Like a swarm of mosquitoes, a few male singer/songwriters (Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes, Pedro the Lion) have been making us itchy of late. Their melodies and lyrics are intimate, introspective, and infectious; they gather press, shout-outs, and fans, goodly amounts of whom are female middle-schoolers. They are talented and dreamy with indie/street cred and crossover appeal. Marketing directors everywhere are salivating. I don't mean to sound like a militant dragonfly making a midair meal of these artists. It's just that they're so charming, sad, and sweet, and they write these addictive, glycerin-infused pop songs that are safe from cynicism now that Nick Drake is back in fashion. Considering the gluttonous consumption, it's natural to want to exact a response akin to a chemical repellent.
Alas, it's too late: I'm stung. A few years after the breakup of the bristly Far, Jonah Sonz Matranga started issuing personal anthems on various indie labels under the moniker Onelinedrawing. In the liner notes of the delightful Visitor, his first full-length, he reminds us "a onelinedrawing is when you start drawing and don't pick up the pencil 'til you're done," which explains the curious dichotomy of his music's careful deliberateness and raw simplicity. "Um..." breathes quiet guitar picking, tinkling keys, and whispered lyrics until the weeping chorus, "Sorry for my dreams/I just didn't know/how long you could wait/Doesn't matter now." The lament of this track puts the listener in the unusual position of a guest given the power of absolution. "Bitte Ein Kuss" ("Please a Kiss") bounces cheeky with a simple electro-beat, breezy strumming, and some "in-the-bed disco." The first single, the plugged-in, light rocker "Smile," is an anthemic ode to happy optimism. Recorded with sparse instrumentation (not much more than his guitar and R2D2 beat-box), Matranga's charming visitation gets under our defenses and creates a welcome experience of aural satisfaction, bitter empathy, and simple joy.