such as beating people to a pulp and freely using pepper spray. As the band insists, police are operators of social control, a notion blurted alongside their surging mid-paced momentum and stinging guitar. Meanwhile, "War Incorporated" not only utilizes both English and Spanish lyrics but also adds in stylistic variation, like moments of crashing punk-ska skitters as well as metallic crunch and huge choruses, to question the metaphor of the beating war drum and the complex, all-encompassing military-industrial system exploiting everybody in its grip.
In all, the band proves that we are living in troubled, turbulent times, and the only sensible reaction is to gather your spirit, be resilient to the core, and fight for a future that is free, liberated, and just.