Mason Proper, Olly Oxen Free (Dovecote Records, 2008)
MP3: “Lock and Key”
If there was ever a tactful way to tell someone to “shove it,” Mason Proper has figured it out: with smarmy lyrics over a crisp guitar and dissonant piano. Said shoving all happens three songs in, on the killer “Lock and Key” — just one of the many standouts on Olly Oxen Free, the Ann Arbor quartet’s second full-length effort. Elsewhere, singer/contortionist Jonathan Visger’s morbid fascination with disassembling body parts is as rabid as ever, and tracks like “Out Dragging the River” (re: “Friendship” from the Shorthand EP) show his freaky lyrics continuing to leave a lot to the imagination. Throughout Olly Oxen Free, Visger and the rest of the Mason Proper boys get their freak on — going from a light sprinkle to a downpour to a monsoon and back again within the same song. But instead of going off the deep end, they get the weird out in more subtle ways, choosing not to let their inherent creepiness overshadow their knack for writing catchy tunes — other key tracks “Point A to Point B” and “Only a Moment” amongst them. Indeed, just as “when all else fails, get crazy” seemed an occasional go-to move on 2007’s There Is a Moth In Your Chest, the arrangements are scaled-back this time around, revealing a finely chiseled sculpture that is sure to become a permanent fixture on the Mitten’s indie-rock mantle. So compare all you like — yeah, you’ll hear some Radiohead, some Pixies, hell, maybe a little Grandaddy or even a less wacky version of the Dismemberment Plan. Regardless, Olly Oxen Free is a big, meaty, and, at times, tactfully restrained effort from one of Michigan’s most underrated, and perhaps best, bands. — Elle Sawa
By Paul Serilla
Much has been said about Lollapalooza, so we’ll save you a lot of sweaty (though fully enriched with electrolytes) details of set lists and stage banter. But we will say that it’s a pretty well oiled machine; logistically speaking it is something to behold. While it feels like a bare minimum that acts go on when scheduled, trash gets picked up, Porta Johns aren’t overwhelmed, decent food is available for $5 or $10, and the beer flows freely through manageable lines from open to close, it’s still impressive and adds immensely to any attempt to enjoy the festivities.
In a scant few years, it feels like Lollapalooza has taken on the persona of its permanent home in the Windy City of Chicago. Lolla has a pleasant pulse with Gen-X-er’s in Threadless shirts and punks mingling with a few of the NPR tote-bag set; folks who certainly could be their parents. If you were to raise a complaint, you’d probably point towards a shadow of the old Midwest homogeneity cast over the proceedings, but it’s not overwhelming.
Apart from the bro-on-bro violence/foreplay that reportedly caused Rage Against the Machine to halt their set in an attempt to get their fans to do what they told them, the festival was largely well mannered and free of the large scale distractions; ones that make for good war stories, but are pretty irritating in the moment of the heat.
While we weren’t as laid back as the festival-mandated hacky-sack players, we made little attempt to race from one end to the other just to notch yet another band on our belts. We were even accused by some fellow concertgoers via text of being on our couches back home. Of course, as our only contact with Continue reading “Alternate Thoughts On Lollapalooza”
Anyone familiar with early-career shredders like Nook and 12 may have been slightly shocked when the Notwist — Germany’s Radiohead? — moved toward more electronic landscapes on 1998’s Shrink and 2002’s Neon Golden. But, that’s the plus side to being a band on the fringe: You can change your sound whenever it
The Notwist, The Devil, You + Me (Domino Records, 2008)
Anyone familiar with early-career shredders like Nook and 12 may have been slightly shocked when the Notwist — Germany’s Radiohead? — moved toward more electronic landscapes on 1998’s Shrink and 2002’s Neon Golden. But, that’s the plus side to being a band on the fringe: You can change your sound whenever it Continue reading “The Notwist Mellow Out, Still German”
Rock is not dead, even though the recent surge of blog-tronica on the Internets would have you think otherwise. Low Vs Diamond, a Los Angeles-based outfit, is well aware of this, and makes it a high priority to prove in their self-titled debut. Trite though it may be, Low Vs Diamond is a record that really, really
Love Vs Diamond, S/T (Epic Records, 2008)
Listen: “This Is Your Life”
Rock is not dead, even though the recent surge of blog-tronica on the Internets would have you think otherwise. Low Vs Diamond, a Los Angeles-based outfit, is well aware of this, and makes it a high priority to prove in their self-titled debut. Trite though it may be, Low Vs Diamond is a record that really, really Continue reading “New Record: Low Vs Diamond”