JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound showed their Soul, and presented it in all its best beats and poses on their debut Want More. The band was Soul music as defined by a rock’n’roll band. The blend of Rock and Soul stuck to the template formed in the early 1960’s, guitar, bass, keys and drums backing a front person with style and a show. For JCBUS, that frontman was Jayson Brooks. Their live shows were performances to remember, and the music was true to its origins and brought into the contemporary Indie world by mixing punk roots into the soulful sound that is JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound default.
On the second Bloodshot release (their third album release), Howl, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound still lead with their Soul, and take the sound further, showing all that it can be in a world primed for Indie Soul. The album was recorded in Montreal with producer Howard Bilerman, whose impressive Canadian rock production resume includes Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Howl shouts its name in the album-title opener as JC and guitar man Billy Bungeroth duet with voice and instruments before Billy chops his chords into rhythm and JC simply coos and, like the title suggests, throws back his head and howls. The tune never lets go of its rock bloodlines and stays Soul with its rhythm and the fire in the belly of its delivery.
The third album for The Uptown Sound takes a big chance in its songs. The confidence and bravado of Soul fuels the way the songs are put together. “Security” uses its instrumentation to provide diverse rhythms that act as foundation for the tune. Love is shown in the songs of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound in all its dark longings. “Before You Die” skitters on a guitar chord rhythm that grabs and holds on and “River” is gospel Soul that traces its groove back to Memphis and the vocals of Reverend Al Green and Sam Cooke. “Cold” is Soul Pop begging for a Broadway stage; “Married for a Week” finds its beat early on and rides it through the track like it was on a tsunami of a wave, and “Rouse Yourself” pulls love in with some shiny lines and heartbeat drumming.
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound combine JC Brooks’ starkly personal lyrics with the band’s ability to not second-guess their Soul sound evolution. The grooves fall onto the album from the willingness of The Uptown Sound to bare all their influences. Howl is the sound of Soul expanding. Danny McCloskey/RA
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