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Jaguar Love: Take Me to The Sea

Jaguar Love: Take Me to The Sea

Release Date:2008

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 8/27/2008

Johnny Whitney may be in possession of the most distinctive voice in contemporary indie rock--a near-hysterical, helium-injected falsetto that seems to portend Armageddon's swift approach. His inimitable nasal screech helped define the Blood Brothers' oppressively riotous post-hardcore until that band broke up last year. Jaguar Love, his new project with ex-Blood Brother Cody Votolato and ex- Pretty Girls Make Graves member Jay Clark, finds Whitney dialing the histrionics down to suit the trio's relatively broader musical palette.

Take Me to the Sea announces Jaguar Love as its own entity right at the outset. "Highways of Gold" churns, to be sure, but this jumbled tumult actually deigns to carry a tune: Votolato and Whitney running twin, blazing guitar blitzes while Clark's keyboards pick away at a countermelody with surgical precision. Better yet--and uncharacteristically--Whitney's vocals surge in time with the song instead of jizzing wildly all over and against it. More unlikely still, waltz-time wonder "Bonetrees and a Broken Heart" hits like a 1950s girl-group send-up; "Georgia" packs all the staggering, wide screen-epiphany grandeur of a great Rod Stewart single; "My Organ Sounds Like . . . " vibrates with 1980s synth-pop brio--until it shape-shifts into a Fiery Furnaces gin-joint number.

Naturally, given Jaguar Love's pedigree, the band leaves space for punk-outs: Bristling, splintered, and pogo-fugly "Vagabond Ballroom" and "Antoine and Birdskull" are the closest Sea comes to kowtowing to those holding out for the Blood Brothers to re-unite. But even these ragers lack that anarchistic kill-'em-all instinct the Brothers embodied; Jaguar Love's phasers are set on stun, not annihilate, and that bodes well for those of us who've always dug on wild-out Whitney but hoped he'd turn the intensity down a couple notches for the sake of everyone's sanity.

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