Rhyme Report

Published on July 8th, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


Bully Announces Fall Tour – Stream Album AT NPR

Next week, Nashville four piece Bully will release their debut album Feels Like which is already poised to be one of the best albums of the year. Listeners can now stream the album in full via NPR’s “First Listen.” “Sweet and fizzy, barbed and aggressive, Feels Like benefits from its sublime simplicity – from all the hooks and riffs and snarls at its surface – while smartly undercutting it at the right times. These are speeding-with-the-windows-down songs, but they also feel true to the life of the charismatic ball of nerves at their core, said NPR.” Feels Like was recorded at Chicago’s famed Electrical Audio and was produced, engineered and mixed by lead singer Alicia Bognanno. The album will be available June 23rd on Startime International/ Columbia.

Bully will embark on a full US headlining tour beginning September 18th in Cleveland. Highlights include Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on September 28th and The Echo in Los Angeles on October 21st. Bully is currently on tour with Best Coast and will also make appearances at Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Tickets go on sale for the fall tour Friday, June 19th. The band recently released their music video for the single “Trying.”



“[Feels Like]… showcases 11 rough’n’tumble punk-goes-pop anthems that are every bit as vulnerable as they are willing to clock you in the jaw.” – Spin

“‘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.” – Gorilla Vs. Bear

“[Bognanno’s] voice is powerful, but it has to contend with layers of shredded riffs and relentless drumbeats. So there’s a dual catharsis there: Bognanno is free to dig deep and exorcise her darkest thoughts, but can also let loose and party with a roomful of fans.” – Village Voice

“Invoking strong influences of 1990s alt-rock, Bully rejiggers the sentiments of female-fronted bands 25 years ago for a newer pop-oriented generation.” – Pitchfork

“Feels Like [is] a knuckle sandwich of pop-punk hooks and grunge heft. Through broken arms, poisonous memories and other lyrical baggage, Bognanno balances vocal clarity and a throat-ripping rasp.” – Rolling Stone

“[Bognanno’s] personal insecurities are sometimes expressed with a wounded whimper, while others are rattled off in the form of explosive frustration accompanied by harsh riffs that seem to tear right through the speakers. At the very core, though, is Bognanno, a human who is attempting so very sincerely to make sense of this big, bad world.” – Consequence of Sound

“As the band’s main architect-primary songwriter, frontwoman, and producer-Bognanno is a dauntingly impressive creative force whose music is at once vulnerably reflexive and ferocious.” – Nerdist

“Alicia Bognanno doesn’t fear exposure. As the frontperson of Nashville’s fast-rising band Bully, Bognanno writes songs that peel away at her layered insides, revealing more of herself in several minutes than she probably would over the course of an hour-long conversation.” – Stereogum

“Bognanno has a knack for writing simple tracks whose sticky melodies make them sound uncannily like classics: her frayed scream sounds like Kurt Cobain’s.” – NME


#w/ Best Coast

New dates in bold

Jun 12: Paradise – Boston, MA#

Jun 13: Northside Fest – Brooklyn, NY

Jun 14: Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA#

Jun 15: Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY

Jun 16: 930 Club – Washington DC#

Jun 18: Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH#

Jun 19: Majestic – Detroit, MI#

Jun 20: The Bishop – Bloomington, IN

Jul 17-20: Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL

Jul 31: Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL

Aug 28: Ni-Fi Festival – Sparta, KY

Sept 18: Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH

Sept 19: Club Helsinki – Hudson, NY

Sept 20: Pop Montreal – Montreal QC

Sept 21: The Garrison – Toronto, ON

Sept 24: Pygmalion Music Festival- Champaign, IL

Sept 25: Midpoint Music festival – Cincinnati, OH

Sept 26: Mohawk Place- Buffalo, NY

Sept 27: Boston Calling – Boston, MA

Sept 28: Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY

Sept 30: Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA

Oct 01: Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington DC

Oct 02: Strange Matter – Richmond, VA

Oct 03: Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA

Oct 05: Pilot Light – Knoxville, TN

Oct 07: Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO

Oct 08: Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS

Oct 10: The Mill – Iowa City, IA

Oct 11: The Frequency – Madison, WI

Oct 12: 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN

Oct 15: Badlander – Missoula, MT

Oct 16: Barboza – Seattle, WA

Oct 17: Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR

Oct 19: Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA

Oct 20: Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA

Oct 21: The Echo – Los Angeles, CA

More About


The word “bully” has a negative connotation in 2015, one heavy with menace and violence. A bully is an instigator, an aggressor-someone who can spot your weaknesses and exploit them mercilessly. It’s a curious name for a Nashville quartet that is transforming familiar ’90s alt-rock (Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, Weezer) into smart, sharp-edged millennial indie rock, but “bully” is certainly an apt description for the band’s churning guitars, rambunctious rhythms, and tightly coiled intensity. Their debut, Feels Like sounds alternately like a balled fist and a fresh bruise.

