Essential New Music: Round Eye’s “Monster Vision”

The musician credits on the album cover of Monster Vision are aliases. It’s fitting for a band based in Shanghai, where you get jailed if you sing the wrong word. Round Eye is a quintet of American expats living and working in China, and they take delight in their anti-establishment stance. The music is a mashup early R&B, surf, free jazz and ’80s hardcore played at a volume that drives their anti-authoritarian lyrics into your brain. The pounding punk of “Troma” depicts the rage against society that leads to a self-destructive frenzy, portrayed by the dissonant collision of distorted guitars and processed saxophones that end the track. Rock meets free jazz on “Pink House,” a rant that likens America’s political system to a party in a bordello. Sudden Death closes with “Be That As It May (Crinkle),” a screaming, Hendrix-like guitar excursion that looks death in the face to spit in its eye.

j. poet