A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Standout album: Out of the Shadow by Rogue Wave

Filed Under: Album Reviews
Written by Brendan
Wednesday October 27, 2010

Rogue Wave - Out Of The ShadowAs happens in the last several months of every year, I’m getting worn out from new music overload, and I’ve been re-exploring stuff in my music catalog from 2004 and 2005. Among the gems that I’ve found is Rogue Wave’s debut album, Out Of The Shadow. If this one isn’t in your collection, I highly recommend you pick it up.

At the time the album was re-released by Sub Pop in 2004, the band consisted of Zack [Schwartz] Rogue, bassist Evan Farrell, drummer Pat Spurgeon and guitarist Gram Lebron, though most of this album was written and recorded by just Schwartz.

The album evokes a gamut of emotions with its stripped down acoustic ballads and full-band, hook-driven pop songs. It has sunny, laid-back California vibes and darker, lonely undertones. There isn’t a misstep or a bad song on the album. Even in places where Schwartz’s lyrics seem trite or pun-based (in this postage stamp world / you can all get in line / and lick my behind), the lush musical accompaniment and the genuine emotion in his voice manage to overcome.

I saw Rogue Wave two or three times between the release of this album and their followup, 2005′s Descended Like Vultures, and they definitely stand out as one of the more entertaining acts from that period. Though I can’t say that I love the direction their most recent two releases have taken, I do think that Out Of The Shadow ranks as one of my favorite pop-rock albums of this decade.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 20, 2010
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

who's bad?

I’ve been a music fan and fiend for nearly my entire life — I can’t think of a time that music didn’t at least partially define who I am or was. But it didn’t occur to me until just recently to start writing about it. So I have to say I was both surprised and amused that after only posting 7 entries to this nascent collection of musical musings, I got an email from a label representative, asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing a soul band with an upcoming show at The Monkey House.

Obviously I jumped at the opportunity, made all the more satisfying by the fact that the band – JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – is really good. Posted below is the first of what I am optimistically expecting to be many such Q&A sessions written here. Without further ado, 7 questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, answered by bassist Ben Taylor except for the question specifically addressed to guitarist Billy Bungeroth:

Q: What are the two most recent live shows you have each been to (other than shows you played at)?

A: The Gossip @ The Barton Theatre, Adelaide, Australia – they happened to be playing there while my wife and I were on our honeymoon. Beth Ditto is the one of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen — she genuinely makes a connection with the audience.

Diplomats of Solid Sound @ Martyrs, Chicago – an amazing soul/jazz group from Iowa City, featuring some great Hammond organ and sax playing, plus the lovely ladies of the Diplomettes singing up front.

Q: Have you met an audience you couldn’t make dance?

A: No, every audience we play for dances. [having listened to a bunch of their music, I'm not at all surprised]

Q: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at your own show, or do you get the same high playing music that others get listening to it?

A: I wish I could see this band. We saw JC sit in with the Diplomats of Solid Sound once and it was mind-bending watching him work the crowd. I get higher playing it, and I have the best view in the room.

Q: (for Billy Bungeroth): Given your blog post on new can’t-miss bands, I see we share an interest in both hip-hop and indie rock. What’s the first hip-hop album you owned (and was it vinyl, cassette or CD)? What’s the first non-mainstream or “indie” rock show you went to? [mine are Big Daddy's Kane's "Long Live the Kane" cassette and Rogue Wave/Fruit Bats/Chad VanGaalen in 2005 - 17 years later]

A: Public Enemy’s “Nation of Millions” on cassette (with James Brown’s Greatest Hits on the flip)
Fugazi, NoMeansNo, The Ex @ Sacred Heart Church, Washington DC 1991

Q: Chicago question – Ever been to the Wieners Circle in Lincoln Park? if so, what’s the worst thing you’ve been called by one of the staff? [I got called "you Beavis looking honkey motherf***er"]

A: Yes, but since it’s usually during the day, and I was sober, they were pretty nice. when I asked them to hold the mustard, they asked “you don’t fuck with mustard?!!”

Q: I’ve been inspired into a funk/soul renaissance by a friend (and Sharon Jones). What inspired you to start playing soul music (a band, a generation, an artist, or just a groove)?

A: It started with finding out who Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, and the Beastie Boys were sampling, progressed through a heavy Motown/Stax/Aretha/Meters/Funkadelic/James Brown kick in college, but not bothering to play it live until I met Billy and JC, cats who could actually walk it like they talk it.


Thanks to Ben and Billy for taking the time to answer some questions. And thanks to Billy for introducing me to Cool Kids. Here’s a reminder that JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will be at The Monkey House in Winooski on Wednesday, May 5. See you there!

“JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are for the people remaining awake through a great revolution… for people who want to move and not just sit tight… for soul people! Guaranteed to make you dance by any means necessary, JC Brooks is the new sound of Chicago.”

p.s. if you only counted 6 questions then you are paying too much attention. here’s the 7th question, which wasn’t answered: Howard Zinn was an inspiration to many – as a civil rights and anti-war activist, an historian, and a proud liberal. what made you write a song about him?


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.