Jaguar Love – Take Me to the Sea
Record Label: Matador Records
Release Date: April 19, 2008
If these irritatingly lovable vocals sound familiar to you, there’s a reason. This is Cody Votolato and Johnny Whitney’s third band together within the last few years (Blood Brothers, Neon Blonde), and they’ve done very little to switch up their frontman formula. However, on the bright side, they’ve done very little to switch up their frontman formula. Take Me to the Sea is just absolutely ridiculous in all the right ways, and it’ll dry the tears of Blood Brothers mourners everywhere.
Obviously in ditching the other members of their decade-spanning cult-favorite group but still sticking together themselves, Votolato and Whitney were looking to redefine themselves. That explains Neon Blonde, their piano based indie-dance group, but Jaguar Love sounds exactly like what the Blood Brothers would have sounded like in 2008 – this is a totally logical follow up to Young Machetes in every way. It’s got a lot of not-typically-punk flourishes, sure, but it’s probably more straight forward than Crimes (and it’s a lot better of an album, too.)
Augmenting the lineup slightly, drummer Jay Clark (formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves) adds a nice backbone here, never overly showy but definitely talented and interesting. You’ll probably forget he’s even there as the other two tend to steal the show, but he’s credited with some bass and keyboard playing as well so give the man his due. This isn’t really a percussionist’s album anyway; it’s a chorus album, and choruses there are a-plenty. Just like any Blood Brothers fan would expect, Take Me to the Sea is just a very exciting album – it definitely gets you involved and singing along, even though there is no goddamn way you can reach those falsetto notes*.
“Vagabond Ballroom” rocks, guided by Whitney’s ridiculous scream, some seriously creepy guitar, and an explosive chorus – listen for the organ freakout towards the end. But it’s tracks like “Bats Over the Pacific Ocean” that’ll surprise you the most with its stripped down, folky sound. Thanks to the bells over the chorus, you could definitely picture somebody like Feist singing on this tune. It really is incredible that Whitney’s scream and Votolato’s shaky mumbling can fit so well, basically unchanged, in a new environment such as this.
Of course, Take Me to the Sea has the potential to be very, very hated by plenty of people. The vocals will take some getting used to if you haven’t already heard them, and even after that, this group can’t be everybody’s cup of tea. But if you’ve got any interest in the Blood Brothers or if you’re tired of hearing the same kinds of groups over and over under the heading of ‘Indie Rock’, this should be right up your alley.
an 8.75 in lasting value? really? do you honestly see this album being listenable in 5 years? or even 3 years for that matter? this band is fun, as were the blood brothers, and i loved the blood brothers and like this band, but theres no way this stuff will be relevant for very long.
For me it's kind of like a lot of people's beef with the current incarnation of Don Cab, although it has to do with change in aesthetic rather than personnel alterations: I lost interest in TBB after Burn, Piano Island, Burn because they too explicitly embraced their cabaret influences. Yet with this, because there's no TBB tag, I can stomach it.