For over a decade, Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato were members of the Seattle aggregate The Blood Brothers, a band whose immolation of the hardcore blueprint and a forward-in-all-directions aesthetic gained them a league of ardent fans. As a member of Pretty Girls Make Graves, J Clark brought noise, texture and pop sensibilities to three albums before the band adjourned two years ago.

When The Blood Brothers went out on what would be their final European tour, Clark accompanied the band as a stage tech. As stress fractures were becoming apparent in the Blood camp, the three struck up a friendship, a “new rocking alliance”, if you will. Eschewing such antiquated concepts as the farewell tour, posthumous releases and specially designed commemorative laminates, singer Whitney and guitarist Votolato began writing songs in the spring of 2007, and were soon joined in the new venture by multi-instrumentalist Clark.

“Jaguar Love was a name we could all agree on,” Whitney says. “We wanted to find a name that had a positive feel without being corny.”

Whitney describes the winter 2008 recording sessions for Take Me To The Sea as “insular and liberating.” In addition to their respective roles, Whitney contributed keyboards and Votolato played some bass. But for all intents and purposes, Clark was the ship’s captain, playing drums, bass and keyboards, as well as supervising all of the recording, mixing and engineering for the disc at Seattle’s Two Sticks Audio (producer John Goodmanson was called in to assist with recording the drums).

When new groups are spawned from the members of respected ones, the results can be somewhat tenuous (ask any aging prog-rocker who bought that first Asia album). Sure, as Blood Brothers, Whitney’s idiosyncratic vocals were jarring and exhausting, while Votolato generated six-stringed righteousness that seemingly channeled Greg Ginn, Captain Beefheart or Andy Gill (sometimes all in one song). Likewise, Clark's guitar and keyboard work lifted Pretty Girls past expected 'indie' signifiers. With resumes that are completely above reproach. It was essential that Jaguar Love find a balance between their new music as well as reconciling listeners’ pre-conceived notions of how said music should/could sound.

“I think anytime anyone approaches a new record by any group of musicians expecting it to be similar to a previous recording, they are setting themselves up for disappointment,” says Whitney. “Yes Jaguar Love is much different than any Blood Brothers or Pretty Girls Make Graves records, but there are going to be some inevitable similarities. We definitely set out to write some songs with pop sensibilities, as opposed to the unhinged quality of our previous bands. When you listen to songs like ‘Jaguar Pirates,’ ‘Humans Evolve Into Skyscrapers’ or ‘Vagabond Ballroom,’ we haven’t abandoned [our past] entirely.”

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Highways of Gold
Jaguar Love
[2008] [7-inch]

Highways of Gold
[Highways of Gold]