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Gratitude - Gratitude (Cover Artwork)

Gratitude

Gratitude: GratitudeGratitude (2005)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: AubinAubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I saw Jonah Matranga open for the Weakerthans here in Toronto about two years ago. At that point, he was still playing under his onelinedrawing moniker, and I can honestly say that he was a fairly earnest and enjoyable performer. And while he certainly seems to invoke the undeserved ire of the more .
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I saw Jonah Matranga open for the Weakerthans here in Toronto about two years ago. At that point, he was still playing under his onelinedrawing moniker, and I can honestly say that he was a fairly earnest and enjoyable performer. And while he certainly seems to invoke the undeserved ire of the more cynical among us, I found him fairly personable and a decent live musician. Because he had such a short set time available to him, he even offered to play for anyone who would listen out in front of the venue. This seemed particularly kind of him and it certainly gave me the impression that he was a nice person who genuinely enjoyed playing music for people.

Of course, being a nice guy doesn't necessarily guarantee an interesting record, and no review of Gratitude would be complete without mentioning a little bit about his history. Matranga's first substantial musical endeavour was Far, an emotional rock band that seemed on the verge of a breakthrough but never saw any real mainstream success. Following that, Matranga released Thriller under the name New End Original. Joined by members of Texas Is The Reason and Chamberlain, NEO produced a solid if somewhat forgettable rock record. However, rather than continue building up the band, Jonah decided to focus on a solo project, onelinedrawing, which - to the bemusement of some - took its name from an anagram of his other band. After two records released on Jade Tree, Jonah also "broke up with himself" and formed Gratitude. The band quickly signed to Atlantic, complete with rumours of vast amounts of money and unconfirmed reports of hookers and copious amounts of blow¹.

While Matranga has at least two previous "rock" projects in his past, Gratitude is a far different band than those aforementioned. Eschewing the more morose lyrics and melodies of Far, Gratitude takes the pop-rock/punk of New End Original to a far more mainstream place. Soaring vocals combined with anthemic songwriting and perfect radio-ready production are the sole stylistic focus of Gratitude, and you can almost see the sea of lighters in outstretched hands, to say nothing of the videos which will almost definitely be placed in the middle of a large field complete with circling cameras.

The truth is that Gratitude seems like the consolation prize for those disappointed by the latest U2 and Jimmy Eat World records and consequently, doesn't really create its own niche. Hell, try listening to "This Is The Part" and tell me it wouldn't have fit on Bleed American. Similarly, the track immediately prior to that, "The Greatest Wonder," could have been on The Joshua Tree, sandwiched neatly between "Bullet The Blue Sky" and "Running To Stand Still."

The biggest flaw of the record then is that there is nothing about it that really distinguishes itself from other successful releases, and while I doubt the band coldly conspired to ride the coattails of more established acts, there is still very little about Gratitude that could be said to be truly exciting. That said, none of the songs are truly bad or annoying, just lacking of a distinctive musical voice. The solid hooks and strong melodies are certainly enjoyable and I can admit that the band has the potential to make a great rock record, but so far, this collection of songs seems too much like so many others to be recommended.

¹ - Not so much unconfirmed as completely inaccurate. I made it up ok?

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
atomic_robotman (November 14, 2005)

interestingly enough, as soon as i posted my last comment on this record, i got an email saying gratitude broke up. hmmm...that was fast

atomic_robotman (November 10, 2005)

i love how quick people get so caught up in who's punk and who's not! the fact is, this is by far the best record i've heard all year. just saw them on tour with norm from texas is the reason, shelter, fountainhead, etc. and they were unbelievable. there was a time when punk wasn't so much about your clothes or the chords you played, but the message and the emotion. they convey it better then most these days.

Anonymous (June 17, 2005)

This isn't as bad as the critics would have you believe. I'm not saying its the best disc of the year, but definitely worthwhile. I say check it out if you can...

Anonymous (April 9, 2005)

good review. I have to admit, i was pretty excited about this record, as I really like onelinedrawing. unfortunatly, it just doesn't deliver. here's hoping the next album will be better...

Anonymous (March 14, 2005)

am i the only person that hated onelinedrawing? i saw the guy play 2 or 3 times and each time his guitar was out of tune and he was shrieking like a girl. i don't know, maybe i just dont get it?
-TOBB

Anonymous (March 12, 2005)

This review is right on the nose, but what it fails to point out is that Jonah's gained his loyal following by pushing his music where the mainstream wasn't by being vulnerable and experimental in his lyrics and music. "Always new" is his best example of this, see him live before you say he sucks or is a sellout. I think Jonah may have become to comofortable with this one for some of us. I still love you Jonah, I just miss R2 and your more experimental years. Sincerely, Bryan (screw the fake overdramatic names by the way)

adam (March 11, 2005)

"Brian get a better staff!!!!"

Aubin owns the place man, Brian's an editor.

-adam

Anonymous (March 11, 2005)

While I was reading the post a few below (all the time wondering when the word "so" added multiple vowels, I couldn't help but picturing a young Hillary Duff-esque girl running up to me after her purchase from the "staff picks" section of hot topic and telling me this was the new face of alternative music.

Thus begins my greatest sexual fantasy.

Anonymous (March 11, 2005)

what is "music"? one person's wolf eyes is another's kelly clarkson

Anonymous (March 11, 2005)

You people have no clue what music is .... This is SOOO much better than Far. The first two songs on the CD are just incredible! The song writing is sooo good, i cant believe that anyone could even put this in the same league as Far. Just cause its not "hard" or have stupid lyrics like the other crap this site trys to make everyone believe is "the most amazing thing ever" doesnt mean is its not an awesome CD.

This CD is Great ... this site sucks ... cause the people that write for it dont know music

Brian get a better staff!!!!

and ONeLinedrawing ... its not that good ... that i will agree with.

