Pulling together influences from all over the music spectrum, from Bill Withers to the Arctic Monkeys and Rex Orange County, MR NO has developed a sound that is distinctive yet accessible, evident on their debut EP, NO.1. MR NO is the brainchild of Jason Vance, with Ethan Rubin (guitar), Josh Dreben (bass), and Nadiv Lev (drums).
NO. 1, largely recorded in Vance’s bedroom, is a synthesis of the band’s edginess combined with Vance’s sensitive and introspective songwriting; Written almost entirely by Vance, this record is a surprisingly self-aware narration of Vance’s own experiences with first love, both in subject matter and music. Written after an intense phone call with his now ex girlfriend, “Not Even Gone” is about the ripping sense of isolation he felt from the person he once felt so close to, but felt more and more emotionally distant.
Psychologically, these feelings come to a head on “Lovely Jean,” where Vance unearths the root of the problem, first exposing the reason for his emotions, and later when he reconciles them. The melody of Lovely Jean came to Vance after watching an interview with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson in which he described “Hunnybee,” a track off of the band’s latest album. Based off of Nielson’s description of the song, Vance began humming what he predicted the song sounded like. While nothing close to the actual song, the new melody wouldn’t leave his head, so he wrote a chord progression to complement it. After performing it several times, the band added the outro: a grunge-filled fiery explosion that parallels the subject matter and resolves not only the song, but the EP as a whole; it’s the final piece that just allows him-- and the listener-- to move on.