Bully, Future Islands, and More Music Discoveries
"Her milky, yet strong voice conveys the story of letting go to receive the good of the future."
This week on the WERS 7 o’clock news we head-banged to the new single from Bully, jammed to a dreamy track from Future Islands, revelled in the return of the New Zealand native Marlon Williams, and was moved by a powerful track from New York to Nashville singer-songwriter Jilette Johnson. Check out what the WERS Music staff has to say about the songs you’ve just heard and make sure to tune in next week for more music discovery on the 7 o’clock news!
FEEL THE SAME
Bully was founded by Minnesota-native Alicia Bognanno, who earned a degree from Middle Tennessee State University in audio recording before getting an internship at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. She started recording demos of her own material before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked as an engineer at Battle Tapes Recording and The Stone Fox venue. She joined Nashville power pop band King Arthur before starting her own band in mid-2013.
Bully’s sophomore record, Losing, was engineered and mixed by Bognanno herself. While in the midst of recording, mixing, and engineering Losing, Bully contributed the song “Right” to the anti-Trump benefit compilation Our First 100 Days, which included tracks from artists such as Angel Olsen, Surfer Blood, and Kevin Morby. “Feel the Same” is raw, honest, and ragged. Equal parts Sonic Youth and Live Through This - era Hole, “Feel the Same” is the ultimate angst anthem. Bognanno's vocals are beautiful, yet powerful and intoxicating. You can hear more from Bully when their album Losing releases this November, and you can catch them on tour this November 12 at Great Scott.
Future Islands is an American synth-pop band based in Baltimore, Maryland, currently comprised of Gerrit Welmers (keyboards and programming), William Cashion (bass, acoustic and electric guitars), and Samuel T. Herring (lyrics and vocals). The band was formed in January 2006 by Welmers, Cashion and Herring (the remaining members of the performance-art-college-band Art Lord & the Self-Portraits) and drummer Erick Murillo.
Future Islands has always defined themselves as more than a studio band--they heavily express themselves through their live performances and have toured extensively. Frontman Sam Herring is known for his stage antics. Due to the band members' art school backgrounds, performance art is in their blood. Herring has been inspired by Ian Curtis, Jamea Brown, and Elvis Presley in his performance style.
“North Star” is a single off of Future Island’s 2017 album The Far Field. Herring's vocals are as powerful and unique as ever. Always a talented lyricist, Herring's use of the actual North Star, a seemingly omnipresent force in nature, and comparing it to the struggle of searching for someone you love, is ironic and wonderfully clever. Future Islands hasn’t announced their tour yet, but you can catch their antics by checking out their side project, The Snails, where they dress up and play songs as, you’ve guessed it - snails.
Marlon Williams is an award winning singer-songwriter and guitarist from Lyttelton, New Zealand. He has performed solo as well as with his current backing group The Yarra Benders. Williams' music style straddles folk, country, bluegrass and the blues, and his latest work incorporates a devious and comedic little twist. “Vampire Again” is Williams’ first new material since releasing his acclaimed debut album early last year, when he also toured relentlessly around the world, performed on CONAN, and even opened for Bruce Springsteen
In creating “Vampire Again,” Williams returned home to his roots in Lyttelton to re-engage in the writing process and work again with producer Ben Edwards. “Vampire Again” is actually inspired by real life events - Williams attended a screening of Nosferatu in Los Angeles on Halloween, all decked out in vampire garb, only to find himself in a room full of people who weren’t feeling as festive as he was. At its core, “Vampire Again” is a tragicomic about a misfit, but the message to leave the song with is that of ultimate self-acceptance. There’s no word on a new album from Mr. Vampire himself, but hopefully Williams will release some more equally smooth and quirky tracks in due time.
LOVE IS BLIND
Jillette Johnson is an American singer-songwriter and musician from New York City. Johnson grew up in NYC and started playing piano and writing music before the age of ten. She started playing live venues in NYC at the age of twelve. Jillette auditioned for The Voice on NBC but turned down the offer to appear on the show so she could focus all of her effort toward her career and her music.
Johnston’s latest musical effort, All I Ever See in You Is Me, was produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb, who has worked with Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. The album was recorded in Nashville at RCA Studio A, the same place where Dolly Parton recorded “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in the same three-hour span.
As told to PopMatters, All I Ever See in You Is Me, is about “growing into my own voice. It’s sparse and loose and there’s nowhere for me to hide. I talk about relating to my family, navigating relationships, and realizing my worth. And it all centers around my home, which is at the piano.” “Love is Blind” is about Jilette’s move from New York to Nashville, getting out of a relationship, and starting all over again. Her milky, yet strong voice conveys the story of letting go to receive the good of the future.