Howl, the third album from Chicago's JC Brooks, is a deliberate departure from the throwback R&B of previous efforts, a raw, heart-on-the-sleeve breakup album every bit as indie rock and punk as it is soul, which turns out to be as much a detriment as the album's strength. "Not Alone" best embodies the band's self-described "post-punk soul," but the song lacks musical conviction and ends up out of place sandwiched between the disco-funk rollerskating jam "Before You Die" and stripped down Memphis soul of "River," a Stax-style ballad with obvious shades of Otis Redding. Rocking an Afro-pompadour, Brooks is a former stage actor with a flair for the dramatic. No surprise, then, that several ballads ("Ordinary," "Cold") seem well-suited for a Rocky Horror-style musical. Howl weaves a compelling narrative, but it'd be more interesting if Brooks embodied the title and channeled his inner Screamin' Jay Hawkins. (4:30pm, Zilker Tent stage)
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