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Sunday, May 20, 2018

American Pleasure Club come packing Kitty and local Julee Bruise on the rise

Posted By on Sun, May 20, 2018 at 9:51 PM

click to enlarge American Pleasure Club
  • American Pleasure Club
American Pleasure Club, Julee Bruise and Special Explosion, May 17, Soundbar

If the name American Pleasure Club isn’t quite familiar yet, they’re a Baltimore act that first came to indie prominence under the far less fun moniker Teen Suicide. They’re a magpie of a band that plucks from a spectrum of styles, from lo-fi to punk to electronic to whatever. All of it’s used to invoke a dizzying storm around the eternally downcast singing of Sam Ray.
click to enlarge American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
  • American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
click to enlarge American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
  • American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
But, while their motley palette can feel exploratory on record, their live sound is pretty unified and in the pocket. When they hit their noisy peaks, the band really show the fullness and force with which they can flex their emotion. Even though Ray likes to keep it on a bummer frequency, he surrounds himself with a range of sounds and ideas that’s surprisingly wide and vivid.
click to enlarge American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
  • American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
click to enlarge American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
  • American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
An interesting postscript: One especially notable member of the band is Kitty, the breakout Daytona rap artist who’s distinguished herself as both an internet phenom and a writer.
click to enlarge American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
  • American Pleasure Club at Soundbar
I knew nothing of her association with the band walking in so I had to look that shit up. In case you’re as clueless as I was, she and Sam Ray are married and she joined the band this year on electronics and backup vocals. So that was a nice local surprise.
click to enlarge Julee Bruise
  • Julee Bruise
Opening the night was Julee Bruise, the solo vehicle of Julia Joyce of local twee-pop band TV Dinner. She came accompanied by a drummer, though his playing was generally minimal. Her own confessional pop strikes a slightly different tone than TV Dinner, working a distinctly raw personal edge. Whether it’s the sparer arrangement or just the more emotionally bare tenor of the songs, this guise shows that Joyce is marching directly in the footsteps laid down by some of the great indie women of the last quarter century.
click to enlarge Julee Bruise at Soundbar
  • Julee Bruise at Soundbar
Her singing is a thing that’s unflinchingly vulnerable. But she traces the contours of emotion with such nakedness and pathos that she plies that vulnerability into power. And what this performance revealed is that Joyce is a voice that’s developing quickly in expression and aesthetic.
click to enlarge Special Explosion at Soundbar
  • Special Explosion at Soundbar
Also playing were Seattle’s Special Explosion. Apropos of their provenance, they’re emblematic of the sensitive indie rock that’s more or less defined the post-grunge Pacific Northwest. Their music is a lush brand of emo that’s traded in punk urgency for pastoral texture. Where they’re coming from is evident. Much less clear, though, is what exactly they have to say. It’s pleasant music done with craft but more a competent exercise in style than anything.

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