Round Eye – Monster Vision

They’ve won the “Best Local Band” title from Shanghai’s City Weekend magazine two years in a row. Round Eye, the experimental, sax wielding, freak punk outfit have accrued quite a loud and controversial name for themselves since forming in 2012. The Shanghai based group have shown no mercy nor fatigue in sound development or work ethic and have as of late been a crucial force in bridging a wide gap between the eastern and western hemispheres of DIY punk rock.

Monster Vision is an explicit collection with some of the most accessible music to throw it off that you’d never know without paying very close attention, besides the first title, of course. That being Commie Blues after their guest narrator, none other than comedian John Bloom of the Daily Show, rings in as the DJ of Monster Vision. This only adds to the hardcore yet comprehensive mayhem with occasional help in presenting it along the way. The track itself is one of the more frenetic-paced among several that lack zero energy, creativity and excitement about them. This is where serious and playful meet right in the middle. You can appreciate it from both ends of the spectrum. If you’re already a fan you probably won’t be turned off by the title or anything about it, but if not, what’s a title anyway when you meet it with nothing but fun.

And the fun never lets up with Bloom narrating between as Joe Bob Briggs, as some smoking hot playing to reckon with is bandied about the disc in no short order, other than the running time of the songs which is always right for punk but also gets helped by jazzy overtones. They have tenor-sax players and this is the last album with Steve Mackay recordings. They also like to go by their first names, so it’s not easy to identify with them all and past members. But the music is the most important thing, and they bring it.

Sifter, Troma and Hey Dudes blast through the speakers and make you want to dance up a storm with their fuzzy grooves. And Joe Bob Briggs starts to get funny as he mentions cliché puns and John Goodman at this point. And this band are no strangers, with a Grammy nomination for best Adult Contemporary, just in case you think it’s all garage. It’s not, these are pros rock it out with the best, but keep one foot in punk and play with a lot of veterans like Paul Collins Beat and other punk legends on tour. Playing with your influences never hurts and they’re keeping up with them in the process with songs like The Cat the Mouse and The Dog in Between with its infectious bombast, and Pink House with its mainstream inclinations.

You’ll like the way the guitars and horns blend together seamlessly on Curami with its instrumental backing track sporting a vocal chant that is nearly tribal as long as you like variety and punk, that is. But it makes for an interesting twist with a bunch of cool-jazz atmosphere. It’s one of the high points on offer and runs a minute or so longer than most of the others to clearly stand apart. If I had to choose one track it would be my pick of the crop. The production is spot on and there really aren’t any critical points if you’re reaching for the explicit, but it won’t shock you if you’re not.

If you enjoyed a preview from Round Eye, check out their official website by clicking here & give them a like on Facebook by clicking here.

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