JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound “Want More”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#560 in the Series) is  JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Want More (Bloodshot Records)– NEW MUSIC REVIEW

Not since The White Album has an album been more appropriately named than Want More, the groups second album, and first since signing with the eclectically cool record label Bloodshot Records, from the Chicago based neo-soul band JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.

Consider yourself warned, with the look of a slightly aged Sam Cooke along with his Otis Redding with an edge vocal style, JC Brooks and his band are poised to kidnap your ears, grab your feet, borrow your soul, and take you down a retro rabbit hole you haven’t travelled since James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Johnny “Guitar” Watson.  The sound is pure Stax soul peppered with Motown (when they were good) funk, along with a healthy dose of Memphis Horns swagger courtesy of their own Lowdown Horns.

The title track “Want More” leads off the album with a couple of rambunctious drum riffs followed by a guttural “c’mon” courtesy of J.C., and we are off. The passionate vocals are crystal clear over a bed of guitar, healthy horns, some groovy organ playing that would make Booker T. blush, and a cowbell for desert.

“Everything will be fine” showcases the musical chops of the band particularly the excellent guitar playing of Billy Bungeroth who invokes his inner Stevie Ray almost threatening to take it over the top until he eloquently scales things back and allows the rest of the band to catch up.  The production value on this album really shows here with just the right mix of vocals to instrumentation.

On the more upbeat and faster paced “I Get High” JC moves his vocal instrument up a couple of levels into Curtis Mayfield territory. The classically Motown inspired song is proof positive that the band is not merely imitating the soul stirrers of the past, but rather creating a soul gumbo that is uniquely their own.

“Wicked” Wilson Picket makes an appearance in spirit on the supremely danceable “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”.  This turned upside down version of the Wilco song really shows the cohesiveness of the band and their innate ability to put their own spin on contemporary songs, a trait that will only serve to enhance their reputation has a hot-blooded live act.

Brooks goes to the “hot foot” and pulls a little James Brown from the deck on “Baaadnews”, then follows that up with his talented roll down to the “Dock of the Bay” courtesy of the Otis Redding inspired “Missing You” that sounds so much like The Band that Bob Dylan could have performed it on Songs From the Big Pink.

“Sister Ray Charles” is one of those smoldering slow burner songs with the obvious Ray Charles vibe, along with the organ playing with the rest of the band kicking in that quickly brings the song to a symphonic crescendo that abruptly ends after JC holds what seems to be a ten second note, leaving you out of breath.

The otherwise very upbeat and funky album finishes with “Awake”, a beautiful call to arms anti-war ballad that puts all of the previous songs in perspective and leaves you “Wanting More”

“Want More” was produced by Jimmy Sutton, who also adds some guitar on the disc.

As a music fan with the year already 11 months old, I have been holding an internal debate over many sleepless nights as to which album is the best of 2011. The choice has not been very easy with a lot of deserving candidates including mini masterpieces by Tom Waits, Deer Tick, Iron & Wine, Garland Jeffreys, Mimi Betinis and many more.

I am happy to report that that, for me, the search is over. Wanting More by JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound is the winner.

Goodnight and happy listening.

— Walt Falconer

Track Listing

  1. Want More (Brooks, Sutton) 3:06
  2. Everything Will Be Fine (Bungeroth) 3:29
  3. I Got High (Bungeroth) 3:322
  4. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Tweedy) 3:33
  5. Don’t Lock the Door (Brooks, Bungeroth) 3:24
  6. Baaadnews (Brooks, BUngeroth, Marks, Taylor) 2:58
  7. To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You) (Kennedy) 4:03
  8. I Can See Everything (Brooks, Sutton, Bungeroth, Marks, Taylor0)   2:46
  9. Missing Things (Bungeroth) 3:55
  10. Sister Ray Charles (Brooks, Bungeroth, Marks, Taylor)3:25
  11. Awake (Bungeroth) 3:20


JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound

  • JC Brooks – Vocals
  • Billy Bungeroth – Guitar, Vocals
  • Kevin Marks – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
  • Ben Taylor – Bass,  Vocals

Additional Personnel

  • Anthony Abbinanti – Percussion, Sax
  • David Agee – Conga
  • Andrew Zelm – Trombone
  • Renaldo Domino – Vocals
  • Marcus Gentry – Vocals
  • Gerald Bailey –  Trumpet
  • Yuriy Geyer – Violin
  • Alex Hall – Conga, Organ, Piano, Wurlitzer
  • David Keller – Cello
  • Nate Lepine – Sax
  • Chris Neal -, Piano, Sax
  • Andy Rosenstein – Vocals
  • Jimmy Sutton – Guitar, Producer


Give a listen to some tunes from JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound

Posted by Larry Carta

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