Jonah Matranga/Mikee J Reds – Countrysides (split)

Album cover

Summary

  • Digital-split release featuring two songs by the illustrious Jonah Matranga (Far, Gratitude, New End Original, onelinedrawing) from the USA, alongside two songs by Mikee J Reds, the solo outing from the singer of the UK’s Call Off The Search.
  • Jonah Matranga’s new album “You’re All Those Things And Then You’re None” available soon from jonahmatranga.com
  • Mikee J Reds video supporting “Living Well” single out now.

Track Listing

  1. Jonah Matranga - Sweet Life
  2. Jonah Matranga - Secret World
  3. Mikee J Reds - Living Well
  4. Mikee J Reds - Old Skin

About this Release 

Buy on Jonah + Mikee - Countrysides

Beautiful acoustic guitar songs from two of the emo scenes top guys. Jonah Matranga is something of a legend in the alternative / emo / hardcore scene. A singer, songwriter and guitarist who has released a variety of solo material under his own name and onelinedrawing. He has previously been part of the bands Far, New End Original and Gratitude too. He now continues to work and tour under his own name as a solo artist. Jonah’s tracks on this release are; “Sweet Life” & “Secret World.”
Please visit www.jonahmatranga.com for more info.

Mikee J Reds may be a newer name to many in the scene but he has done his time too, playing in Engineer Records bands The Sketch and now Call Off The Search and touring constantly in the UK, he now has his own solo project receiving great reviews. Mikee’s tracks on this release are; “Living Well” & “Old Skin.”
Please visit www.facebook.com/mikeejreds for more info.



Reviews

absolutzine.com

first Countrysides is a shared EP Jonah Matranga and Mikee J Reds , names who hide behind the two songwriters who defend with their voices and guitars. The face is signed by the Matranga and does not offer anything special just because the two songs included sound bland and very similar. The opposite, Mikee is more remarkable. The vocal is and, in fact, both issues perfectly in the mold of punk rock melon.

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Ondalternativa

Pleasant and relaxing this ep of 4 songs of Engineer Records:
The first two tracks of the American songwriter Jonah Matranga and the other two pieces of Mikee J Reds, both artists are in fact at this time on tour to promote their work. Two tracks on each side of the ep, though of very different tracks convey the serenity and tranquility that is found during the “formicante” summer. Jonah Matranga, cantatutore American, working in bands as Far and New End Original (Onelinedrawing) but also carries on solo projects with his name in this ep features two tracks, “Sweet Life” and “Secret World”. Voice and guitar, and it seems to be a bonfire on the beach with some friends to roast sausages (and NOT marshmallows!!). Something similar happens with “Secret World”, but perhaps more reflective of the same sound. Certainly neither the one nor the other will be remembered as the best work Matranga but they are “cute”. Small contrast when it comes to the side of the ep Mikee J Reds: more sounds, more instruments, vocals and backing vocals …. a liberating pop-punk that is well suited to these hot summer days. “Living well” is rich, energetic … remains fixed in the head! “Old skin” is perhaps a little ‘less immediate but no less refined, with references to a past nu-metal. Wishing to be able to see these artists live, or to get the ep, I wish you happy listening!

3.5 out of 5!

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Push To Fire

Jonah Matranga and Mikee J Reds – Countrysides (Split)
Reviewed by Suzy Harrison

Countrysides is a split EP from Jonah Matranga (ex-Gratitude, Onelinedrawing) and Mikee J Reds (Call off the Search). The CD was available on the two singers’ recent UK acoustic tour and can now be bought from Engineer Records. On the record there are two tracks from Jonah – ‘Sweet Life’ and ‘Secret World’, and two from Mikee – ‘Living Well’ and ‘Old Skin’.

So let’s start from the beginning. What better place to start? Jonah’s ‘Sweet Life’ opens the split. The lyrics in this song make you think about the things that are free and so important, rather than material possessions. The second track from Jonah, ‘Secret World’, seems to reflect idea of being with someone and those around not being a part of that ‘world’. It’s about that world you share with one person and it’s a world without any secrets, but in itself it remains a secret to everyone else because only you and the other person experience it. The lyrics are pretty clever and the concept’s interesting. I felt this track was the stronger of the two. It’s apparent that song writing seems to come easy to Jonah, or at least that’s what he’d have you believe. He seems to be able to roll out the songs with hardly any effort. If you’re a fan already, you’ll enjoy this offering and if you’re not, it’ll leave you wanting to see what else Jonah has written.

