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Feels Like is the superbly requisite title for the latest release by Nashville’s rock outfit Bully. Led by a frenetically charged presence with scraped-throat vocals, each track indulges in some emotional rust; the leftovers of old relationships or lifestyles, but with no bitterness, instead, a retrospective glorifying the bad and the good, each loaded with a memory to sell.
Full of turbulent guitars, anguished drums, and discordant and angular melodies, Bully’s debut Feels Like is a rampaging trash though vitriolic 90s rock ‘n’ roll.
Alicia Bognanno, the girl with the guts, is responsible for those screams, yelps and cascading, angel-coo choruses. Verses build often result in exploding choruses. A times its something akin to Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, but there’s always a grunge-girl vibe going on, that brings to mind Kristen Hersh and Tanya Donnally and their Throwing Muses.
Bognanno also manages to harness all the intensity of Neko Case witnessed in her more stripped back and raw Blacklisted; sweetly volatile and sorely sour. When she hits her higher notes, there’s a bit of Lydia Lunch in her too.
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Musically this album could be a missing B-side collection from Sonic Youth’s Dirty, with song Trash falling along the lines of Sugar Kane and a provoked tarantula set loose through the splaying chords of Theresa’s Sound World. Basically, it’s 90s rock with the grunge turned up.
Feels Like is unhesitating, personal, tense, ballsy, and ultimately, loveable, because there’s a kind of beer-soaked sadness that runs through; irreverent tomboy at the mike recalling a life lived, though never lamenting it.
Stand out tracks to listen for:
There, you’ll find the nostalgia for an old lover, from getting wasted to together to the scent of their sheets, all in less than two minutes. Then a move on to a love that is nothing but trash in the end, and there’s nothing to dissuade her, for Bognanno is vehement and convicted. And that time she was six and broke her sister’s arm. It’s a whirlwind of vivid tales and emotions, but all are affecting enough that it will do more than just carry. It’s a hurricane pioneered by turbulent guitars, anguished drums, and discordant and angular melodies.
Feels Like reminds me, at times, of the edgier side to a 90s shoegaze such as Slowdive, Cocteau Twins or early My Bloody Valentine, only if they’d taken speed before the show. It’s got the same building emotional ache ensnared in huge walls of sound that resonate harshly, uninhibitedly, with the impacting vocals and the vastness of the lyrics that Bognanno possesses.
Lots of treble, feedback and casual delivery makes it easy to connect with rather than obscure and angry. In your face, as the band name suggests, but always with something to say. Not righteous, but passionate – it’s a difference that makes them endearing and enduring. The admittance in her lyrics of more awkward moments (hoping for a period, hello!) or realising that something wasn’t what you thought it was and being proven wrong, made all the more beautiful and real with the use of the music that suits and reflects the versatility of a powerful voice.
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