Posts Tagged ‘Alicia Bognanno’

While Bully’s 2015 debut ‘Feels Like’ tumbled headlong into the precarious nature of Alicia Bognanno’s young adult life, its follow-up Losing is their first for Sub Pop (which in many ways feels like their spiritual home; Bully’s sound is an outgrowth of the bands the label championed in the late ‘80s and ‘90s). Losing is a document of the complexity of growth: navigating breakups with sensitivity, learning not to flee from your troubles but to face them down no matter how messy they may be (“Well, this isn’t the summer I wanted,” she muses on “Blame,” before admitting that she’s trying to “cut down on booze and you”). Written as the group slowed down from touring constantly and Bognanno attempted to adjust to how different a home schedule is from a road schedule, her songwriting has matured from the quick one-two punches of Feels Like to tracks that contemplate the necessity of space in both song structure and emotion. Bognanno’s gruff yet dynamic voice is allowed to bloom, and it has a tenderness and openness to it here that’s new. There are multiple layers of wistfulness and care to her delivery of lines like “It just takes one disagreement for you to remember the one time I fucked up,” from “Spiral,” turning songs that could be one-dimensional kiss-offs into warm and complex expressions of regret.

The group returned to Electrical Audio in Chicago, another home for Bognanno, to record Losing. Their core—Bognanno, guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus—truly solidified during the process, a detail-oriented push for perfection in which each moving part was labored over and polished. Emily Lazar’s mastering adds the perfect cap to Bognanno’s engineering; this is a record that has both shimmer and heft. There’s power in the guitar attack, delicacy and toughness in the melodic hooks, precision in the drums, and backbone in the bass.

While Bognanno wouldn’t call this a political record, she doesn’t deny that the current political atmosphere and its urgency and tension haven’t shaped some of her ideas on this record, too—though she does not want that to be its focus. Mostly, this is an internal record, a universalized diary and an exorcism—not of any one specific demon, but of the host of them that characterize contemporary anxieties. Bully are growing up, sure, but their fire is in no way diminishing.

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The 12 new songs on Losing feel like perfect anthems for a generation still learning to harness the power of resistance. With a vocal style that is as pretty as it is powerful, and emotionally resonant lyrics, Alicia channels the loss of innocence and reveals a raw honesty in songs that are distinctly hers. I love Bully the way I love Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr and the Breeders.  A good reason to be with Sub Pop, who have always been associated with this type of music . Alicia says I feel like all my best work has been born of heartbreak and upheaval; maybe most musicians feel that way. “The title of the record – Losing – kind of says it all,” Alicia says. “After being on the road so long and coming back to Nashville we all had a lot of changes going on in our personal lives that we were trying to deal with / adjust to and that was really the motivation for this one.

“‘Cause what I want with you is none of your business,” Alicia Bognanno sings in a soft bedroom voice, layered above a repeating and driven guitar riff in the opening verse of “Kills to Be Resistant.”

This release off of Bully’s sophomore album, Losing, is not hard to identify with. The drums in this song lay down a foundation, perfectly mirroring Bognanno as she ebbs between gentle verses tip-toeing around the topic, and choruses riddled with gravel, grit and the pain that comes with accepting circumstances as they are. With just drums and bass to hold the words, Bognanno confesses, “When I’m alone, I stare at your picture,” a habit with which most of us are all too familiar. When the guitar riff comes back in for the bridge, it’s an embodiment of that cyclical, anxious thought process that’s attached to facing an end to or a shift in a relationship.

“It won’t stop / Do you feel nothing?” she asks in the chorus leading into an outro that matches the built-up frustration in the lyrics with dissonant chords and skillfully-played drum fills.

This is all anyone could have hoped for when anticipating new music from Bully. The sound is full, but nowhere near overly-complicated. Every necessary element is there, coming together to sound so effortless and raw. The only thing more to ask for is a ticket to a live performance.

Lately Alicia has been lending her voice as an advocate for gun control, women’s rights and speaking out in support of animal rights.

Bully frontwoman Alicia Bognanno was always drawn to music, but it wasn’t until she enrolled in a sound-engineering class her senior year of high school that she felt it was really something she could do. She enrolled in Middle Tennessee State University’s audio-engineering program, and was surrounded by music for the first time. It was there that she picked up guitar and taught herself to play by simply being around other musicians. After finishing school, she moved to nearby Nashville, joined a local band, and met Stewart Copeland. But she quickly found that singing someone else’s lyrics wasn’t what she wanted to do, so she and Stewart decided to star their own band. Bully was born.