Mikee J Reds might not be someone who you have heard of before, but he’s definitely worthy of being on this split with Jonah. He’s currently the singer in ‘Call off the Search’ but has been working on solo material. His voice is distinct frm other artists. It’s clear that Mikee has made use of the strength his voice has by layering harmonies on both ‘Living Well’ and ‘Old Skin’; this technique gives the songs emphasis in all the right places. The layers also manage to create a semi-folk sound within the tracks. The guitar lines are a little bit more complex and intricate (e.g. introduction to ‘Old Skin’) than those demonstrated in Jonah’s songs.

It seems that for Mikee it’s about the whole sound – the vocals, the words, the guitar. Whereas for Jonah I’d say there is a greater emphasis on dynamics and vocal range of the voice and the message behind the song. It’s interesting how the song writing approach seems to differ so greatly. Jonah has been writing as a solo artist for a long time and so is used to writing for a solo performer, whilst Mikee has more recent experience of writing songs for groups of people and this is why I think we hear so much layering and complexity to the sound in Mikee’s tracks.

For me the stand out tracks are Jonah’s ‘Secret World’ and Mikee’s ‘Living Well’. The split is a nice little taster of what these artists have to offer and you should really check them out.

4/5

http://pushtofire.com/musicreviews.html#article560

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RockZone (Spain)

JONAH MATRANGA & MIKEE J. REDS
Countrysides EP
(ENGINEER RECORDS)
.
Past, present and future merge into an embrace in the beautiful EP intercontinental Countryside, shared by American Jonah Matranga and English Mikee J. Reds. The split, sponsored by the label Engineer Records, features two tracks per artist and you can listen freely on different platforms.

Matranga doesn’t need presentation: He is the best known and friendly-face of recovered Far, New End Original and, most recently, Gratitude. Undoubtedly, a lovely master everything that is proposed, whether composing acoustic pieces moving or releasing many whiplash, with a curriculum enjoyable and equally influential in the alternative circuit. ”Sweet Life ‘and’ Secret World ‘, two pieces that could be the bare skeletons of two hitazos power pop, two portraits of Jonah more loving, sensitive and delicate. His voice, a few chords with his acoustic guitar and, above all, his charisma are enough to seduce the most badass.

Less famous but with the same intentions, Mikee J. Reds raise slightly the amount of work with ‘Old Skin’ and my favourite ‘Living Well’, two songs full of passion in which he opens his heart and sings from the gut. Fan said the expertise of Matranga and pupil in full bloom as a soloist but also as head of the poppy punk band Call Off The Search, collecting great reviews at home, Mikee also merits in the EP to be the next big thing among the followers of their own Matranga, Frank Turner and Rocky Votolato.

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Unseen

Countrysides is the new split acoustic EP from singer songwriter Jonah Matranga and lead singer of Call off the Search, Mikee J Reds. This short but sweet EP showcases two new acoustic tracks by each artist, the styles of which are differing but highly complementary, creating a beautiful and at times moving record.

Jonah Matranga (known from bands such as Far and New End Original) has a delicate style and a voice with great fragility, giving his tracks a calming atmosphere. The first track of his on the EP, Sweet Life, is the epitome of this. The track’s unpretentious lyrics and down-to-earth attitude is a refreshing contrast to the extravagance perceived of many other artists. The dainty introduction builds up to a charming chorus presenting his ability to sing with falsetto beauty. The second track of Jonah Matranga’s, Secret World, is more up-tempo. However upon listening to the joy the lyrics present, there is no absence of the emotion and atmosphere the first track produced. It’s immensely catchy chorus can feel slightly repetitive at times but it doesn’t fail to be infectious.

