Monstervision was recorded by Li Wei Yu & PK 14’s Yang Haisong, narrated by former The Daily Show comedian John Bloom (Joe Bob Briggs), and is the last recordings laid to wax of the late great Steve Mackay who left behind a body of work and goes out in style on the humorously uplifting but deadly serious and controversial album. If you can get past that and enjoy the music that is great, and if you can handle both, then there is much to eat up from this band out of Shanghai. If you’re not familiar with them, now’s the time because this does the business, and if you are already into them, it should please.

It might even be a step up in all departments to pull off an epic punk rock showing, or it could just be a grand effort to keep up that standard. Whichever really isn’t the point, but if it is any departure it’s likely a stark one. It just doesn’t seem like this could be a step backward for Round Eye, let’s put it that way. But the proof is always in the pudding, and commentator Joe Bob Briggs(played by John Bloom) kicks off Monstervision with some narration before “Commie Blues” cracks your head open with power and energy. It starts the mood off right by getting the most controversial track title out of the way. And from this juncture forth it has all the fun in the world.

You don’t want to get too much wind of Joe Bob Briggs on paper, he’s better heard than described. But rolling through the next few tracks, you get to hear back from him more often, than not, through the rest of it. Let the album play him out with the music to get both sides of the ticket. It is music after all, and more than most punk can come up with lately. Not that there isn’t a strong underground market for it with acts like Round Eye touring up the globe, but it’s still not music normally designed to tickle the masses unless you’re a Ramone or Blondie. This is of a harder variety, with the thrashabillies of the day. Such evidence can be an exception on “Hey Dudes” with its urban feel and more pop sensibilities, but it’s all meant to heal as well as entertain and lyrically inform. And if you don’t have fi=un with this, there’s really nothing on here for you. But how anyone could listen to it and not hear something to enjoy is not easy to imagine. As this is more like it from the previous four pieces of music. But they are all different in one way or another, it’s just that there is some threading to follow on this album. Not’s not tightly weaved but at the same time it is between the music, lyrics and how the vocals are delivered.

If that’s not enough they take you to the deep end of the culture pool on “Pink House” and it’s even more musically interesting than the previous track. The peaking point of the craft shows hardest in this track, but it’s not necessarily the most enjoyable. It reaches into adult contemporary for what it’s worth, and shows the kids how to vent and aspire to a mature level of it. But that just could be the old punk rocker in me, able to grow with the blending trends. Different strokes for different folks, as with the rest of the vision that is of monster proportion. They have my attention, after making the noise from China to this far away land.



Elvin Graham