Jonah Matranga, currently also known as Onelinedrawing, but also the former lead singer for such notable acts as Far and New End Original, is back with his latest album, The Volunteers. This is his follow up to his 2002 full length Visitor, and countless EPs. He has grown to be an almost myth like figure in the hardcore and emo undergrounds, and, as long as he has a say in it, that is where he is going to stay. The Volunteers is a good follow up album, even though it lacks a little of the kick in the gut that other Onelinedrawing albums have, but it is not with out its merits. In the end, it turns out to be a better album than most current artists could ever imagine of putting out.
The simplicity of a solo artist can be either amazing or painful, and Jonah knows that. The Volunteers can almost be considered the musical version of a mixed media artistic composition. This isn't simply a guy singing over an acoustic guitar; there is a whole lot more going on this album. For example, two tracks, ("New York" and "Portland") are experimental, ambient noise, and other than that there isn't really much to the tracks. One can make the argument that these two cuts may take away from the overall enjoyment of the album. However, the argument can be made that it is just a demonstration of the different areas that Onelinedrawing is willing to venture into. Adding to the mixed medium idea is the appearance of Ian Love (Rival Schools, Cardia) on guitar for a handful of tracks, and even the live vocals at the end of "Over It." This is not your average studio album.
Running the gamut of tracks, each comes from deep inside the heart of their singer. Yes, some are better than others, but very few albums come along where every track is purely amazing. "Over It" and "We Had a Deal" are two of the standout, upbeat rock tracks, with the acoustic, downplayed "Livin' Small" close behind. Each has its own special glow to it, but that can be said about all of Jonah's tracks; these three just happen to be a bit brighter. "Oh, Boys" shows a hint of Jonah's sense of humor, and almost a hint of ambiguous sexuality. The third track, "A Ghost," is as haunting as its title, with the subtle presence of Ian Love's guitar in the back ground. The two ambient tracks almost help to make the other tracks stand out, since there isn't as much substance to those two which virtually bookend the album.
One of the great things about Onelinedrawing is that Jonah understands what is going on in the music industry, and the world for that matter, right now, and he tailors his album to it. For example, the liner notes are an extended letter to the listener with insights into Jonah's mind as he recorded the album. What he says in his notes is at least worth a quarter of the price of the album. Another quarter of the price can be accounted for if you put the CD into your computer. There are a total of twelve demo tracks included for six of the songs on the album, allowing the listener to hear the evolution of most of the cuts on the album, or simply some alternate versions. Also on the CD are Jonah's thoughts and explanation of each mp3 file, giving the listener a better idea of just what they are listening to.
Very few bands today are out there even attempting to do what this one man band is trying to do. The Volunteers is a manifestation of just what he is trying to do. For so many reasons, this album is a fine addition to the already incredible and inspirational Onelinedrawing catalogue.
Jason Cipriano is the Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.