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

Leave a Comment 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by: on July 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm


The Oscillating Fan Club, Feverish Dreams As Told By… (Loco Gnosis, 2008)

MP3: “Party Hat”

Just when you thought Detroit’s rock underbelly was done cooking up inspirational and original jams (we’re talking the likes of Wildcatting, Prussia, and Dutch Pink), the Oscillating Fan Club‘s Feverish Dreams As Told By… comes along and drops a massive and awesome surf-influenced psyche-rock bomb directly on our heads. Formed in 2004 by high school chums Ray Thompson and Pierce Reynolds, the OFC came together over a joint love for 1960s Brit-pop and the more experimental sounds of string wranglers like Sonic Youth and Television. After kicking around for a few years — releasing one EP entitled Beatles Catting Wildly for local-indie force Loco Gnosis in August of 2007 — the OFC have honed their influences, and the result is this 16-song strong monster of an album. Rowdy tracks like “My Grave Face” may nod to the Pixies, and “Suburban Lovers of the Dead” would appeal to anybody looking for a perfect modern combo of Tapes ‘n Tapes’ quirk and the Shins at their most amped up, but mostly, these dudes are digging on some different shit all together. While other groups waste their time searching for the perfect pop moment, or perhaps beating a dead horse, the OFC are busy digesting and regurgitating reverb-drenched surfedelia (“Party Hat”), Eastern European-style guitar skronk (“7 Nights in Khartoum”), and space-aged bachelor pad inspired instrumentals (“Acoustic Jellyfish”) — all flanked by moments of psyche-rock brilliance that wouldn’t be out of place on Olivia Tremor Control’s classic Black Foliage album. It’s the kind of stuff that would make Thurston Moore, Frank Black, and local psyche-pop hero Matthew Smith (of Outrageous Cherry) freak out with enthusiastic glee. Plus, these guys put on a live show that is as unpredictable and unhinged as the directions they choose to take on Feverish Dreams; a winning combination, if you ask us. Score another one for Detroit’s new school of weird. — Ryan Allen

The Oscillating Fan Club’s Record Release Party, w/ Zoos of Berlin + Kindle • 8/2 • The C.A.I.D.

Leave a Comment 

Tags: , , , , , ,

SHWFLYR

  • Recent Posts

  • Tags

  • Archives