by ALEXANDRA McCLAIN
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound is a Chicago-based band that channels the classic soul and funk music of the 60s and 70s. Their music is a reminder of a more soulful era that focused on great classic soul and funk artists like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and many early Motown legends. JCBUS is revamping through their own music all the juicy elements that were lost during that classic era.
In October of 2011, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound released their latest album, Want More, on Bloodshot Records. It was the band’s first full album in two years. They are currently on tour and played at Jacksonville’s Jack Rabbits on May 13.
The band is comprised of lead singer JC Brooks, guitarist Billy Bungeroth, drummer Kevin Marks, bassist Ben Taylor and keyboardist Andy Rosenstein. Together, these five gentlemen help bridge an older sound that’s still relevant in today’s music industry with a newer twist. Their music is one huge melting pot of soul, R&B, funk, a little rock and even a hint of bluegrass. JCBUS is the missing puzzle piece to link all the genres together. Their music is sprinkled with a little bit of everything, but the soul and funk can’t be overlooked. If James Brown, Otis Redding and Ray Charles got together and created an offspring, they would birth JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.
JCBUS’s music is often classified as post-punk soul. Their music is more about the attitude and the expressiveness than about trying to create a tune that may be more mainstream and popular. For post-punk soul artists, their music is their craft—something they’ve taken time to create and mold to perfection. The music isn’t just a reflection of their lyrical sound and quality, but of who the band members are as individuals. JCBUS’s music is a direct reflection of their Chicago-based uptown roots. The “in-your-face” and versatile vocals of JC Brooks himself can’t be ignored. The band’s presence is greater than their music. Even their look belies the influence of a greater era of funk and soul music – tailored suits, shades, ties, hard-bottom dress shoes and fedoras – all classic, clean-cut wardrobe pieces.
While their music tends to have an old-school feel, it still remains upbeat and fun enough to be appealing to audiences today. JCBUS’s album proves to be a heavy funk-fest session that ranges from the upbeat swinger tracks such as Want More and Sister Ray Charles, to crooning heartfelt ballads such as Awake and Missing Things. Although it’s clear the band is heavily influenced by a classic era of music, they still manage to add their own twist to things.
Paste Magazine did a good job summing up the band when they said, “JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound describe themselves as a post-punk soul band, but their sound is so much more expansive than that. Uptown Sound is on par with soul musicians from the heyday of the genre’s popularity. They wear clean cut suits and if you didn’t know any better you’d think they were from the 1970s.”
JCBUS is out to make their mark in the industry by revamping music from a simpler time. They’ve managed to channel all the right elements to birth a sound that captures everything unique and timeless about a great era.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
by ALEXANDRA McCLAIN