Friday, April 28, 2017, 8 PM
Bar None, 245 S 5th St, Springfield IL
JC Brooks had been known to explore a node of soul with inspiration from the softer side of punk rock. However, much has changed since the release of his 2013 album, Howl. Not only has Brooks dropped his band's name, Uptown Sound, but his old label as well.
Howl's popular single "Rouse Yourself". (Yes, that is Aubrey Plaza and New Girl's Jake Johnson.)
Now recording and publishing as simply, "JC Brooks", under the Rock Ridge Music label, the band's current tour is set to launch it's newest album, The Neon Jungle. As the name vividly suggests, it is largely influenced by the metropolitan nightlife in their home of Chicago. While many aspects of the band have changed and been revised, the soulful staple of their sound is as strong as ever. Subjectively, the post-punk flavoring has taken a back seat while JC Brooks has come to embrace elements of the ever trending styles of contemporary R&B and disco. The album's art is also clearly influenced by a yearning of florescent retro-futurism.
"Heartbeat"- The Neon Jungle
The thematic scope of the album paints a picture of the perfect night out. As the weather shifts warmer and clothes get lighter, Rock Ridge hits the perfect timing for a lively spring/summer release. Brook's delivers smooth, persuasive lyrics such as "...no time for regret. we've got one night only...", and "We live like we will never die. Can't be satisfied.". Musically accompanied with the nostalgia educing sounds of funky electric bass licks and synth bridges that are a direct callback to pop culture 25+ years ago. The Neon Jungle is more than snapshot of today's escapist longings of another time; it is the reemergence of a band through their own city's nightlife, in which they are so familiar with.
While some could view this type of switch as an abandonment of the band's original vision; it is also inherently a natural strength of being an artist, being able to explore untapped veins of inspiration. After all, musicians are cool, and what is cool is always fleeting. So my hat is off to JC Brooks, as it is wise for all artists to recognize the era in which they reside.