Libyan Hit Squad / Round Eye
East meets west in this split LP from Florida’s Libyan Hit Squad and China’s Round Eye. The Hit Squad does our shores proud with a thick, frenetic tapestry of punk that owes as much to Mission of Burma’s emotionally-charged dissonance as it does to more aggro pavement pounders like the Descendents or Black Flag. Speaking of those heralded giants of thine famed four bars, reclusive Flag guitarist Greg Ginn makes a surprise and surprisingly good appearance with LHS on Full Circle’s math rocky title track. Ginn’s fussy, disintegrating solos are instantly recognizable but don’t distract from the ability of the lesser-known players. The Libyans are just as talented/dynamic as their apparent influences for sure, enough so that I will not disparage either them or Ginn by joking about donations to the latter’s feline rescue charities.
Jazzier in approach (they have actual brass!) but no less busy is Round Eye who hook the listener in with the coy swingin’ fun of their eponymous introductory cut. The horns this outfit employs suggest an artier, more deconstructive approach, but that could be my misinterpretation as a result of listening to too many Stooges records. Round Eye certainly could have hits in the affecting doo-wop slog “I’m So Young” or the jittery open wound “Kenting”; the real joy, however, comes when the band cuts loose on a detuned party mess like “Carne Seca.” The vocals on that sexy entry could merely be a recording of drunken revelers at a twilight rooftop shindig, but the carnal undercurrent works in any setting.
FINAL SCORE: Three and a half multi-colored dragons (out of four).
Check out my Crawdaddy!-approved Ron Asheton eulogy. Here’s a sample for the discriminate link clicker:
I remember hearing ‘No Fun’ for the first time on the house sound at Side One Records, the hippest record shop in all of Volusia County, one otherwise stupid afternoon during my freshman year of college. It made me want to put on the darkest sunglasses I could find, clap my hands, and nod my head with my mouth open like a mental patient whacked out on rhino tranquilizers. It was that good. This vinyl copy of The Stooges was priced at $15—I think it was some kind of collector’s item because Dave Alexander had farted on it or some shit. I wasn’t about to pay that, but the cavalier soul of ‘No Fun’ stuck with me. How could it not? That riff was, as a Vermont hippie might say, so crunchy.”
If the Flower Children did anything right, it was appropriating “crunchy” for adjective use outside the food world. Thank you, filthy jerks.