Jonah Matranga is somewhat of a musical vagrant. Over the last ten years, he's spent time in Far, New End Original, Onelinedrawing, Gratitude, and had a bit of a solo career. If nothing else can be said of the man, he keeps himself musically busy.
There's a Lot in Here is Matranga's newest musical foray, and the title fits perfectly for the amount of content you get on this dual CD/DVD venture.
The first disc compiles two sets for Matranga, one is done solo and acoustically at a house show in Southern California, the other with a full band at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim. The former of those, judging from the recordings, is a very intimate setting with not many in attendance. The recording is not exemplary, and Matranga has a lot of interaction with the audience, just shooting the shit and trying to keep things very light-hearted and jovial. As for the songs themselves, he does not sound at his best here. His most honest, but not his best. His voice often cracks under the weight of a note that he just can't hit, but I admire the fact that he put those six songs on the album regardless. "Better Than This',' the apparent set closer, transitions twice from some wrenching vocals to conversation with the crowd, and that contrast just helps to solidify that feel of intimacy previously displayed. The latter half, played with full band accompaniment, loses some of the tight knit feel of the acoustic set, but in turn, gains a bit of footing on the recordings. Jonah's voice sounds clearer, crisper, stronger, but I can't quite get into the songs. "Hostage" recalls his days in Far, with somewhat of an aggressive sound vocally, the chorus really comes on full and strong.
An impressive array of material, but there's still a DVD to go as well.
The first of the collections on the DVD, is a music video for each song on the Onelinedrawing album, Volunteers. It ranges everything from live footage of concerts and house shows to actual music video footage, all mashed together in a very interesting fashion. All eleven videos are well done, and the live footage shown is pretty awesome to see, especially the house show footage. Following that up is an acoustic solo set filmed in front of a small group of people at a house, again providing a very intimate feel. Songs like "Smile" and "Bitte Ein Kuss" sound and look great due to solid recording and production. With everyone quietly sitting on the floor around him, Matranga plays the part of storyteller, in his most bare and honest state. The last part of the DVD, the footage of the Chain Reaction show, with a full band, is arguably the weakest. He again sounds and looks great, and the set is full of energy and conviction, but the songs simply don't come across as well as the ones acoustically done.
You really can't go wrong here if you're a fan of any of Matranga's previous work. There's just a ton of content, and it's honestly worth it for the acoustic DVD footage alone. Two sets on CD, two sets on DVD, and a whole batch of music videos, it's the definition of getting your money's worth.