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April 12, 2004

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When I listen to a band, musician, what have you, many things come into the whole experience for me. Have I seen them live? What would their show be like if I haven’t? How many people are in the band? Who plays/sings what? How was it recorded? Who wrote what song? How many influences do they have? Do they show them? The list can go on for a while, so I’ll just quit while I’m already behind. Onelinedrawing (Jonah Matranga) is one of those artists that peaks a fair amount of my music listening interests. His live shows are enjoyable, his albums are recorded mainly at his home (or someone else’s), he writes amazing songs, and he invites nearly anyone to join in and take part in his music. Have I been anticipating the release of this album? Yes. Do I like it? Yes. Should I tell you what I think of it? We’ve come this far, why not go a little further?

I had a pretty good idea of how this record was going to sound from hearing Jonah’s previously released EPs and LP. He plays a sort of homemade, laptop-born emo-pop (lappop?)-but not too emo-type of rock. This records walks steadily on the beaten path with the tried and true architectural methods that have landed his other releases in constant rotation in his fans’ collections and adds just enough to keep things discrete. The Casio-esque drum beats and metronomes that appear on past records find their home on sailing ‘A Ghost’ and the quirky ‘Oh, Boys’. ‘Superhero’ omits a shimmery whirr that sounds quite similar to effect that oneline’s solo, musical alter ego kin, Owen (Mike Kinsella) used on his first record. I may have let on with a little too much record store junkie knowledge, but hey. ‘Stay’ is a sweeping, apologetic ballad that exhibits Jonah’s earthly, personable songwriting, as is the story with the contenting ‘Livin’ Small’, a song that both displays feelings and teaches lessons all in a pleasing four minutes and ten seconds. Matranga’s feeling of music, art, and life come out in musical form on this song: going for aesthetics rather than feelings, chasing money and not what’s important, like love, and selling yourself out and using your art for financial gain (‘all these punk rock pimps and hoes, selling this and selling those, I mean, what’s the dilly, yo?’).

The upbeat, more rock influenced songs show Jonah’s all-around approach to his music. I have seen him live on a few occasions, and ‘We Had A Deal’ encompasses the feeling, sound, and passion of what a onelinedrawing show is all about. Crunchy guitars, calm, then stressed vocals, and undeniable energy all appear in this whimsical and whirly opus.

The cd is packed with exquisite artwork, and extensive liner notes that include a veritable play-by-play of how each song came about, such as the previously mentioned ‘Oh Boys’, which is a little ditty he wrote for his girlfriend from her point of view, something one might not draw from listening to just the song. The motives of his music and his extensive touring are all explained inside and everything is wrapped up with some nice words by Thursday’s own Geoff Rickly. Also, for those who are of the compact disc addiction clique, the cd pressing has an mp3 portion with rough versions of a few songs that serves as a schematic map to how Jonah writes and constructs his music, sorry vinyl buyers, you’re shit out of luck on this one.

Mellowness overcomes the excitable on this outing, which makes for a more stripped down, heart on his sleeve feeling. Out of all of his previous releases, this onelinedrawing record comes off as a more personal, vulnerable collection of songs, each bursting at the seams with his own signature touch of studio apartment intimacy. This is a look into a man’s life, his love, and his art, pick it up, you’ll need to wrap your ears and arms around this one. Why are you still sitting there? Move!


Phil Nichols