With a new album that came out June 23rd. Recorded at Electrical Audio studios in Chicago . Alicia says, because I’d interned there in college and loved it, so I knew I would feel comfortable recording there. I wanted to mix the album myself, and I knew that I would have all the support I needed. We recorded everything on tape so every sound is just as it was recorded. There’s no pitch correct or anything like that—all of the sounds are real, and they were a moment that happened. I hope that people can appreciate that. And I hope that when people listen to the album they can connect to it in some way, that they’ll hear a lyric and say, ‘I’ve been there.'”

 

BULLY: “At first I was kind of nervous to share my songs with the band, especially when I wrote ‘Trying’ and with that line about waiting for my period. After I played that for them I said, ‘What do you guys think of that?’ and they said, ‘Definitely leave it in, it’s cool.’ And that kind of set the bar for how personal our music was going to be. It has been really positive.”

“I think we’re different from a lot of other bands, in that we don’t have a trendy sound— we don’t sound like other music happening right now. Not that we sound like we’re from another era, we just sound like Bully. And I think we take chances as far as being honest and getting really personal with our lyrics, which isn’t easy to do. It used to be easier to hide behind lyrics and write things that are more abstract, but it takes guts to be direct and say what you mean.” Check out Bully’s electrifying performance of “Trying” at SXSW.

Bully is putting out pretty much the only new rock album I care about this year. The Nashville band is fronted by Alicia Bognanno, a girl who is just as fearless when she’s screaming about her period over seething guitars as when she’s producing the group’s entire album new album “Feels Like”. There’s just something about the women that orchestrate their music to that level of detail, and with this amount of ferocity, that is completely exhilarating where so much of modern rock falters. “Too Tough” is a blood-curdling evisceration of male weakness. It flips the myth of masculinity’s tough-as-nails exterior over and exposes the toxic, cowardly underbelly. But you could never accuse Bognanno of sounding mad per se as she wails “You’re trying to wear me down.” Instead, she sounds like the rest of the incredibly tough women I know: tired of it. So she took up her guitar and wrote a song about that exhaustion. It courses with enough crackling power to buoy the rest of us. Later this month, Nashville rock group Bully will release one of the most accomplished debut albums of the year with “Feels Like”, a collection of alt-rock angst and thrillingly aggressive lyrics. “Too Tough” is one of the album’s most intense pleasures — and Billboard is giving it to you first. Listen to “Too Tough” below: Like the previously released track “Trying,” “Too Tough” finds Bully leader Alicia Bognanno oscillating between defeated warbles and enraged cries over a collection of chugging guitars. Bognanno also serves as Bully’s producer and engineer, and has given Feels Like a gritty sound to match her gleefully unhinged vocal performances.

“‘Too Tough’ was recorded at Electrical Audio,” says Bognanno of the Chicago studio owned by Steve Albini, “and is about people who don’t have the nerve to live up to mistakes they’ve made.”

“Feels Like” is due out June 23rd on Startime International/Columbia, and Bully has been on the road supporting Best Coast‘s latest tour,

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“‘Cause what I want with you is none of your business,” Alicia Bognanno sings in a soft bedroom voice, layered above a repeating and driven guitar riff in the opening verse of “Kills to Be Resistant.”

This release off of Bully’s sophomore album, Losing, is not hard to identify with. The drums in this song lay down a foundation, perfectly mirroring Bognanno as she ebbs between gentle verses tip-toeing around the topic, and choruses riddled with gravel, grit and the pain that comes with accepting circumstances as they are. With just drums and bass to hold the words, Bognanno confesses, “When I’m alone, I stare at your picture,” a habit with which most of us are all too familiar. When the guitar riff comes back in for the bridge, it’s an embodiment of that cyclical, anxious thought process that’s attached to facing an end to or a shift in a relationship.

“It won’t stop / Do you feel nothing?” she asks in the chorus leading into an outro that matches the built-up frustration in the lyrics with dissonant chords and skillfully-played drum fills.

This is all anyone could have hoped for when anticipating new music from Bully. The sound is full, but nowhere near overly-complicated. Every necessary element is there, coming together to sound so effortless and raw. The only thing more to ask for is a ticket to a live performance.

When Alicia Bognanno came forth with her debut album Feels Like under the pseudonym Bully in 2015, it was relatively easy to compare her lucid, diary-entry songwriting and throaty head-screams to dozens of 90s’ indie powerhouses.

These comparisons were appropriate at the time – Feels Like was 31 restless minutes of explosive indie guitar-rock, with a timeless appeal boasting 90s’ nostalgia and emotional self-revelations. But as time passed, Feels Like aged adequately, and each listen felt more refreshing than the last. Minute production details that were once unnoticed began to show – courtesy of Bognanno’s tenure at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studios in Chicago – and Feels Like became a vital document for heady 90s’ indie-rock revivalists.

Now two years wiser, Bognanno has returned with the follow up, and her Sub Pop debut, Losing – an album even more focused and emphatic than its predecessor.

