Thursday, May 18, 2017

Round Eye – Monstervision

Round Eye – Monstervision 

Round Eye come to the world from Shanghai, China, with their second release, the full-length Monstervision. They’ve played numerous festivals around the world and honed their unconventional blend of 50s R&B, Free Jazz and Punk. They go even harder on this album, incorporating even more styles to get their message across to the world, which took some time re-developing in the underground. But it comes to the surface where it will boil into another, but without Steve Mackay on sax. So, they’re growing and this is a big sign of their impressive work ethic and progress.

On Sudden Death Records in Vancouver, BC, they have a beast to unleash. This is a band that have been compared to The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, Dr. Feelgood and The Fall. But there is no use seeing them as anything but their own brand of sax-fused punk, leaving the past behind them but keeping one foot in its best memories. That is where influences like the 50s come into their style, also where it crosses with traditional R&B factors. These aren’t always punk friendly but there have been major exceptions to the rule, TRHCP being a strong example. If Round Eye cross those wider barriers for the better, so be it.  You get all they’re putting out there with no punches pulled, but a big sound to most of it, recorded by Li Wei Yu & PK 14’s Yang Haisong. This isn’t something you ponder in the post-punk scene. You either want a glossy sound or you don’t, and there are a couple of rough aspects but it’s necessary on those tracks. This isn’t an attempt to call any over production, it’s worth mentioning that the recording is of the same integrity as the music, both of which are high standard. They brought along US comedian John Bloom to play the part of Joe Bob Briggs to narrate the album like a weekend radio program. This adds to the proceedings without interfering with the songs.

Having never heard anything like that on a punk album before, it gets a plus for its shiny object value. He gets the program going with some introduction and they open with “Commie Blues” which although it is appropriate for Round Eye’s aim, it falls more in the least compelling of songs they came up with. It gets more creative as it gets more aggressive though, and the rest forgives what could’ve been a better choice to lead off with. But Round Eye have something to say on every track, so, don’t let anything you read stop them. On “Hey Dudes” and “Pink House” they hit some adult contemporary notes that put them in their own punk class. These are some magnificent studio performance moments, surrounded by some less clinical but more on point songs that Joe Bob Briggs barely gets his often-funny words in edge-wise.  But it’s not that serious in theory when you’re just rocking and rolling in your own way, without making ten minute songs and breaking all the punk rock rules. There isn’t an abundance of aesthetics about Round Eye, they’re more gut-level but perhaps they’re a cut above on Monstervision. Just check out tracks like “Richie” “Curami” and “Sifter” for all of the combined elements on this burning full-length LP. They may have a long way to go, but they don’t come untraveled.


Mike Tabor

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