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Round Eye, the experimental 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 punk rock.

Along with blazing a gnarly trail all over the globe (USA, Mexico, S. Korea, Japan) they’ve toured the mainland of China a number of times and have played host to visiting western groups and some legends as well.
Now, they have signed to Canadian label Sudden Death Records.

stga logo Round Eye, a band from Shanghai, plays some of the most insane experiment sax-laden punk music ever. That in mind, it was a surprise to me they weren’t ever black bagged or something. Truth be told, if they had an obscene political agenda, they’d probably be shut down in a similar manner to Russia’s Pussy Riot. That is to say, Round Eye is absolutely nuts. They pack each song with wicked saxophone lines, spine chilling vocals, maddening guitar riffs, haunting bass lines, and menacing drums. And the unsurprising catch to it all –For a period of time Round Eye was banned from playing live shows –of course China’s Ministry of Culture blamed it all on “crowd control issues.” There really is no proper way to introduce Round Eye than letting their own reputation and history speak for itself. The band is truly something else. This review isn’t about Round Eye’s reputation though –it’s about their debut, self-titled album. Soon it will become clear, Round Eye’s Round Eye delivers.

Horns, guitars, drums, free-jazz or rock, maybe punk –Round Eye is a bedlam of instruments and style. The album is like putting some ice, a few strawberries, a little bit of cream, and a goldfish in a blender, leaving the top off, and pressing the button associated with unleashing the most hell. The energy of the music is vigorous and relentless. There is not a boring moment in Round Eye’s debut.

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Rating: 10.0/10

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Truly bizarre piece of music here from Shanghai’s Round Eye, who mash all sorts of styles together and delight at its awkwardness. I suppose the closest genre I could sneak them into is “punk”, but they forego punk rock’s aesthetic for large stretches of their self-titled debut. Instead, you might get a backwards-panned kraut-esque freakout, some carnival jazz not unlike Barnacled (or even Gogol Bordello), heavy streaks of noise-rock ala Melvins or some sort of made-up improvisation that recalls an amateur Magma. It’s as confusing to me while I explain it as it is you reading my explanation, trust me. Multiple tracks have sequels (see “Street Light A” and “Street Light B”, or “HeSheRoshima” A through C), but then there’s also a song squeezed in here titled, and I quote, “You Can Tell That She’s A Dud Lay By The Fact She Has A Photo Of Her Nephew As The Background On Her Phone.”. Sheesh. They’ll end a Can-esque smoke session with a throbbing trombone and think nothing of it, almost daring you to keep listening. Were there any funky breaks or harsh noise bursts, I’d liken Round Eye to The Boredoms, but those are two of the few sounds they aren’t working with. I can’t tell if Round Eye are authentically freaks, or if they just tried so hard to be freaky that the accidentally became true freaks, but regardless of their journey, they’ve arrived at their destination.

hellboundWow. A band grabbing listeners and shaking them by the head just to see the confused look on their faces isn’t a particularly common occurrence anymore (the Mothers Of Invention used to do it, Butthole Surfers were really good at it, Flaming Lips have had some great moments in the mindfuck field too), but no one in the world could hear Round Eye‘s self-titled album without recoiling back in reflex, like someone just shouted in their ear. It’s chaotic, it’s loud and it’s weird; it’s unruly and it sounds nothing like anything you’ve heard before, reader – I promise.

Read the full review here

soundcloud Logo FontRound Eye, the experimental 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 punk rock. Along with blazing a gnarly trail all over the globe (USA, Mexico, S. Korea, Japan) they’ve toured the mainland of China a number of times and have played host to visiting western groups and some legends as well.

They’ve shared stages with western groups such as D.O.A., The FUs, Paul Collins Beat, M.O.T.O., Ceremony, and Iceage, eastern groups such as P.K.14,SMZB and Misandao and have been banned from performing on the mainland by the Ministry of Culture during a tour with UK punk legends The Boys (as a result the tour was forced to literally go underground where they held the secret gigs in bomb shelters around the country). The ban lasted only the duration of the tour and was assigned due to “crowd control issues” following the tragic Shanghai band stampede, a controversial tour poster, and reports of Round Eye’s lewd stage antics.

They’ve won the “Best Local Band” title from Shanghai’s City Weekend magazine two years in a row. They’ve released two music videos (one starring famed Chinese actress Wang Lin) and honed their unconventional blend of 50s R&B and Punk with a critically acclaimed EP “Full Circle” on Ripping/Genjing Records which featured Greg Ginn (Black Flag) and have drawn comparisons to the Stooges, Dr. Feelgood and The Fall. Currently, they are set to drop their eponymous LP Round Eye which features saxophonist Steve Mackay (Stooges/Violent Femmes) andR. Stevie Moore in June with a tour of the US with Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes set to begin in July to promote it.

punknewsA lot of bands think that they're wild dudes because they have a song or two about hating cops. Well, if the members of Round Eye say the wrong thing, they might get carried away in the night and be never heard from again.

A group composed of five white dudes living in the orient, Round Eye combine the explosively zaniness of early rock and roll with the danger and nastiness of early 80s punk. Still in their first year, the band have toured all over mainland China, bringing a bit of the west to other expats as well as showing a new culture to young Chinese people

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Punk OnlineIf there’s a lasting legacy of punk rock music, it surely has to be how the music and philosophy has influenced millions of people around the world to think for themselves. Many have gone onto form bands and try to become the influencers themselves.

This morning, the good folks at Punkonline Towers received a link to the debut L.P. from self described “freak punk” band, Round Eye who hail from Shanghai.

The band have toured all over the world including mainland China on a number of occasions and have been banned by the Ministry of Culture whilst on one tour with British band, The Boys (apparently some “stage antics” coupled with an offensive tour poster and ‘crowd control issues” offended the powers that be).

On their eponymously named first album we are treated to an opening chunky guitar riff that is interrupted by some free flowing saxophone that introduces us immediately to something different. Track 2 of the 17 on the album is the excellent ‘Street Light A’ which again adds saxophone to a more traditional punk riff and beat…I am reminded of the Cravats meets Captain Beefheart before the vocals come in…there is certainly a feeling of chaos and you can appreciate why they have won the “Best local band” title from Shanghai’s City Weekend magazine two years in a row.

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Shanghaiist logoThe go to place for live reviews in the expat crowd performed a Q&A with RoundEye see what they had to say here