From the Vault: Mason Proper – Olly Oxen Free

Posted by Greg on Dec 21, 2022 in Music |

As my wife and I continue the process of decluttering and getting a nursery ready (babies are due end of April, EEEEEEEEEP!) it is time to once again purge and rid myself of all the thousands of CDs I’ve amassed over the last three decades. Today’s jog down memory lane was 2009’s Olly Oxen Free from Michigan-by-way-of-Brooklyn, NY’s Mason Proper.

Surpisingly this album still holds up well. None of it feels dated, all of it feels current. The nuanced guitar work and nimble rhythms are still as memorable as 14 years ago. Ditto for Jonathan Visger’s reedy croon. Perhaps the only surprise with this listen is that “Lock and Key” which I once played for three weeks straight does not hold up nearly as well as a banger. On the contrary album opener track “Fog” , its sucessor “Point A to Point B” and latter album track “Downpour” are the ones that rise to the occasion. And yet on this morning’s revisit closing track “Safe For the Time Being” stands out as most memorable and almost feels tailor-made for 2022. In the end, maybe that’s the beauty of music. What spoke to you once now no longer does, what once was filler now has a permanent place in your mind and soul.

Sadly, Olly Oxen Free served as the band’s swan song, but thankfully Visger continues making music. His solo project, Absofacto, continues to churn out quality song after quality song and has amassed a following of more than a million listeners on Spotify. He signed to Atlantic Records in 2015 and his song “Dissolve” released in 2018 has gone Platinum thanks to a timely Tik-Tok video featuring that song. Absofacto has to date collaborated with the likes of Marian Hill, The Knocks, BROODS, InTheShift, JBroadway and most impressively Blink 182. His recent single “Vibe Til I Die” is a club banger that might be one of the better song we’ve heard this year. If that’s not enough Visger for you he also fronted a project called Hollow + Akimbo with former Mason Proper bandmate Brian Konicek, though they have not released anything new since 2014.


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