JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
Beat of Our Own Drum
JC Brooks comes from Chicago, but recently played at the Yacht Club, and from all reports, burned the joint down. I wasn’t able to make it out to that show, but this CD gives me a strong idea of the sort of fireworks of which these guys are capable. First of all, JC Brooks has a voice and half — maybe two or three. I can hear hints of Prince, Little Richard, and even Lou Rawls in his voice. The guy was born to make the girls cry and get men into knife fights.
From the “Stereo 360 Sound” Logo pirated from Columbia Records to the sharp suits, these guys are consciously going for a Retro-soul vibe. While that’s great theater, it’s a little bit of a straight-jacket. Sure “Love One Another” sounds great, like Otis Redding sweating one out at Stax studio. But you can still hear Otis himself — I hear he’s still holding it down on iTunes. On some of these songs, I can appreciate how hard they work at trying to capture that ’60s soul vibe, but I want them to find their own voice.
And occasionally they do, as on “75 Years of Art Sex,” which owes more to Television and Talking Heads than Muscle Shoals. Those little bits of punk rock that poke through make this record. On the instrumental number “How To Stop Loving Someone,” they obviously had The Meters on their mind, but the guitar is just a little too loud and the back beat too hip hoppy to be a mere imitation. And sometimes, as on the ballad “Here Comes the Fall,” they manage to fully embrace soul music and transcend mere re-creation or imitation. These guys obviously have enough talent for 10 bands, and the best tracks on this CD make mincemeat out of the other neo-soul poseurs.