Click to hear: “Tenure”
Bullyclub’s new album, Tenure, marks their tenth year as a band. Congrats, guys. It’s a real achievement to survive a decade playing Portland nightclubs for sparse crowds and spare reward. You’ve more than earned the three bucks you’re sellingTenure for at the CD release show this coming Thursday.
This is more like a $5 album. One might conceivably be inspired to download about half of the 11 tracks here for .99 cents a pop at the iTunes store. Last year’sBabbleluck is available through Apple’s virtual music shop, and by comparison, it’s worth the whole $9.90.
Tenure is OK. It’s not awful, though as usual, there are a few cringe-inducing lyrics (“She’s a fisher of men / and I’m a fisherman” – ack!). Bullyclub has released another batch of radio-friendly pop-rock. Singer-songwriter Doug Cowan and company all sound as good as ever. But the hooks are fewer and farther between than on their previous effort.
When the material here does get catchy, as on the bridge to the chorus of “If I Was a Hammer,” or the entirety of “Jackie Grisham and the Herd,” the band exhibits a sophisticated pop sensibility befitting its tenured status. Other times, as on the bouncy but done-before “Right to Life,” it sounds like they’re just low on ideas.
The obligatory down-tempo numbers drag more than shimmer, and the mid-range stuff, like “I Know I’m on Fire” and “Play Well With Others,” isn’t as strong as similar fare like “Rocket,” “Shinola” and “Heavier Than Metal,” fromBabbleluck.
The noisy title track, Tenure‘s closer, provides a measure of redemption. Drummer John Nunan digs into a groove, bassist John Denkmire emerges from the mix, and Cowan and fellow guitarist Mark McDonough throw some meaty riffs at each other. There’s a cool spacey section toward the end, and a smart lyric that sums things up perfectly: “Not playing for the gas / Not playing for hard knocks / Hardly playing for no fans / This is dependent rock.”
Yup, it sure is, but cheers to you for still doin’ it. I’ll still look forward to hearing the next one.
– Chris Busby
Bullyclub plays a CD release show on Thurs., Nov. 29, at Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, at 9 p.m. The Nuclear Waste Management Club, featuring former Bullyclubber and ongoing Spouse frontman Jose Ayerve, opens. Tix: $7 (18+). 828-5600. space538.org. myspace.com/bullyclub.