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Friday, 11 November 2011 10:11

Album review: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound 'Want More' and get more + Video

Album review: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound 'Want More' and get more
Written by Francisco Fisher
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JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
"Want More"
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The Chicago-based quartet is back in a big way with the release of its second album, "Want More."

Members of JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound have skills beyond their years, but they are very much in tune with the present. They give the soul renaissance a modern edge with cross-genre instrumentation and contemporary lyrics.

For example, their new album features an upbeat adaptation of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart," which is more than just a cover -- it's a triumph of imagination.

The strange humor of "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" appeals to JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound as the lyrics sort of fit in among the original songs. In "Don't Lock the Door," Brooks sings, "You've got a hold on my soul; I hope that was your goal." And in "Everything Will Be Fine," he repeats the line "It's not relevant if you're not speaking."

While the songwriting is memorable on its own, Brooks is also a dynamic vocalist who unleashes a crisp falsetto (that shines the most in "I Got High") or lowers the register with a gravely timbre as in "Sister Ray Charles." The group as a whole makes "Sister Ray Charles" into a highlight of the album; the song begins with a gritty electric organ and works its way up to a full, massive sound that effectively uses the potential of the studio, not to mention Brooks' impressive vocal range.

Fans of the group should be familiar with songs from "Want More" because many of them have been featured in the group's live sets along with songs from their debut, "Beat Of Our Own Drum," which was released in 2009. That album contained the single, "Baltimore is the New Brooklyn," a track that utilized the same brand of wry songwriting mentioned earlier.

Like their previous release, "Want More" is an outstanding package that captures the energy and excitement of JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. It showcases a vision of modern soul while pacing the album with a couple of slower, but equally intensified songs that include "Missing Things." All in all, it makes for a great go-to CD to keep in the car, though the album probably sounds best on vinyl with a good pair of headphones and a martini.

For the fullest experience, however, you must see this band live. The group recently returned from a month-long European tour and wasted no time hitting the road at home. KDHX welcomes the band to Off Broadway on December 10, 2011, so check out the new album, get tickets to the show and see what all the fuss is about.

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