JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound have always been soulmen with rock ‘n’ roll hearts. When they dig into the gritty loam of down-and-dirty soul à la Stax, it’s pretty impressive–funky with a little edge. On their newest record Howl, Brooks & The Uptown Sound go the other direction, smoothing out some of the edges, revealing a razor-sharp R&B outfit, and a sweet ‘n’ polished pop band as well.
The band started in Chicago back in 2007. Frontman JC Brooks was an actor when he joined up with guitarist Billy Bungeroth. Drummer Kevin Marks, bassist Ben Taylor, and keyboard player Andy Rosenstein also came on board. They released their first record Beat of Our Own Drum in 2009. They joined the roster of Bloodshot Records, and released their sophomore album Want More in 2011. Howl came out early this summer and it opens with the title track. Despite the name of the band, the Uptown Sound slip definite downtown, jazzy feel into the song. It snakes and creeps through lonely alleys and dark, steam-drenched streets. Brooks displays impressive vocal range: from his falsetto oohs to a low, crooning purr. It’s alluring, and smooth, but it still has some of that rock ‘n’ roll bite.
You can catch JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at ACL Fest 2013: