San Francisco's Gratitude may have set out with the goal of making a record that sounds different from most others on the music scene, but I have to say, I think I've heard remnants of their sound before...possibly as a mixture of Story of the Year and Jimmy Eat World. Definitely not a bad combination, but not one that's necessarily original.
While the group has been together only since 2003, the founding members met up at a festival nearly a decade before. Jonah Matranga and Mark Weinberg were introduced to each other by a mutual friend (singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson) while playing a college music festival in Southern California. And while the two spent the next years touring and working with their own groups, they still managed to sit down and collaborate on a few songs, eventually deciding to join forces and start a band of their own...if only they could think of a name...
Well, that didn't take too long, and soon Gratitude was born with the addition of bassist Bob Lindsey, guitarist Jeremy Tappero, and drummer Dave Jarnstom. The group took to the studio, meeting up in sunny Los Angeles to work with Jim Scott (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Wilco, Tom Petty). The result is the group's self-titled debut album.
'Drive Away' is the album's signature radio-friendly track, complete with emo-esque lyrics about saving a young girl from either a car crash, or a bad relationship...the metaphor is up to you. The driving guitar and distressed vocals are catchy enough to get stuck in your head for the rest of the day, whether you like it or not (definitely the sign of radio success). Tracks like 'Lost' and 'This Is The Part' showcase the angstier side of the album, as I can definitely see sweaty teenagers and college kids pushing each other around in an attempt to develop a mosh pit. There are shining moments in the lyrics to the latter song in particular in which the listener can connect with the lead singer. With lines like, 'I've built up this collection/Souveniers from years of missed connections,' I can see all the little knick-knacks and memories of my life sitting on a shelf in the corner of my mind, slowly collecting dust. Punk shows its softer side on tracks like 'Someone to Love,' 'The Greatest Wonder,' and 'If Ever', where the vocals and lyrics are dominant over any guitar riffs or drum solos.
'I truly think this is a band for everyone,' says co-founder Matranga. 'At our shows, I want to see mullets and horn-rimmed glasses and mohawks. We didn't set out to make a band for everyone -- I just think it is.'. Well, while I do think that Gratitude may not be the newest sound out in the music world, I do think it would be nice to see them be one of the few groups who stick around for more than one album. It would be interesting to see where these guys are five years from now, as well as the direction their music has gone in. If not for the music, just for the chance to see mohawks, mullets, and horn-rimmed glasses all bopping about to the same band.
6Laurel Dreher's Score