Where To Start – Bully

The new Bully album Sugaregg came out a few short weeks ago. It feels like they’ve been releasing music all summer long as they’d preceded the album release with some stylishly twisted cover versions right the way back in May. I got so into listening to their take on Nirvana’s About A Girl and Orville Peck’s Turn To Hate I kind of forgot the album was on the way too.

I’m not going to pretend I knew Orville Peck’s song when it came doubled up behind a cover of the very first song in most alt rockers iTunes library (when the songs are sorted alphabetically). I really liked what I heard though and as I played the tracks in various sequenced playlists I kept imagining what sort of band had laid down the original. I figured it was some 80’s goth tinged alternative types I’d never heard of. Now though, I know he’s a Canadian Country singer who sings from behind a veil and looks like a villain from an episode of 60’s TV Batman. I’m thinking he’ll be getting his own post soon enough.

They do enough with the Nirvana cover to make the song their own. I’m starting to think of their version as THE version I’ve played it so often in 2020. Honestly, how often do you go back and listen to Bleach?

So, when Sugaregg the album finally loomed into view in August I was feeling really rather spoiled indeed. We’d been given so much advanced Bully with videos and downloads of Every Tradition and Prism preceding the record. By the time the album listening contingent finally dropped the needle on manic flailer Add It On, I felt like they’d been with me throughout the events of 2020. So now as we approach the home straight, when it comes to talking about Bully the band, in a post on SFTD to represent their contribution to my listening, well, I DoN’t KnOw WhErE To StArTtTtt (Boom! Tish! You says the title you wins the prize!)

The album starts like a classic Riot Grrrl screamer. Part early Hole, part Bikini Kill, part Distillers. There’s more psych in the later tracks on the album. As a whole, it’s got that rewarding journey feel a good long player needs to have to suck you in at the start. Like you’re dirt on a rug heading up the flexible tube of a vacuum cleaner. It can then whirl you around for a bit with songs like Stuck In Your Head, Not Ashamed and Hours & Hours. Before dumping you in the trash that is life after the album has finished when What I Wanted fades from your ears.

Where To Start though. It’s an earworm for sure. Alicia’s vocal is both abrasive and a little wounded. You can feel the groove from Nick’s bass line leaving space for her guitar to mix a speedy little down stroke riff with indie jangle. All the while Wesley batters his cymbals like they owe him money. Check out the solo take at the bottom of the page for Alicia Bognanno’s raw vocal and dexterous switch to bass playing to really get inside the songs architecture.

As a distillation of what this band is and does it works. If you’re wondering who they’re contemporaries are file them along side Starcrawler, The Beths, Dream Wife, Goat Girl, Sharon Van Etten and all that gloriously good stuff.

So let Bully push you around. Give them your lunch money. They’ll give you back a glorious blue vinyl album of top quality punk rock.


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