By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Jonah Matranga is a teddy bear. A teddy bear with tattoos and a guitar. The dude oozes charisma, whether he's fronting one of his bands (from the influential Far to the slept-on New End Original to the one-album-only Gratitude, all now defunct) or cranking out solo stuff under the name Onelinedrawing.
He's also a one-man cottage industry, selling shirts, mixed media, home recordings and everything else under the sun via his website (www.jonahmatranga.com). You can buy his recent collection, The Three Sketchys, including his lyrics-based artwork in 100 percent recycled packaging, on a sliding scale, in case you need a few more reasons to love him.
For the uninitiated, there's plenty of digging to do through his years of prolific output. The romantic, melodic punk he cranked out in the '90s foreshadowed the mainstream acceptance of emo today, but don't hold that against him. And yes, his earnest singing and fervent strumming can bring to mind Dashboard Confessional, but Matranga came first and has always done it better.
His equal devotion to sinewy punk anthems and weepy pop-folk ditties, plus a fondness for bedroom drum machines, has made for a dynamic career. These days, he's dropped all the monikers and finally records under his given name, making him a lovable Bay Area troubadour who just happens to have a lifetime of punk cred under his belt.
Playing live, Matranga is as likely to cherry-pick from his catalog—cross your fingers for Onelinedrawing's gosh-wow "Bitte Ein Kiss"—as he is to reverently cover Jawbox, the Jackson 5 and the Sugarcubes. Genres or cliques don't seem to matter as much to him as enjoyable songwriting, which explains his working with everyone from the Deftones and Thursday to Fort Minor and Lupe Fiasco.
If for some reason you can't make it to this show, cruise on over to his site and order the DVD There's a Lot in Here, recently rereleased with a bonus CD. Then? Settle down on the couch, cuddle up with it, and count the days until Matranga's in town again.