US trio Bully like to mimic their live performance on record; a sound that’s frenetic, raw, vulnerable, and pulses with tension from start to finish. For frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, this year feels like the perfect time for the band’s return, with their sophomore record, Losing – the band’s first release with legendary label Sub Pop Records (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Sleater Kinney).

The same raw intensity that made fans fall under Bognanno’s spell in 2015 is still very much present, but this time around Bognanno sounds more self-assured. Whether it’s the muscular bass riffs on “Running,” the despairing chorus of “Feel the Same,” or the repetitive drum-rolls and cries on “Not the Way,” Bognanno is her finest and purest self on Losing.

Per usual, Bognanno’s perennial hooks and screams are felt with a stubborn sense of irritability and angst, ripping off old emotional band-aids in attempts to decipher the complexities of aging. Suffice to say, Alicia Bognanno is in her prime as a musician, songwriter, and producer, and somehow comes out of Losing better than before, proving herself as one of the most consistent and impressive artists of the decade.

‘Losing’ (Release Date: October 20, 2017) LP version of ‘Losing’ from the Sub Pop Records.

Bully is definitely not losing these days! Get it? Anyway, they are putting out a new album entitled Losing from the Sub Pop label and this is as in your face as their previous album Feels Like which was highly acclaimed. The difference between their previous album and Losing is going to be refinement and perfectionism. Their first album was gritty, angry and beautifully chaotic stemming from Alicia’s protest on the crap that is life. Losing is coming from a similar place and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does polish it and give it new tires and such. Check out the single “Feel The Same” below and enjoy Bully. You can get the album at their Bandcamp site or from Sub Pop’s Mega Mart.

Limited edition Clear w/Black Swirl-colored vinyl LP, available while supplies last.

BULLY – ” Live On KEXP “

Posted: January 16, 2016 in MUSIC
Tags: ,

Bully were founded by Rosemount, Minnesota native Alicia Bognanno, high-powered grunge punk reminiscent of the beginnings of indie rock. Alicia is reminiscent of a young Emily Haines, with the same boundless energy as she ricochets through punk riffs and like Haines she maintains enough composure to keep a song catchy. Dynamic melodies and high-speed percussion section help Bully cut through the noise quickly and repeatedly. Tracks like ‘Brainfreeze’ are filled with scrappy energy until the last crunchy bass note fades out.

Bully performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded October 16, 2015.

Songs:
Brainfreeze
Trying
Picture
Trash

Bully Feels Like

The members of Nashville’s slacker rock group Bully could not be more emotionally detached and dismissive than they are in a new video for the song “Too Tough.” Fronted by singer Alicia Bognanno, the band members plod their way through the song in a nondescript suburban living room, completely distracted and disinterested in their own performance. Drummer Stewart Copeland intermittently grows bored and stops playing all together.

The whole scene oozes sarcasm. “Calling me but you can’t come clean,” sings Bognanno. “I had to hear it from family, hear it on the answering machine.” Not a lot happens in this world, but it’s oddly captivating to watch, in part for Bognanno’s penetrating gaze into the camera.

“Ever since the record has come out,” Bognanno tells us via email, “I am constantly being asked about the intensity and honesty of the lyrics and whether or not I regret putting them out there. This video is a friendly reminder that, yes, obviously we care, but we don’t need to be taken so seriously 100% of the time.”

“Too Tough” is from Bully’s debut full-length, Feels Like, released earlier this year on Columbia Records.

Alicia Bognanno performed the realest/rawest video of the year. “I Remember” is a blistering, intensely emotional missive, and even though Alicia’s probably performed this song 1000 times at this point, it looks like the sentiment expressed here hits a nerve every time. She holds nothing back, and by the time she’s done it feels like pure, sweet catharsis. Bully’s debut full-length “Feels Like” came out June 23rd. Of all the albums released this year, Feels Like is one of the most personal, honest and raw; it finds singer Alicia Bognanno laying herself emotionally bare in all arenas of her life, from a caustic past (or doomed present) relationship lamented on “I Remember,” the album’s lead single that hit pretty much everyone like a smack in the face when it dropped earlier this year, to reming a friend that he or she is better than their own bullies on “Six,” to pondering the possibilities of the future on “Milkman”.

The album is evidence of how strong Nashville’s oft-overlooked rock and roll scene really is, and makes a strong case for the resurgence of electric guitars in a city generally associated with pedal steel, fiddles and, more recently, the computer generated sounds that dominate modern country. Each song teems with unrestrained energy that doesn’t let up for a moment, and Bognanno’s rough-around-the-edges vocals push the tracks even further. If you’re not yet familiar with Bully, get familiar, because Bognanno and co. could be headed straight to the top.


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