| There’s a Lot in Here is the lovely latest CD/DVD from Jonah Matranga of onelinedrawing/Far fame. I first listened to the CD last week, in the car with my boyfriend while driving down a dark and sharply curving highway with barely any gas. The impact that the experience had on me was absolutely amazing. Because all of the tracks are performed live before an insanely energetic audience, it was like we were right in front of him too. The audience cheers and applauds crazily before and after every song, and sometimes Jonah will explain the background or inspiration of the song he’s about to play, which you definitely don’t get on regular albums. He’ll also occasionally go on little rants about being happy while tuning his guitar, or stop altogether to preach for a few minutes or acknowledge the enthusiasm of a guy in the back of the room. The overall effect is an incredible sense of raw, very emotional authenticity.
The first six tracks are performed solo, with a tape recorder as the only accompaniment. Some of the songs have already been released on previous albums, but if it was your first time hearing any of them, as it was mine, I think you’ll appreciate them having heard them live first. For some bands/songs that isn’t the case, but for Jonah is certainly is. Especially with the little talks and comments between songs and lines, you really get a sense of what kind of a person he is, which in turn gives so much insight to what it must be like to feel the emotions he feels when he writes and performs. “These dreams will raise you up…” he sings at the very beginning of the album (“Livin’ Small”), then pauses to tell the audience, “Thanks for being here. It’s really nice. It feels really, really good. Really, really, really, really good, actually.” The tape recorder comes into play in “Bitte Ein Kuss,” supplying gorgeous strings to back up Jonah’s guitar and voice. The vocals can really only described as a mix between John Nolan-esque melodic growl-singing and that peculiar array of emotions that make fourteen-year-olds want to rabidly type “<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3!!!”
“This song’s about being miserable,” he says darkly at the beginning of his rant before one of my favorites, “Smile.” If the song itself doesn’t make you start tapping a foot or keeping the beat with your hands on something nearby, the wonderful solo about two minutes in will. (Emo Game enthusiasts will understand.) “Jul00 (Never Run)” is sweet, soft, and simple… so beautiful that you’ll want to yell at anyone or anything that interrupts it (as I discovered firsthand).
The second half of the CD is performed with a band, which is different but certainly no better or worse than pure Jonah. The opening track is catchy and sweet like nobody’s business. I found myself singing the chorus under my breath for the next few days: “Hey A-L-L-Y-S-O-N, can we do it, do it A-G-A-I-N?” I love his commentary in this one too… “That verse goes out to, to the, to the, to the bartender. Her name’s Anne.” “Lukewarm” is another one of my favorites. Just listen, because I don’t want to give it away. The ending is to die for, but “Crush on Everyone” even more so. It’s totally a cappella and the audience is so powerful and it’s just such a great closer to the album.
The DVD reinforces the aforementioned authenticity that is Jonah’s greatest strength as a live performer. There are three sets of videos: the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, “A Small Living Room in Southern California,” and “The Volunteers, a Movie of Sorts.” There’s dancing, heartfelt speeches, and rockouts galore in the two live performances, and “The Volunteers” is actually a movie-like series of really fun, super-artsy, and very well-executed music videos. The DVD is a great supplement to the CD, and a great deal too, because there are 32 videos. (The CD’s tracks are actually audio versions of Jonah’s favorites from the DVD.)
32 videos, 11 audio tracks, yours for $12. There is really absolutely nothing to lose and so, so much to gain. I would say something like “Enjoy it,” but I already know you will.
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| THERE'S A LOT IN HERE
Equal Vision Records
1) Livin' Small
2) Bitte Ein Kuss
4) Jul00 (Never Run)
6) Better Than This
10) Yr Letter
<< 11) Lukewarm >>
12) Crush On Everyone
+ DVD Features