Jonah Matranga is well traveled if nothing else. I missed out on his first band, Far, but I grew to love his vocals after catching on to his solo project Onelinedrawing and with his part-time band New End Original. Now Jonah is playing the band game again with a new major label gig called Gratitude. Joining him is ex-Crumb guitarist Mark Weinberg.
So, how does a former major-label-darling-gone-indie-kid end up in a project that gets signed to Atlantic Records on the strength of only four songs? All I can say is that crazy things are happening in music right now and it couldn't have happened to a more gracious and talented performer. Plus, having heard the songs, they are deserving of a little praise.
"Drive Away" combines the bigger guitar sound that Matranga's voice compliments, with poppy hooks and a melodic chorus. "The Greatest Wonder" sounds like some classic vintage U2. Matranga's vocals sound similar to Bono, and the delayed guitar sound sounds like something straight out of The Edge's playbook. Combine that with a very U2-esque drum shuffle and a grandiose arena friendly sound and it wouldn't surprise me to hear this song fill up every inch of every venue in which it is played just like many of U2's greatest hits.
Don't think for a second that Gratitude is a tribute band or anything because they keep true to their various roots. Sometimes backing off to Jonah's solo style and embracing the heavier and punkier roots that have built the bands to this point. If Jimmy Eat World was a genre, "This is the Part" would fit securely in that realm.
But I back off the comparisons. As I finish listening to this album it makes me feel guilty for having drawn so many parallels between other artists when clearly this record sounds like its own true expression. It is just an all around great rock record. There isn't one song which totally pulls away from the pack, but as a whole it is infectious with its riffs, melodies and truly wonderful moments.
Knowing Jonah's career, I can only assume that this will be an even better stage show, so be sure to check out this album and try to catch the band live when they come to your town.