Round Eye – Monstervision
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. Along with blazing a trail all over the globe they’ve played host to visiting western punks and some legends as well sharing stages with acts such as The Fleshtones, MDC, Mike Watt + The Missingmen, D.O.A., The FUs, The Boys (UK), Paul Collins Beat, M.O.T.O., Ceremony, and Iceage. During a mainland tour of China with UK punk legends The Boys, they were forced to literally move the tour underground after being banned by the Ministry of Culture for lewd artwork on a tour poster. But that hasn’t stopped them from forging on, and Monstervision show it in every way. There is no holding back with the addition of John Bloom from The Daily Show to add to the laughter and royal ranting of the concept and subject matter that goes from politics to reality TV and beyond.
This is a band that are just as witty about their general complaints as they are whiney, and it only adds to the quality of the music. These are not your average chants, they’re properly constructed songs with a message but not a boring one that stroked with drama and theatrics. It has much that rock ‘n roll is lacking, without trying to be straight-forward about it. And Joe Bob Briggs is the funny commentator keeping it zany and entertaining around the adventurous upbeat songs. Not all will get it but some will not only be fulfilled with the music but the lyrics too. As they somehow keep from going completely over the edge without appalling the general-public ears. This is never easy but they do it with pure effortlessness. To explain a little of that it starts right off with “Commie Blues” which could be offensive to anyone reading it, and even make them not want to even listen, but they obviously make no such compromises and you’ve got to admire that. They’re not as underground as it seems in their musical flexibility, but what’s punk anymore but a lot of things it never was. And Joe Bob Briggs keeps it together with between-song comedy and remarks that also don’t bring the overall mass appeal down any. It just takes one listen and you want to stay inside the Monstervision screen and gaze out from the inside. You get the feeling you are part of the show, and that’s why it works. With “Billy” Sifter” and “Troma” to also be found on video, they move the show along in swift fashion with at least two of them standing out in the track list. These are by no means mellow or soothing, but rather high energy with moments of brilliance. But they’re also short to make way for what are essentially eleven tracks with various hilarious spoken word and commercial introductions. Then there is “Hey Dudes” which starts to slow it down a little, but it takes you way to the high-school prom and stops off at the club on the way. It has all kinds of ways to relate how the country is in a nose dive, and the establishment are media controlled.
This song is kind of personal about the downside of the media. But if that isn’t enough, they win big points on “Pink House” with a song they can be proud of. And I can’t help but wonder now that I’m hearing Round Eye, just what it has been like on the local level for this band in China. And that only adds some interesting mystique to what is already a musical enigma of sorts on the well written and produced Monstervision.