While the current landscape of Seattle music depicts an ever-increasing embrace of alt-country sounds and rich and fuzzy ’70s folk rock, it wasn’t that long ago that the loud, the spastic and the intense ruled the Emerald City. The Murder City Devils, Botch, Juno, These Arms Are Snakes, Hint Hint and especially The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves defined Seattle as the land of heavy-hitting but surprisingly fun post-hardcore. Of course, most of these bands have since split (the notable exception being These Arms Are Snakes), but with the emergence of Jaguar Love, ex-Blood Brothers Cody Votolato and Johnny Whitney, and Pretty Girls Make Graves’ J Clark are taking their prior bands’ spastic rock acrobatics into new and more playful realms.
Aesthetically speaking, Jaguar Love retains many of the qualities that made The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves so compelling to begin with: strong melodies, big guitars, a touch of glam-rock sass and, of course, Whitney’s overdose-on-helium vocals. Where Jaguar Love diverges from both bands’ paths is in the songwriting. The three tracks featured on the band’s debut EP are certainly loud and powerful, but focus less on aggressive breakdowns or furious rhythms as they do on melodic urgency and an anthemic sensibility.
“Highways of Gold” opens the EP with a combination of dense walls of guitar and ultra-catchy melodies. Yet while the fierce power of before is still front and center, the trio sounds much more in tune with a band like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, utilizing attitude and energy for greater accessibility. “My Organ Sounds Like…” comes on more like a glam-rock ballad, with glimmer and swagger, and Whitney wailing in registers higher than one could ever guess an adult male might reach. Closing off the EP is “Videotape Seascape,” a song that trumpets its arrival with gigantic riffs that resonate strongly, due to the absence of bass, but nonetheless drive the song mightily toward its incredible chorus.
The three songs on Jaguar Love’s debut EP reveal a vast potential for a band that seems to look forward while still incorporating elements of its members’ pasts. More importantly, it shows that growing and evolving as an artist doesn’t mean having to abandon that which makes you exciting in the first place.
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Pretty Girls Make Graves EP
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is
The Mae Shi – Hlllyh
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.