More crucially, the word “bully” is a perfect distillation of frontwoman Alicia Bognanno’s visceral approach to songwriting. She trades in steely observations, raw-nerve confessions, and intense anger directed almost exclusively at herself-although a few bystanders and bad exes might get caught in the crossfire. Her voice rises from sugar-sweet to scratchy howl as she bares her most harrowing fears to the world. In other words, Bognanno is her own bully.

Not merely the band’s vocalist, songwriter, guitarist, and all-around visionary, she is also Bully’s producer and engineer. Her musical life in music is inseparable from her experiences studying audio techniques and technology. Growing up in Minnesota, Bognanno often made up her own lyrics and melodies-nothing so complete as a song-but it wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she found an outlet for those creative urges. “I took an audio engineering class at this alternative school,” she recalls, adding that sessions were held at the local zoo. “Suddenly, it was like, Wow! I have a way to record stuff. Now I need to figure out how to play an instrument.” She learned piano quickly, but guitar was more difficult; she had more fun using Logic Pro X to loop beats for some of her friends who were aspiring rappers.

Audio engineering engaged her in ways that other subjects had not, and Bognanno credits her teacher with recommending an inexpensive four-year Bachelor of Science program at Middle Tennessee State University, about thirty miles south of Nashville. There she immersed herself in courses in recording techniques, music theory and history, even copyright law. She even took another stab at guitar, this time with better results. “I think learning just some basic theory helped a lot, but I think it was because I picked up an electric guitar instead of an acoustic,” she explains. “It was a lot more fun.”

While the school emphasized digital recording, Boganno became obsessed with analog equipment. Part of the attraction was the richer and roomier sound, which opens up new and livelier textures in the instruments. “It’s hard to bust out of what your instructors are showing you and what all your classmates are doing,” she says, “but there were two teachers who maintained the tape machines, and they gave me lessons on the mechanics and techniques.”

Bognanno used that experience to pursue an internship at Electrical Audio, the Chicago studio complex owned by Steve Albini and host to legendary sessions by some of Bully’s heroes and biggest influences: the Breeders, Liz Phair, Superchunk, even the Stooges. When she returned to Tennessee, she started working at a local studio (Battle Tapes), ran sound at one of the best venues in town (the Stone Fox), and formed Bully as essentially a solo project backed by a trio of friends: Stewart Copeland on drums, Clayton Parker on guitar, and Reece Lazarus on bass.

Despite Bognanno’s expertise as an audio engineer, the band is less a studio entity than a stage act, one that has quickly developed a reputation for its ferocious live shows (the Nashville Scene named Bully the top local band in its 2014 Best of Nashville issue.) On record, Bognanno strives to retain the band’s formidable guitar attack while highlighting her boldly candid lyrics. “At this point in my life I always want everything I make to sound like we’re playing live,” she explains. “That’s why I didn’t put any keyboards or any extra stuff on there. Some people don’t like that, but I had to go with my gut.”

The band recorded live at Electrical Audio, doing as few takes as possible. Once they’d gotten a good performance, the songs were mixed immediately, not merely to save time but to preserve the excitable urgency of the music. Overseeing every part of the process put extra pressure on Bognanno to deliver some truly unbridled vocal performances. She practically screams the lyrics to opener “I Remember,” documenting her memories of a curdled romance as the guitars roar and tumble behind her:

I remember showing up at your house

I remember hurting you so much

And I remember the way your sheets smelled!

It made for an intense session. “Stuart was trying to get some footage while we were in the studio, and he said he couldn’t be in the same room with me while I was recording those vocals. It was just too intense. I don’t even know how it comes out of me.”

A deeply personal album by an artist bravely mining her own life, Feels Like is all about trying to figure yourself out-about holding yourself accountable and acting like an adult in a society that doesn’t offer very many good examples. It’s a coming-of-age album, which only makes Bognanno more relatable. “Sometimes I wonder if people think I’m a complete mess,” she says. “It’s not easy to put yourself out there like, but it’s true. Everyone goes through shit like that.”

About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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