When: Fri., Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m. 2008
As far back as 2004’s Crimes you could tell the Blood Brothers were tired of pumping out blasts of discordant, chaotic screamo—that album’s my favorite of theirs, in fact, because you can hear them struggling to keep a lid on that shrieking energy as they cheekily flirt with straight-up pop. Jaguar Love is vocalist Johnny Whitney and guitarist Cody Votolato, rebooting and trying to shake off their old band’s baggage (with help from Jay Clark, formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves, on drums, bass, and keys), and it seems their only ground rule is to avoid the noisy hardcore that made them popular in the first place. The new Take Me to the Sea (Matador) is like an album-long game of dress-up, ranging from Mars Volta-style prog-punk to Yeah Yeah Yeahs-style art-garage and even blue-eyed soul balladry, but of all the sounds they try on, the most successful is the least artsy and difficult—they’re great at making simple, brain-infecting treats. The hyperactive folk-pop gem “Bats Over the Pacific Ocean” is still climbing the most-played list in my iTunes months after the band posted it as a free MySpace download.
The Faint’s high-water mark, the 1999 album Blank-Wave Arcade, dropped a couple years before indie kids and ex-punks started hanging out in dance clubs, and although a few of its singles have been grandfathered into the electroclash movement, it never blew up the way it might’ve if it had come out in 2002. It also set a precedent for the band—they continue to have terrible timing vis-a-vis underground music trends. On the new Fasciinatiion (released on their own Blank.wav label) they back away from the prodigious hooks of their previous records to toy with the current incarnation of electro, which is much harder sonically and nods less to pop structures than to the demands of the dance floor. Given how fast shit goes out of fashion in that scene, I have a sinking feeling they’re not too early this time but too late. —Miles Raymer