Big Ups, Growwing Pains
1501 Holden Street
Detroit, MI, 48208
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Watch & Listen
Bully burst onto the scene in 2015 with their critically acclaimed album Feels Like. Today the band announces Losing. The album was engineered and mixed by lead-singer Alicia Bognanno in Chicago at Electrical Audio.
Fronted by Alicia Bognanno, Bully was born in 2013. Bognanno was an engineer who had cut her teeth working at Electrical Audio in Chicago. Together with guitarist Clayton Parker and Reece Lazarus on bass, they made a debut album received unanimous critical acclaim and Bognanno became a point of intrigue. A rock icon in the making, with her signature scream, messy blonde hair hanging in her face, and formidable skills as both a player and a engineer who prefers recording to tape. “The coarse Cobain head-scream of Bully singer, songwriter and guitarist Alicia Bognanno is its own resuscitating jolt of protest,” said Pitchfork. “She spends much of Feels Like tearing the house down with her howl.” The success propelled the band into an exhaustive touring cycle with spots on huge festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lollapallooza, Pitchfork Music Festival and ACL and a late night appearance on Conan.
While Feels Like tumbled headlong into the precarious nature of Bognanno’s young adult life, Losing is a document of the complexity of growth: navigating breakups with sensitivity, learning not to run away from your troubles but to face them no matter how messy they may be. The debut single, “Feel The Same’ is the album opener. Like an electric-shock Bognanno is back in your face tackling the angst of a young person feeling their way through the world. The song describes the prison of a manic mind-set, being trapped in your own head. On “Seeing It” she addresses the issue of personal safety and navigating the world as a woman. On “Running” she focuses on personal relationships and the avoidance of facing the demise of a personal relationship.
Losing is an internal, carefully focused record, a universalized diary and an exorcism—not of any one specific demon, but the host of them that characterize contemporary anxieties. Bully are growing up, sure, but their fire is in no way diminishing
“Big Ups' second LP, Before A Million Universes, is at once a fist in the face of complacency and a sonic affirmation to, in Walt Whitman's words, "let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes."
Pretty heady subject matter... Joe Galarraga (vocals), Amar Lal (guitar), Carlos Salguero Jr. (bass), and Brendan Finn (drums), met studying music technology at NYU. Five years later, the city's notorious crucible of garbage, money, and humanity has had a profound and delightful impact on their art.
"Tell me what you're worth / Salary, two weeks off work?" Galarraga screams on "Capitalized," as the bassline frantically roams our conscience like a wet-nosed dog. Galarraga's vocals burn with the heat of a thousand day jobs.
Yet all this righteousness is worth as much as a Che t-shirt if it lacks humility, and more than any of the band's previous work, Before A Million Universes plumbs the depths of self-deception in wickedly clever ways. Who doesn't own a coat made of "The Feathers Of Yes"?
"Count the ideas in my head so I can love every one," our protagonist coos before Lal's guitar tosses lightning bolts through his cloud. "And it feels so warm / wrapped in self-righteous truths."
"Yawp" unspools the exercise in futility that is the overexamined life to the tune of a lumbering giant stomping across a field of insecurities. "How many times can you be poured through the still to the point of perfection? / I've dropped myself through the coils so many times but always come out with something missing / And the proof’s so high it makes me dizzy."
The album's emotional and musical core lies in "National Parks," a song Galarraga wrote as a tribute to the sacrifices his mother made to raise him.
We're led through the anger and bewilderment—at his mom's solitary walks through their neighborhood and the selfishness inherent to childhood—and into a coda where you can almost see the sun streaming through the trees of Galarraga's park, drums steady and swelling, a transition in tone and mood that this band has nearly perfected. "I think I saw her say to herself / This is everything I've missed."
Before A Million Universes is Big Ups at their most sincere, urgent, and vital— a salty kiss from the wet lips of Brooklyn's bard." - Chris Robbins
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