Anonymous (March 11, 2005)

"I'm tired of making Crumb references whenever there's a Gratitude item, but, Christ, am I the only person who liked that band?"

crumb was awesome. i sometimes randomly get that song "overboard" stuck in my head, even though i haven't listened to the cd in ages.

dazed (March 9, 2005)

I feel the same way Adam does about this album about everything he's done after Far. Far is amazing though.

Anonymous (March 9, 2005)

this review is pretty dead on. an okay release, but totalyl forgettable

Anonymous (March 9, 2005)

I have heard all about how nice Jonah and how he does this and that after shows, etc. I won't disagree on that point. But during his time with o.l.d. he was pretty much intolerable on stage. I'm not sure if I have ever seen anyone pat themselves on the back more onstage (for the two times i saw him) under the guise of "i know there are a lot of haters out there who think what i am doing up here is stupid", etc. it was non-stop, and just simply self-congratulatory.

Anonymous (March 9, 2005)

This band is on Warped this year

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

jonah's sets are always too damn long. when i saw him at the scene a couple summers back most of the crowd ended up leaving before he was done because he just kept going. that's happened when i've seen him other times too. (except when he's not headlining)

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

Haven't heard this yet. dont really want to. and everybody always talks about how nice Jonah is. Every time I've ever spoken with him he hasn't been that nice. whatever.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

I'm tired of making Crumb references whenever there's a Gratitude item, but, Christ, am I the only person who liked that band?

adam (March 8, 2005)

It must say something about the priorities of the 'scene' when most of the comments here are along the lines of:

"this sucks, but oh well he deserves a hit record"

...as if the actual quality of the music is far less important to people than "paying your dues" is.

Huh.

-adam

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

this is the worst band name ever

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

jonah just knows how to write a good pop rock song

Inspection12e (March 8, 2005)

I don't like this CD at all but Jonah needed to make some money sometime.

Score is for all ofJonah's past efforts.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

My only question is "is Jonah really vegan?" He claims to be veggie and does promotions for Peta2, but in one of his recent site updates he mentions that he was "eating chicken soup..."

WTF?

Cos (March 8, 2005)

I'll give this band a year before they break up. Jonah is notoriously hard to work with, and once their targeted mainstream success eludes them (and it will...), I doubt the guys will want to put up with their frontman anymore.

--Cos

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

agreed. i'm not huge on this record, but jonah deserves whatever success may come.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

jonah deserves all the success that gratitude will bring him. this guy has played countless house shows and has paid his dues a dozen times over.

sickboi (March 8, 2005)

I think the comment was geared towards eventual college, you retard.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

and before all that sellout bullshit starts to fly, remember this guy is in his mid-30's, and hasn't exactly made a fortune in his career...if you had a daughter you would have to eventually put through school, i'm sure you'd do the exact same thing

Yeah, all those scribblers and pencils are super expensive...

-Chinatown

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

I can't wait to pick this up at lunch. I've been listening to the 4 streamed songs at www.gratitudemusic.com for over a month now.

This will be my guilty pleasure for a while.

- Stewart Dowouis

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

This is way too boring for Jonah.

TheBouncingSoul (March 8, 2005)

and before all that sellout bullshit starts to fly, remember this guy is in his mid-30's, and hasn't exactly made a fortune in his career...if you had a daughter you would have to eventually put through school, i'm sure you'd do the exact same thing

colin (March 8, 2005)

i love jonah , and "this is the part" is a decent song, but for the most part this is an entirely forgettable album. very disappointing.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

besides the already pointed out mistake of thinking new end original predates one line drawing, I agree with the review.

I had HUGE anticipatory feelings about this band, but its very generic, very boring, with all respect to jonah as a valuable member of the music community.

I just dont get this record. And jonah on trl was priceless. didn't anybody else see that?

They treated him like this was his first band.

wyzo

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

correction: he was doing onelinedrawing long before new end original.

i haven't heard this record, but i hear it's awesome. jonah seems like a real rad dude, and he's never really disappointed me musically, so i'm still curious to hear this, despite what everyone is saying.

FatTony (March 8, 2005)

Best footnote ever.

lou (March 8, 2005)

"complete with rumours of vast amounts of money and unconfirmed reports of hookers and copious amounts of blow¹."

oh c'mon, give the guy a break. who doesn't love hookers and copious amounts of blow? lord knows i do.

seriously though, that one line from the review was more entertaining than this album.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

i'm a big fan of far, onelinedrawing and new end original, and this album really disapointed me. it's lacking the flair and the heart that made me love jonah's other work. it's not bad by any means, but it's pretty mediocre. that said, "last" is a really good song.

Kenjamin (March 8, 2005)

that hook on the single is sooo good though. I wouldn't mind hearing that on a sunny day one bit.

bogey4 (March 8, 2005)

Kirby was right.

meh.

kirbypuckett (March 8, 2005)

I really enjoyed the review Aubin, but I have a feeling I won't be buying this today, meh.

- Kirby

stevejonestherealbones (March 8, 2005)

i told all yall this shit sucked a long time ago

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

An album by someone who has been trying to be a rock star for so long that it's hard to view as anything but an attempt to get famous.

TheBouncingSoul (March 8, 2005)

just take it for what it is...a fun, solid rock record

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

I do want to point out that I really enjoyed Visitor. This is just pop crap.

-Chinatown

Jesse (March 8, 2005)

This dude sucks.

Anonymous (March 8, 2005)

Sellout.

-Chinatown

adam (March 8, 2005)

I heard this record today, and coming from the perspective of someone who's never really listened to any of this guy's past bands: yawn. This is "nice" music that's ultimately devoid of character or any really distinguishing qualities.

-adam

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