Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Parades Burst from Your Brain, Plaid Haired Girls Call Your Name -- Jaguar Love

This is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult thing to write about as I go through my slew of purchases from the few days I photographed previously. This is actually a 3-song EP released in 2008 by Jaguar Love before they had completed an album. I bought it because I owned both of their albums, 2008's Take Me to the Sea and 2010's Hologram Jams and this was the only track left I did not own. Chaz over at Bull City Records had a copy in his discounted new CDs and I'd picked up Take Me to the Sea from him on vinyl not long before that, so it was a given (much like picking up The Hookers, the band The Murder City Devils were formed from, which Chaz emphasized--no surprise, as we first met minds over my purchase of the Devils' In Name and Blood on vinyl from his store at its old location, on my first ever Record Store Day). So, easy: one track. Not question about where to start on that, of course! Catchy as hell, if you like Johnny's vocals (which I do!). "Black water, in a crystal skull/Drink deep, hallucinate an ancient ocean/Black water, flowing out your mouth..."

Now, I guess the next question--easy to tell, but lengthy--is who are Jaguar Love?

Well, I have actually mentioned them before, and indeed briefly relayed their history. Jaguar Love, at the time of this EP, was composed of Johnny Whitney, Cody Votolato (younger brother of more famous Rocky Votolato) and Jay "J." Clark. Now here we practically need a chart, but I'd spend too much time on it and it would look terrible anyway, so bear with me. Johnny and Cody were most famously in the Blood Brothers, an extremely strange, experimental and abrasive post-hardcore band from Washington (the state) who broke up in 2006 after releasing their fifth album, Young Machetes.

Cody played guitar in both bands, and Johnny sang in both, as well as in another splinter band, Neon Blonde. Neon Blonde released one album and one EP in 2005, before the Blood Brothers broke up, but were also composed of "alumni": Johnny, of course, and drummer Mark Gajadhar. Mark handled all the percussive elements and Johnny did, well, everything else (with the exception of the saxophone's occasional appearances, by Joel Caplin). Neon Blonde is, by far, the weirdest, with Johnny's voice at one point accompanied by drums and piano and nothing else. Jay Clark remixed a Neon Blonde song on their EP Headlines, thus foreshadowing his later appearance in Jaguar Love.¹

I started it all, though, from the Blood Brothers. I picked up most of their latter era albums, beginning with Crimes and following with Young Machetes, ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn, and March on Electric Children because they were re-issued by major punk label Epitaph in "deluxe" editions with extra discs of live shows, concert video and b-sides. I was still working at Borders at the time and had never heard of them, but darned if they didn't look interesting, and the idea of these albums being re-released and completely unheard of fascinated me. The prices were solid, too--MSRPs for deluxes at around $16, so I just went for it. I didn't regret it, and later picked up This Adultery Is Ripe, their first album and Rumors Laid Waste, the collection of their early 7"s and splits.

I heard that after they broke up, Johnny had formed these other bands (of course, I found out Neon Blonde was formed before they broke up, but nevermind!) and happened to stumble into Hologram Jams around that time. Clark had actually left the band at this point, leaving it Cody and Johnny and a drum machine for even live performance.

That's about as close as you can get to understanding what the logic behind looking into a band no one has ever mentioned to me and I've never heard of is. It's rough and odd and somewhat arbitrary--though the idea that a reissue of an entire indie catalogue is somewhat leading, to be fair.

And yes, I realize Johnny's voice is utterly repellent to many people. I really (sincerely!) like it, though.

¹Let's be really amusing here:
The first Blood Brothers EP was recorded in the "soft underbelly of the Jake Snider Residence." Jake Snider was the vocalist/guitarist for Sharks Keep Moving, and currently fronts Minus the Bear. Minus the Bear's most famous guitarist is doubtless Dave Knudson, though, who was in Botch. Further, Clark's prior gig was Pretty Girls Make Graves, whose first EP was released on Dim Mak Records, who released all of Neon Blonde's work. Pretty Girls, of course, were a sort of splinter from the Murder City Devils, who formed from the Hookers, whose drummer became Pretty Girls' vocalist. Apparently, if you're from Seattle and in a band, everyone knows everyone and played in their band, their bandmate's band, or their brother's, or produced it, or shared a label. It's kind of mind-blowing.

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