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Monday, 10 June 2013 09:00

Charting the Music: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, 'Howl'

Charting the Music: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, 'Howl' facebook.com/JCBrooksandtheUptownSound‎
Written by Kelly Cunningham
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JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound wail their strikingly personal lyrics and take an edgy approach on their new album "Howl."

With a sound that's quite different from the group's previous releases, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound's new album "Howl" trades straight-up funk for intense emotion with an R&B feel.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #1 Adult Album Alternative and #2 CMJ for May 28, 2013.

Can be heard on: Hip City with Chris Lawyer, Memphis to Manchester with John Wendland and Train of Thought with Nick Cowan.

Record label, release date and producer: "Howl" was released on Bloodshot Records on May 21, 2013 and was produced by Howard Bilerman.

Hometown: Brooks is from Chicago and often gets compared to other Chicago-affiliated singers like Sam Cooke and Syl Johnson.

Standout tracks: The title track jumpstarts with Brooks' crooning voice securing the intoxicating tone for the rest of the album. The song "Before You Die" however, will get listeners dancing in their seats, even if the lyrics aren't the typical, upbeat themes of funk.

About the band: While they are primarily known for their soulful sound, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound's music incorporates other influences ranging from indie rock to R&B. The new album explores a deeper side to lost love and getting back in the game with intimate lyrics. The young band got started when Brooks responded to a Craigslist ad posted by guitarist Billy Bungeroth in 2007. The other members include drummer Kevin Marks, keyboardist Andy Rosenstein and bassist Ben Taylor.

Notable lyrics: Brooks' lyrics show the band's drive toward a gritty, R&B album where listeners will snap their fingers in synch to the soulful, truth-bearing words: "If we had forever / I hope we'd just get better / that's why it's such a shame / the ways we stay the same" (from the song "Rouse Yourself").

Play it while: You are going through an emotional time and want to release some energy by belting out to some hip-swinging tunes.

Did you know?: JC Brooks started out as an actor, which contributes to the band's unforgettable shows, with the Washington Post raving that "JC Brooks looks and performs like a cross between Chuck Berry and H.R. of Bad Brains in their primes, but his skintight R&B and post-punk soul upend expectations of a retro act."

What the critics say: "Never lets go of its rock bloodlines and stays Soul with its rhythm and the fire in the belly of its delivery…'Howl' is the sound of Soul expanding." -- The Alternate Root

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