With a slight contrast in style, drawing more from the genre of his other musical projects, the two tracks by Mikee J Reds follow. The first of his tracks, Living Well is an enjoyable track reminiscent of acoustic tracks by pop punk bands such as Mayday Parade. Although the sound of the track is not ground breaking, it does still manage to inspire a lot of emotion and provides numerous points of relation for the listener. The more attitude-driven backing vocals in parts of the song are a great addition, sounding like the work he has done with his band Call off the Search. The final track on the EP is a superb song, with an alternative sound to the prior songs on the record. A fantastic, catchy melody kicks off the track before the emotive verse commences, affirming his ability to produce an infectious yet stirring track. The verses act as a build up to the more powerful chorus adding that extra element of contrast.

As a taste of both of these artists’ continuing solo projects it definitely makes the listener want to hear more. A great picture of both of these artists’ musical abilities, it is highly promising and I am very much looking forward to future releases from them both.

For fans of; Bright Eyes, Promise of Redemption

Writer – Abi Pitts

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Get To The Front

When two emo scenesters release a Split-EP, many may expect angst-filled lyrics and guitar riffs aplenty but this EP certainly does not match that assumption. Instead expect four relatively upbeat acoustic offerings.

The record opens up with Jonah Matragna’s two tracks; Sweet Life which is essentially a cheery ode to the simple things in life and Secret World, a similarly joyful melody. Matragna’s many years working within the scene are evident as he sings the songs as if it’s second nature. In fact at times he does it so well, it seems that he may almost be in danger of showing up his less seasoned partner.

However Mikee J Reds certainly does not allow that to happen and shines through with his own songs, Living Well (a repetitive yet very pleasing contagious track with bittersweet lyrics) and Old Skin which offers more of the same, but that’s not a negative comment by any means. The slow tempo of Reds’ two melodies may surprise fans of his fun-filled punk rock outfit ‘Call Off The Search’ but he seems so at home with this sound, you wouldn’t be surprised if this was his full time project.

When the two artists set out on the road together later this month, the reason why Matragna is top of the bill will only come down to experience and not musicality. Considering that this is Reds’ debut solo release, it’s certainly promising that one day he will not only be touring with his musical hero but perhaps co-headlining.

8 out of 10

Review by Amy McLellan

http://gettothefront.co.uk/2011/05/ep-mikee-j-reds-jonah-

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Alter The Press

Engineer Records have released ‘Countrysides’ a split EP by Jonah Matranga and Mikee J Reds to coincide with the pairs forthcoming UK Tour. Each artist presents two new tracks for their side of the EP, and though both are known for being in bands (FAR and Call Off The Search respectively), Matranga is an old hand at this solo acoustic game. Acoustic split EPs often have the potential to disappoint, as there is often little to choose between the two artists. Thankfully, ‘Countrysides’ doesn’t have this problem, with Matranga offering up his trademark stripped-back sound, where Reds opts for fuller instrumentation.

Jonah Matranga opens the EP with ‘Sweet Life’. The song wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Volunteers’, featuring Matranga’s familiar vocal gymnastics and jangly acoustic rhythms. The little reference to gardening in the lyrics is a heartening indication of the stage that the artist has reached in his life. ‘Secret World’ is a similar sounding track, utilising the same sounds and set-up. Both tracks are enjoyable.

Mikee J Reds’ side of the EP is quite the contrast. It’s much fuller in instrumentation, featuring keys and layered vocals and guitars.
‘Living Well’ is probably the better of the two tracks. It is uplifting and energetic.

As a tour package, Jonah and Mikee are quite an exciting prospect, and there’s no doubt both acts will please in a live setting. Attend one of the forthcoming shows, and perhaps get this as a souvenir.
3/5

http://www.alterthepress.com/2011/05/album-review-jonah-m

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RockKent

Mikee J Reds can usually be found singing and strumming with Call off the Search, a punk rock outfit from East Kent who bash out fast paced, high octane songs that will rock you into next Tuesday. Regular readers of these pages may remember they recently gave the Katy Perry song, “Teenage Dreams” a shot of adrenaline, all thumping, thudding drums and what I think I referred to as “primal virility”.

Alongside his work with Call off the Search, Reds is also pursuing a solo, acoustic career. In theory, you’d think this should mean quieter, more reflective songs. And while it’s true an acoustic guitar can’t really compete with its brasher younger electric sibling, Mikee J Reds still gives it a good pounding and manages to snarl his way through the lyrics like the best of them.

