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Jaguar Love - Take Me to the Sea

Released on Matador Records, 8/19/2008

Following the breakup of their former band, The Blood Brothers, Johnny Witney (vocals/keyboards) and Cody Votolato (guitar/bass) decided to rise from the ashes and form a new band. Joined by ex-Pretty Girls Makes Graves’ guitarist J Clark, now finding himself behind the drum kit, as well as adding additional keyboards and bass, Jaguar Love was born.

During the winter of 2008, the band hunkered down in Seattle and began recording what would become Take Me to the Sea. The album, produced by Clark, may draw some similarities from the members' former flames but what you’ll hear is wholly original. On the surface the band may appear like just another spaz-rock group but unlike many their contemporaries, Jaguar Love is built upon solid foundations of good-old fashioned hooks, melodies and, well, pop.

Take "Jaguar Pirates", for instance, which sounds like classic At the Drive-In with Votolato’s chugging, staccato guitar and Clark’s schizophrenic drumming anchoring the incredibly tight arrangement. Or there’s "Bats over the Pacific Ocean", a folk song constantly trying to outrun itself. Perhaps the most surprising, and consequently most charming, song of the bunch is "Georgia", a ballad of classic proportions which, if slowed down just a touch, could find its way seamlessly onto any Faces album.

The only drawback is Witney’s high, screeching and often unintelligible singing. While not a total turnoff, it is definitely an acquired take and can be off putting upon first listen. Yet, the music is inviting enough to warrant another listen. And another.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars