Screeching Weasel - Television City Dream (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Screeching Weasel

Television City Dream (1998)

Fat Wreck Chords

By 1998, Screeching Weasel was 12 years old. They had already broken up twice, and gone through countless band members. Television City Dream was their 9th full length studio album, and their second for Fat Wreck Chords. Their first Fat album, Bark Like a Dog (1996), featured the classic Weasel/Jughead/Vapid/Panic lineup. It was also their highest charting record to date. That record included “Cool Kids”, which probably remains their best known song. It seemed like Screeching Weasel was finally poised to join Green Day, The Offspring and Rancid in the land of commercial success.

Of course, that never happened. Screeching Weasel managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, effectively ending any chance the band had of “making it”. It started when Danny Vapid and Dan Panic left the band, leaving only the core of Ben Weasel and John “Jughead” Pierson. They were replaced by producer extraordinaire/bassist Mass Giorgino and drummer Dan Lumley, both from Squirtgun. Ben was also tired of playing guitar (again), so they also added second guitarist Zac Damon. The Weasel/Jughead/Damon/Giorgini/Lumley lineup would only record the Major Label Debut EP (1998) and Television City Dream.

If commercial success was in fact Screeching Weasel’s ultimate goal, then TVCD was a subconscious act of self sabotage. The songs were shorter and faster than anything the band had done in a decade. It certainly wasn’t the bland adult contemporary type of pop punk that the now wealthy Green Day was cranking out. While it was welcomed by the punk faithful, it wasn’t likely to win the band many new followers among the newer generation of pop punk fans.

In hindsight, Television City Dream has aged well. “Speed of Mutation”, “Dummy Up”, “Outside of You”, “We are the Generation X” and “Burn it Down” are all standouts. The cover of “Pervert at Large” by fellow Chicagoans The Vindictives is also an instant classic.Most of the other songs are great too, but some of them are just too short. They could have used some more Jughead noodling and a few more repetitions of the catchy choruses. Ultimately, it felt reactionary to the way too poppy Bark Like a Dog.

The cover art for the original version was done by Mass Giorgini’s father, the well known Italian artist Aldo Giorgini. Fat reissued the album in 2010 with different artwork and five bonus tracks from the same session. For what it’s worth, none of these songs are played live by the current Ben only version of Screeching Weasel. They do however rip through many of the older songs at this same breakneck speed. Maybe the purpose of Television City Dream was to serve as a harbinger for what was to come. If all the SW records were ranked from best to worst, this deserves a spot somewhere in the middle.