There can have been few times in recent history that being in an angry, political punk band (or trap or grime or folk for that matter) has made so much sense, what with multiple countries’ incompetent handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, the murder of George Floyd sparking Black Lives Matter protests around the globe and the inequalities in society becoming ever-increasingly evident. It seems that every time I switch the news on or flick through my social media feed there’s something new worth shouting about, and yesterday’s was the imposition of new ‘security’ laws on Hong Kong by the Chinese government designed to quell the political protests that brought more than a million people onto the streets in 2019, once again bringing human rights abuses and the strict controls on free speech in the world’s most populous country into sharp focus. It would be fair to say that the average Briton has little idea of what life is like within Xi’s China, so thankfully we have Shanghai-based punks Round Eye to give us a glimpse with their forthcoming LP Culture Shock Treatment, which takes aim at The People’s Republic and oppressive ‘strong man’ leaders across the globe, and does not hold back.
Produced by Minutemen’s Mike Watt, it’s a breakneck collision of punk, free jazz and 50s r&b that wears its contempt on the outside. We asked the band to take us through the album track by track.
- Culture Shock Treatment
Constant bombardment of Chinese Communist Party propaganda while phoning home to find that your country is on fire and an orange clown is sancing in the flames being fanned by a cuddly pant-less bear in a red shirt being ridden by a shirtless Putin is enough to make curds out of anybody’s brains.
There’s nothing you can do to make sense of any this. Let the weird in?
Battle cry for Hong Kong. The term “smokestacking” taken from the Richard McKenna novel The Sand Pebbles where a sailor with a gripe goes aft to discreetly blow off some steam but get enough sailors smokestaking at once and you got a mutiny or a rebellion ready to take place.
Can’t leave the far right chicken fried covid crusaders of the United States out of this completely so here are our footnotes on the current state of the American Dream. We covered most of the western crazy with our last album Monstervision so let’s just call this a “by the way”.
- 5,000 Years
You’d think a society as old as China’s would understand and master humility, peace, and understanding to Star Trek levels after so long a time but here we are with fear, suspicion, complete abandon of the individual and its rights with a hefty dose of blind nationalism and pornographic capitalism. The only thing that’s progressed is the technology of surveillance and oppression. At least we still got a Starbucks and KFC on the Great Wall of China.
- The Foreigner
No matter what you do , no matter what you say, you’ll never ever belong. Here’s your reminder.
- Armadillo Man
This world is a fucking toilet. Shit or trot from the squat.
Talk minus action = 0. Grow some fucking balls.
If you don’t dig on some Beefheart, go jump in a lake.
- Red Crimes
A “Dear Jane” letter to the sweet red motherland
- Catatonic (I’m Not A Communist)
The state my mind is rendered to when I hear ‘Me and My Motherland’ for the 1,000th time on the subway to work. Same thing happens when I hear virtually any contemporary American country song in the states.
- An Opportunity of a Lifetime
Not gonna deny that. China in many ways has been very good to us but that goodness comes with a very heavy price.
The work song of a broken mind desperate to put itself back together.
- Uomo Moderno
Fucked trappings of the 21st century man sung in zesty Italian.
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Ever see the movie with Sidney Poitier and Kat Hepburn? That shit happens here all the time. Our sax player Mac can attest with this true story song.
- You’re So Fucking Cool
All the rich punked out hipster lame asses come from Beijing but aren’t really from Beijing then say their scene is the best and coolest in the whole wide world for a couple years then move to another city, get married, get fat, dress up, become DJs and hate on Beijing
- Endless Sleep
Jody Reynolds drugged up on special K and baijiu.
Culture Shock Treatment is released on 3rd July via Paper + Plastick Records, you can pre-save on your preferred streaming service here.
Introduction by Paul Maps