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I’ve been a fan of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound since I heard their version of Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” They turned a psychedelic, noisy, poem full of beautiful nonsense and turned it into a groovy, smooth, love letter to broken hearts. It opened the door for the band to get signed by Bloodshot Records and high profile spots on festivals, like at Wilco’s own Solid Sound Festival. The video for “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” is at the end of the post.

The band is currently on the road promoting the very good “Howl.” The first single from the album, “Rouse Yourself,” features some of our TV favorites (hello funny people from “Parks and Rec” and “The New Girl”). It is not a cover. Watch and enjoy below.

We asked JC Brooks his five favorite cover songs. We like his cover songs. If you like his songs and/or his taste, say you do at their shows on Friday, November 22 at Black Cat in DC and Saturday, November 23 at The Bell House in Brooklyn.

5. Janelle Monae’s rendition of El DeBarge’s “Time Will Reveal”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-ffFtQrCnY

I remember hearing the original version around the house when I was a kid, & I love that her rendition of it picks up the tempo and changes it from a slow lovers jam to a fun dance song.

4. Anita Baker’s version of The Doobies’ “You Belong To Me”

The Doobies version of this tune is absolutely fucking crucial, and I’m an Anita Baker fan from way back so when I heard this cut on her ‘Rhythm Of Love’ LP, I flipped. She already had a song titled “You Belong To Me” (on Giving You The Best That I Got), and when I first checked it out I was disappointed that it wasn’t a DB cover.

3. Amy Winehouse’s acoustic cover of Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”

This is a gorgeous, classic tune (lyrics/changes) and Carole King is one of the best pop songwriters of the 20th century. I’m not a big fan of the version of this song on “Lioness” but there’s another, super stripped-down acoustic version that is heartbreaking and endearing in its vulnerability, while at the same time not short-changing Winehouse’s vocal prowess. It shows that just a tiny bit of belting and a little melisma can go a long, long way.

2. Joni Mitchell’s version of Annie Ross’ “Twisted” (w/ Cheech & Chong)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKIQSo7JbKQ

Classic song covered by so many (including The Divine Miss M.) but I think that Joni’s take stands up to many of Annie Ross’ versions (which are great in their own right)

1. The Muppets’ take on Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”

Instant smiles. It’s such a chill rolling groove that having the Muppets get silly with it offers a great contrast and can pretty much always make me grin, sing along, muppetdance.

Runner up: Janelle Monae’s version of the Charlie Chaplin tune “Smile”

The very haunting melody contrasts well with the lyrics -this is a song that was made for ‘In Memoriam’ montages… Super minimal arrangement and stellar, yet understated vocals (see: #3 above).

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”

If you’re not a fan after this, listen again. Actually, watch the next video. It’s from a great, long-running dance show for kids and hipsters called “Chic-A-Go-Go.” The show features a puppet named Ratso. Ratso rules. -ed.

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound “Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn”

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