You’ll find two of his latest songs on the split EP, Countrysides which he shares with his musical idol, the Californian singer/songwriter Jonah Matranga. Reds follows Matranga’s wistful, new folky songs “Sweet Life” and “Secret World” (all Joni Mitchell meets the Moldy Peaches), with a couple of songs which are somewhat darker and far more angst ridden.

Despite the stripped back sound, “Living Well” remains as primal as any of Call off the Search’s plugged songs (as opposed to the unplugged ones we have on this EP). Here, the theme is of revenge. In particular, how “the best revenge is living well”. It comes complete with a strings: violins and cellos rising and falling on the song’s surface while Reds plus back vocals sings and strains over the top.
Such a line up of instruments wouldn’t normally lend itself to a military feel. The Band of the Cold Stream Guards has yet to experiment with string quartets and guitars while on the hoof outside Buck House as far as I‘m aware. Nevertheless, there’s a martial feel to the song here, supporting lyrics about “no war too big, no battle too small/we will take them all”.

The second song, “Old Skin” is as angst ridden as the last. Here, rather than seeking revenge of wrongs done, Reds sings about the pain of old wounds and a sense of dissatisfaction with life (“Is this really the best we’ll ever get?”).

There’s nothing particularly new to the lyrics. They’ve been the common staple of Emo and sad songs in general since the dawn of time – if not before. There were probably amoebas in the primordial soup singing songs about the pointlessness of their existence before they crawled out of their swamp.

But that doesn’t really matter. Even Shakespeare used old stories for his plays, so let’s cut Mikee J Reds a little bit of slack. Besides, who hasn’t ever asked “Why is this happening to me?” or wanted to find “a land I can run to…so I can escape from this God forsaken race”?

“Old Skin” is a great song, full of Flamenco guitars and an encore from the strings beneath a Roddy Woomble-esque vocal. It’s gorgeous, impassioned and really quite beautiful.

In these two songs, Reds has set himself (and meets) a tough challenge. Both “Living Well” and “Old Skin” might, on the face of it, be more suited to a bigger, electric sound, such as you’d find coming from his band, Call off the Search.
By stripping things back, adding the brake and a fair bit of restraint, Reds has produced for himself a couple of rather splendid acoustic songs.

http://www.rockkent.com/2011/05/mikee-j-reds-2/

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RockSound

Classic fare from Jonah Matranga on this latest split EP, another familiar yet fresh offering that will be added to his gargantuan back catalogue. Showcashing two from his “You’re All Those Things And Then You’re None” album it’s the usual three-minute burst of frown-lifting, real-talking and high-melodic mood-breaking music.

Call Off The Search singer Mikee J Reds compliments Matranga well in musical identity while offering a slightly more elaborate acoustic arrangement (spares kets and strings making appearances) on his two contributions. Exceptionally brief yet extremely enjoyable, these are four songs that sound good together.

For Fans Of: Acoustic Guitars, Frank Turner and melodies. 7/10.

http://www.rocksound.com

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Time To Explore

Countrysides – New Split EP from Jonah Matranga & Mikee J Reds

For fans of Frank Turner and The King Blues, Jonah Matranga and Mikee J Reds have created a cheeky little split EP which is sure to make you smile – four fantastic tracks from two of the emo scene’s most talented guys.

After being a member of, Far, New End Original and Gratitude, Jonah Matranga now works solo, touring under his own name. Vocally and lyrically beautiful, Matranga opens the EP with simple, honest music. A legend in the alternative / emo scene, he certainly lives up to his reputation. Great melodies and acoustic guitar create two wonderfully up-lifting tracks from the lovable American singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Matranga has most certainly found the perfect partner in Mikee J Reds. Fresh into the solo alternative / emo scene, Mikee compliments Matranga’s work brilliantly. Previously in Engineer Records bands, The Sketch and now Call off the Search, he not only makes an equally great contribution to the EP, but also adds that little something special. A beautiful acoustic arrangment with the gentle touch of key and strings. Effortless vocals and great lyrics – perfect for those long summer days.

It’s the EP made to make you smile. Countrysides is honest, chirpy and definitely worth a listen. Their UK tour begins on the 26th May in Kingston – a must see gig this summer.

http://rach-itstimetoexplore.blogspot.com/2011/04/country

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