by Craig Short
Mauno is going to be the next big thing, at least if I have anything to say about it. The Canadian indie rock band hailing from the sleepy hamlet of Halifax has slowly been making a name for itself over the last few years, releasing two albums, touring Europe with Chad VanGaalen, playing SXSW, and making some of the most inventive, surprising, and quite honestly illuminating music that you’ll hear all year.
There are precious few glimmers of information on this band scattered around the Internet, but from what I’ve gathered, the four members of Mauno sound like really interesting people. Backstories include breakdancing, competitive baseball, and a resolutely un-musical grandfather after whom the band is named. Somehow these people combined into the incredibly talented band we see today, and I want to be their friends so badly. Hopefully someday we’ll see them on Conan and get to know their deepest secrets on live television. But for now, I’ll take what information I can get.
Let’s talk music, though. Mauno traffics in a unique and riveting brand of intricate, stop-start indie rock. Each song is like small, carefully considered clockwork device. The parts are precise, the instruments working perfectly in tandem, but the overall effect is never quite what you expect. Verse-chorus song structures? They’ve never heard of ‘em. They write naturally flowing cascades of ideas, rendered in crunchy guitar tones and thumping drums. Singers Nick Everett and Eliza Niemi are also founts of unpredictability. They flip between sultry, indistinct murmurs and clear, poignantly meaningful nuggets of poetry with ease. The best part is, it never seems to get old. They keep the curveballs coming at just the right frequency, dwelling on each riff just long enough to satiate you before sweeping you off to the next adventure. This is not to say that their music isn’t catchy as well. They can get a melody stuck in your head just by repeating it once or twice, and nothing more.
Brevity is perhaps their most potent weapon. So far, after two albums, they have a released a total of three songs that are longer than three minutes. And it works. The ideas behind their music are equally compelling. Their debut, Rough Master, explored the limitations of a physical medium like tape and how simply finding a way to store sound alters it in remarkable ways. Even if it doesn’t necessarily come through clearly in the songs themselves, it’s an interesting concept, and you can tell that Nick Everett is always thinking about new ways to make his music remarkable. Their latest record, Tuning, uses samples and recordings of Mauno’s physical surroundings to give the music a sense of place and belonging. Whether that’s the beeping of a cash register or the toll of a bell in Germany, little philosophical touches like those make Mauno’s music more than just a collection of songs. These fine young Canadians are pushing boundaries, making music that is somehow deeply comforting and infinitely surprising all at once.