Mauno Rough Master
(Self – August 19, 2015)
(Indie Rock, Experimental, Folk)
Review by Rob Leonard
Mauno is a masculine name of Finnish origin meaning ‘great’. Whether or not this is the intention behind Halifax’s Mauno or not, the label rings true. Fronted by Nick Everett, a busy musician with previous folk leanings in the realm of Andrew Bird, Mauno pushes forward with interestingly arranged, guitar driven indie rock – somewhat of an endangered species until Real Estate’s Days, released in 2011. The beauty of Rough Master is in it’s no thrills, no antics approach. Here Mauno embraces their ability to create intricate but understandable arrangements with the instruments they know best. The album is the final culmination of songs that have been worked on and released since the beginning of 2015, most notably the improved mixing of “nothing,” the albums stand out track.
Rough Master starts off with a vision more akin to experimentation and delineation from straight forward song writing – although nothing out of the ordinary. “reeling” opens Rough as the albums longest track, it beautifully showcases Everett’s soft and melodic voice – then in an instant there is a left turn into plush territory of boisterous drums and crooning lyrics. “manitoba” is the more memorable instrumental of the album as it slowly ascends into a faster and faster pace with a noise overlay that breeds chaos and flows directly into “nothing,” “nothing” gives off a house filled with carbon monoxide vibe, with it’s sluggish swampy rhythmic section – subsequently it is Rough Master‘s stand out track. There was no better option for a “nothing” follow up like “burn this” – “burn this” features Eliza Niemi on vocals, the drone-y pulse and her mysterious voice employs a delectable and unforgettable stoner rock vibe to carry out the title’s implied message. Rough Master‘s only issue is including the out of place tracks “champs” and “benny” – “champs” seems to be a carry over from Everett’s folk projects and “benny” plays a little too close to a Local Native’s b-side. Neither tracks are horrible but they do contrast heavily with an album that is both approachable and subtly experimental.