by Chris Stum
Five Star: A look at albums
that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very
few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally
a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry
and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock!
This series is a look at such albums.
Alt/Pop-A term which is sometimes overused
into today's musical society. What is alt/pop?, better yet, who is
alt/pop and how or why do they get that tag? After listening to the
band Gratitude, you'll probably be an expert on what that term means.
Not only is the music of the band known as alt/pop, but the album stands
up the best of them in today's music world.
Think U2, Jimmy Eat World, maybe throw
in Radiohead for good measure, and you'll have the San Francisco based
band called Gratitude. Their debut, self-titled album is available
now on Atlantic, and packs enough vocal and musical hooks to keep you occupied
for a long time. The Gratitude story actually started in 1992 when
frontman Jonah Matranga and guitarist Mark Weinberg met at a music festival
at Pitzer College in Southern California. The two kept in touch over
the years and even contributed their respective talents to each others
bands at the time. In 2003 Matranga and Weinberg decided to start
writing together, the end result is that of Gratitude.
For their debut album, Gratitude was able
to utilize the talents of producer Jim Scott (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom
Petty). The result is 12 beautifully crafted songs that not only
stand out with stellar production, but each instrument and voice is portrayed
perfectly to match the song.
The first single on the bands debut album
is entitled "Drive Away". Certainly the favorite to open the album,
"Drive Away" begins the Gratitude story in fine fashion with superb guitar
lines and Jonah Matranga's lyrics with lines like, "Don't drive away, don't
leave her this way." The chorus in "Drive Away" completely opens
up, setting the stage for the rest of the album. I could describe
the vocals of Matranga as borderline Weezer, possibly Black Lab, but one
thing is for sure, Matranga has a great voice that is clear and portrays
the emotion and conviction in the lyrics.
The songs "Last" and "All In A Row" show
off the bands ability to bring different textures into thier music.
Tetering on brit pop and strait up rock and roll, "Last" and "All In A
Row" bring all the elements of what Gratitude is into one. This is
straight up melody here folks, great rock songs and the vocals and lyrics
to back it up. Production shines through in songs like "The Greatest
Wonder" and "Sadie" with lush guitar swells and piano lines. Producer
Jim Scott has really contributed his talents to create an extremely great
sounding record. None of the sounds that Gratitude portray seem to
be "made up", just full out emotion with each guitar and vocal line.
Great performances with a great producer equals a great album.
One of the greatest songs that Gratitude
has to offer lies in the middle of the album. The song is called
"Feel Alright" and is by far the standout here. Great guitar hooks
and vocals in "Feel Alright" which is similar to bands like Remy Zero and
U2. These are the types of songs that get me excited about what bands
like this have to offer. "Feel Alright" has a driving feel to it,
just a straightforward rocker, no holds barred with more great lyrics and
melodies from Jonah Matranga.
What is interesting in this entire album
is the fact that is pulls you in and does not let you go. Almost
like a great book, after all, isn't that what great albums are supposed
to do? The song "Someone To Love" is a great example, it follows
up a few upeat songs on the album, but it slows the album down in a perfect
place. "Another Division St." is similar to a more modern Jimmy Eat
World tune, but keeps everything interesting by implying the Gratitude
tag to the song. The song "Dream Again" helps to wrap the album up
with great guitar rhythms and an explosive chorus.
By far, this is going to be one of the
best albums of the year. I can only hope that Gratitude will obtain
the radio play they deserve. It just seems like a lot of great bands
in this genre get overlooked much too often for a heavy modern rock.
If you are looking for a band that truly defines the alt/pop tag, look
no further, Gratitude should be the new band of the year.
Mar 08, 2005
All In A Row
Greatest Wonder, The
This Is The Part
Someone To Love
Another Division St.
the band's homepage to learn more
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