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. (more…)
Boys & Girls, the breakthrough 2012 debut from Athens, AL based Alabama Shakes didn’t exactly feel like a fluke, but it didn’t feel sustainable, either. Lead singer Brittany Howard was undeniably charismatic and the motown/soul vibes were a nice change of pace, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear from the band again.
That makes Sound of Color, an improvement on their debut, even more enjoyable. Sonically, it’s a very different record. While Howard’s Winehouse-esque vocal deliver remains, the motown sound is replaced by hook heavy southern rock (think Allman Brothers meet The Strokes).
Lead single “Don’t Wanna Fight” stacks up favorably to the Shakes’s 2012 hit “Hold On,” and deeper cuts “Shoegaze,” “I Ain’t The Same,” and “You Ain’t Alone” combine to create a well rounded album. I’ll try not to sleep on this band moving forward.