Posted by: on September 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

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

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Posted by: on June 24, 2008 at 10:00 am


They wowed just about everybody at Rock City a few weeks ago, and now the “on disc” version of Mason Proper is set to produce poo in the pants of just about every blogger, rocker, and blocker in town, with the release of Olly Oxen Free. Cool dudes that they are, two Oxen Free tracks — “Safe For the Time Being” and Read more

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