Hailing from northern Michigan, Mason Proper creates straight up experimental indie pop. This group of quirky hipsters has, if nothing else, a great time making guitar- and keyboard-driven angular pop, which sounds a lot more Lower East Side or Montreal than the Upper Peninsula. They've been making a name for themselves throughout the Midwest (and have played some shows in New York, where they found their label Dovecote Records) and contacted me a few months back through MySpace. I caught their show in Chicago at Double Door some time before the holidays and was definitely impressed. Lead singer Jonathan Visgr, who offstage was mellow, friendly and engaging, exploded during the live performance. Like a hipster Dieter, he bounced, writhed and caused a serious ruckus. But it all fits with the band's wild sound. They self-produced the original version of its debut, There Is a Moth in Your Chest, but worked with John O'Mahoney (Matt Pond, Emily Haines, Metric) to create a cleaner, more cohesive set for its Dovecote release on March 13. When I first checked them out on MySpace, one song, "My My (Bad Fruit)," one of the of the heavier tracks on the album, had a much more experimental noise pop aspect (think Montreal's Les Georges Leningrad or AIDS Wolf). While it's still heavy, it's cleaned up and tighter with more melody. Now it is reminiscent of early Jane's Addiction in terms of its screechy edginess while leaning toward a harder indie essence. This is contrasted by the theatrical "Chemical Dress Eliza," with its punchy lyrics and Cure-like bravado or the "Rock Lobster" like guitar riff of Mr. Charm (which also sounds, funnily enough, like the guitars in the earliest version of the MTV theme song -- think back to the astronaut landing and planting the flag in the moon on MTV commercials in the early '80s).
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