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A good cover song can help listeners appreciate the original and the tribute-paying artist in new ways, which is why The A.V. Club’s annual “A.V. Undercover” series is so damn fun. Every summer, the staff compiles a list of songs it wants to hear and invites bands to the office to cover them. Chicago’s J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound recently slayed Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” turning the R&B classic into a rollicking boogie. Sift further through the Internet and you’ll find video of the band giving Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” a horn-laden Motown treatment. If these covers don’t sell the Uptown Sound as an inventive, charismatic outfit with great taste, give the ensemble another listen. Its new album, Howl, shows off Brooks’ boisterous croon alongside an assortment of ’60s-inspired soul and garage rock. The band is indebted to the past, but it’s figured out how to use that to its advantage without sounding old and moldy.
J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound perform with John Michael Rouchell at 8 p.m. at Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. $14. (202) 388-7625. rockandrollhoteldc.com.