Nashville has a new alt-rock group drawing some deserved buzz. Bully brings a not-exactly-new sound to 2015 but a sound that is undeniably catchy, fun, and easy to listen to. It took me a while to figure out why they sounded so familiar until I saw them play a set at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival this summer. A girl at the merch booth was rather stoked to have seen them play. “Don’t they sound just like Hole?” She hit the nail on the head. It’s as if Courtney Love has been reinvented. The 1990s Courtney when Hole was putting out some of the best music of the decade. The 90s may have been over 15 years ago, but Bully brings some of the best highlights back from a decade of low-feeling, depressing music from the grunge era. Bully is different than their 90s predecessors, however. Alicia Bognanno sings a more upbeat, happier, seemingly more hopeful tune. Sure, she drags up old relationship woes in the first track on their debut, “I Remember,” a fast paced, screamingly angry affair. There’s even talk of pregnancy scares and severe problems with herself on “Trying” where Bognanno howls “I am trying to hide from my mind.” Somehow through all of this, Bully conveys a feeling that everything is going to be alright, that sometimes you have to get through some really nasty stuff before things get better. There’s just a lot more nasty stuff in the way than previously thought. “You make me feel like trash,” Bognanno states on “Trash,” the track which gives Bully’s debut its name. Sure, this sounds depressing, hopeless even. But there is beautiful simplicity in such harsh words that bring out a certain level of humanness. The pain, the suffering, the fighting, it’s all there, all human. But what this record is about above all else is how it makes Bognanno feel.
A deep, bleeding look into some pretty serious emotional experiences. Also, a certain level even of insecurities come to the surface in Feels Like anyone could have seen very apparently in Bully’s live performance. Bognanno’s stage presence was weak. When she did talk to the crowd, she became upset when they didn’t give her enough positive feedback, as if she was angry that we didn’t understand how hard it was to lay out some of your toughest times in front of hundreds of complete strangers. Of course none of us understood. Still, I can’t help but feel like this record has some sort of vibe to it that makes me think things were always going to work themselves out in the end, even if it was only a subconscious, falsely-hoping, side-thought.
By: Nick Fief