Chicago has a lot of amazing bands — White Mystery, Smith Westerns, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir — but with all these incredible garage and indie bands, it’s easy to forget that Chicago is also home of jazz, the blues, gospel and soul music, and JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound are easily one of the best soul bands in town. And since Five Tunes’ HQ is in Uptown, Chicago, we’ve got some pride to have our neighborhood’s moniker tacked onto the name of an amazing soul band.
The beat, guitar stabs, and lyrical themes are steeped in that rock-tinged funk of Sly Stone and James Brown. Hell, “Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn” might as well be the new “Chocolate City.” But Brooks’ voice is amazing. Hearing him sing with the band is like when Jerry Wexler had Don Covay record “Sookie Sookie” with Booker T. & The MG’s at Stax.
And do you know another soul band that does a cover of a Wilco song?
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – “Get It Together” (new single)
The Uptown Sound will be headlining “A Very Soulful X-Mas Revue” this Saturday (Dec. 12) at the Double Door. All proceeds go to Second City’s Letters to Santa program (which you may have heard about recently). Listen to soul music, help some children. Here’s five from JC.
1) Amy Winehouse – “Take The Box (Headquarters Mix)” (from The Other Side of Amy Winehouse)- “I love this lady’s voice — the tone and timbre aside, her runs are not only perfect, but they seem even more so because they’re inventive. She hits notes in a run that for a split second don’t seem to work and then resolves them beautifully. This tune has a really vibe-y early-mid-’90s R&B feel and great lyrics.”
2) TNT Boys – “Musica Del Alma” (from Sex Symbols) – “I caught this on the radio the other day and loved how these guys cribbed on Archie Bell’s ‘Tighen Up.’ It’s a refreshing take on a song that, for me, has gotten a little worn.”
3) Anita Baker – “Love You To The Letter” (from Compositions) – “I love the jazz-soul and Anita is one of the best at it. Most of her best work sounds a bit dated now (early ’80s synth-driven jazz’n’b) but I love it still. This is a slower, more traditional jazz ballad.”
4) Gorillaz – “Dirty Harry (Schtung Chinese New Year Remix)” (from D-Sides) – “I just dig this song (this remix in particular) because it helps my work day to move along. It’s cool, engaging and isn’t too distracting for the amount of go it provides.”
5) The Apples In Stereo – “Go” (from Discovery of a World Inside the Moone) – “A favorite from way back. I stole this cd from my college’s radio station when I was dj-ing as a freshman. This song is the perfect accompaniment to some film’s nitrous montage. What first caught me about this song is that the intro disarms you with a sort of mindless, happy, dork-rock feel and as the verse hits the track hops to this funky breaks territory, without sacrificing the joy of the previous section to the cool of the breakbeat or the suddenly far-groovier bassline.”