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CD of The Week

Week of 11/06/17

    Bully - Losing (Sub Pop)

    Look, the 90's were great for music. Even though many people had it good, there was still enough teen angst to be harnessed and reflected back through fuzzy guitars and shout-y vocals. Today with a backward sliding society, there are plenty of reasons for bands to pick up the torch of torment and write frustrated songs trying to figure out life. No one is better prepared than Alicia Bognanno and her band Bully.

    In college, Bognanno was the star intern at Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies)'s Electrical Audio recording studio, which is where she returned to produce and engineer Bully's second album Losing. Both Albini and the studio's influence are easily seen in the heavy-handed guitars, sludgy feedback and raspy-yet-melodic vocals that she employs to construct their sound. 

    Losing finds Bully more polished and organized than 2015's Feels Like. The songwriting is complex, giving space for hooks to play out and peppering in harmonized vocals behind emotional shouts. "Spiral," a song that sounds like a cross between The Cure's "In Between Days" and Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" picks and chooses its battles to fill the airwaves with droning bass or whining guitars, while giving space to spotlight Bognanno''s voice. She finds it easy to shift her singing style at the drop of a hat, from reserved and calculated like Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo, to gruff shouting like Cerys Matthews from Catatonia. "Focused" is a prime example, where Bognanno starts out sedated only to explode as she seems to slowly lose the battle of sanity. "Not the Way" follows up with primal Sam Kinison yells as the unfazed backing vocals act as an internal argument, contemplating her true feelings about a relationship.

    Dissecting things in one's mind until they no longer make sense and expressing raw emotions runs deep on Losing. Every word on the album has purpose and deliberate choice of tonal inflection. Bognanno has spent a lot of time crafting songs she wants to sing and perform, taking into account the repetition of playing songs night after night and how best she can enjoy each performance for herself and the fans. So when you go see her play with the stellar Aye Nako opening at the First Unitarian Church on November 14th, know that the cathartic songs you are hearing and seeing were produced for maximum fun on both sides of the stage.

    **Donate $20 or more to Y-Not Radio to receive Losing on CD. Click here for details.

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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