One of my favorite albums of 2013 was JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound‘s third album Howl. I was already a fan of the band and their cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” was a smart, if calculated play to get some attention from the Indie Rock crowd.
But for me, the more sparse, stripped down– both musically and emotionally– approach of Howl was eye-opening. The album is reminiscent of 80’s soul like Fine Young Cannibals or Terence Trent D’Arby and maybe a little like The Smiths at times (particularly the guitars). The video for “Rouse Yourself” is really great with Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson in it.
JC and band have been in the studio recently working on their fourth album. Brooks told me that they would be performing some of the new songs on their upcoming live dates, which includes a stop in Cedar Rapids at CSPS in New Bohemia on Friday night! This will be the first time I’m seeing the band live, and I can’t think of a better place to catch them. Beautiful, big, room with a cozy bar on the side with great beer on tap and wine. If you haven’t been to CSPS yet this would be a great first show!
In addition to having a pretty cute band name, Fitz and the Tantrumsseem to have really taken the scene by storm in their relatively short existence. The story goes that frontman Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick rescued a vintage keyboard from someone who needed to leave town quickly. The keyboard was the inspriation that Fitz needed to start writing the keyboard-fueled R&B that is the signature of Fitz and the Tantrums. A chance hearing by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine gained them a gig opening for his band on tour. Another opportunity performing on Daryl Hall’s “Live From Daryl’s House” online video series, a spot on Carson Daily and some choice placement of songs on a couple of TV shows and you have a formula for a band that is enjoying a meteoric rise. Having a shit-hot single and stylish video in “Moneygrabber” doesn’t hurt any either!
As luck would have it, the L.A. band is going to be visiting the tundra-like Midwest at the beginning of February with some Play B-Sides connections in the mix.
On Saturday, February 5th Fitz and Co. will be headlining a gig in Chicago at The Metro with JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and Play B-Sides extended familyThe Right Now! That is a powerhouse lineup of Soul and R&B and my pick for a not-to-be-missed show on the Windy City’s calendar. This is a rare show for a while for The Right Now as they are holed up in their secret hideaway writing songs for their sophomore release. The few songs they’ve already trotted out on tour last year show promise for a suitable follow-up to Carry Me Home— a Play B-Sides Top 20 of 2010.
On the following Monday they will make the trip to Iowa, and play a gig at the Redstone Room with opening actBermuda Report which features the vocals of former Diplomette Abby Sawyer. Bermuda Report snagged a spot in my Top 10 releases I’m looking forward to in 2011 with their upcoming full-length due this year.
If that wasn’t enough, they are going to do an all-ages show in Iowa City on Tuesday, 2/3 at The Blue Moose Tap House for a measley $3! WTF? FTW!
So, with all of these opportunities to see Fitz and the Tantrums, get out to see them! Then you can say you “saw them when!”
Here is the video for the fantastic “Moneygrabber”