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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, February 26

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Album Wed May 22 2013

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound Continue to Evolve Their Funk with New Album


I've been following the rising star of Chicago neo-soulsters JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound for a while now, and (besides being one of my favorite bands with an ampersand) I'm not ashamed to say the band always gets my booty out on the dance floor. With their new album Howl out this week on Bloodshot Records, the band takes on the next phase of their musical journey, with a somewhat more mature and (not a little bit) darker point-of-view.

The album's debut single, "Rouse Yourself" is at first a catchy tune, with a soulful darker side hiding in the lyrics. (Check it out for yourself, below.)

The songs on Howl continue the band's modern interpretation of soul and funk stylings, but without the retro homage you could feel radiating off the band's 2011 debut Want More. The band entertains with catchy rhythms while presenting a deeper lyrical layer just perfect for the discerning indie music set. Tunes like "Ordinary" and "Before You Die" (that has the catchy/creepy refrain "Before you die / girl, give me your number") are dark and serious for pop tunes, but man I can't keep but tapping my toes. Is that weird? (Nah.) In other places, the album takes time out for introspection, like in "River" which feels like a self-examination. "The river is varied / it goes from high to low" could be talking about the subject's emotional state, or the process of writing the song itself. And right after it, "Cold" could nearly be a Broadway tune, with a singular piano behind Brooks' vocals. You can almost feel the heat from the single spotlight on the stage. "We're afraid of what they'll say," Brooks croons, "I've built the thickest skin that the world has ever known." Is this song about a love affair, or a hope for musical and professional acceptance? Indeed, the title track "Howl" seems to dabble in these themes as well.

There's enough thoughtfulness in JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound's new songs to keep them interesting over multiple plays, and plenty of talent behind the instruments (which definitely includes Brooks' pipes) to keep you hitting repeat on the album. I'm really looking forward to hearing this one on the radio all summer while cruising around Chicago. Just don't mind my singing along if you pull up beside me.

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will celebrate their album release with a Saturday night show at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave. Yoko And The Oh No's, The Ye Ye's, and Absolutely Not open the show. Lobby doors open at 7:30pm, music starts at 9pm. Tickets are $28. Show is 18+.

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BG / May 23, 2013 1:23 PM

I like the article but Howl is actually the band's third LP. The Beat of Our Own Drum (on Rabbit Factory records) is first and Want More is second (Bloodshot Records).

Anne / May 24, 2013 5:08 PM

Thanks, BG! I tweaked the headline. My bad!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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