Battle of the Bands preview: Album reviews


University of New Hampshire (UNH) club Memorial Union Student Organization (MUSO) is hosting “Battle of the Bands” on Friday, Feb. 15 in the Entertainment Center of the Memorial Union Building (MUB). The event is free to students and community members alike. Four bands will be battling to win the votes of attendees, with a prize awarded at the end to the winning band.
Debt., hailing from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is a self-proclaimed noisy emo band comprised of members Matthew Bombard, Iain Brouwer, Johnny Gifford and Kallen McCracken. Their album, “Demo.” is a chaotically emotional album that balances all-consuming, statically guttural tracks and soft vulnerability presented through lyrics that, when sung out through stereo spread vocals, feel like whispered secrets. Even tracks that remain void of lyrics, such as “untitled,” contain palpable feelings of anxiety and wistfulness. The record possesses a gritty ability to absorb the listener, truly making you feel like you’re in the room with the band.
The Michael Character, a solo punk act from Boston, is James Ikeda. The Michael Character’s new album, “That’s Why They Call Him Zachy,” released in 2018, adds to an extensive release collection comprised of three full-length albums and an EP. The album “That’s Why They Call Him Zachy” is electric, bookended by the sounds of an intimate pool game and jump-started by a faraway voice calling out the album title into a microphone. The album itself is a verbally charged, politically relevant piece of literature that soars through the medium of digestible, hook-filled punk music. It is impossible to listen idly as Ikeda passionately articulates in songs such as “Toronto” or “Free Speech”; the words and stories draw you in, providing music that not only entertains but educates.
The Woolly Mammoths, originally a New Hampshire-based band that has relocated to Boston, is comprised of members Nathan Arsenault, Connor Bailey, Connor Kennedy, Jake Lennon and Sam Routhier. Their third album, CITYZEN, is a nostalgic anti-celebratory exploration of the loss of adolescence, fused into a synth-rock, spacey, dance-inducing rollercoaster ride. With multiple vocalists and lyricists, the Mammoths juxtapose bitingly-unapologetic pop with a dark undercurrent of rhetorical melancholy, even containing a subtle reference to the eminent Mis(ter) Misery himself, Elliott Smith, with the lead-off dance track “No Confidence Man.” Listening to this record feels like walking home alone in the dark after a night out, with dance music still buzzing in your head, as your mind drifts back into reality and you wonder how you’re going to pay your rent tomorrow.
Be sure to check out these bands on Friday at the MUSO Battle of the Bands!
For full disclosure — I am writing this as a member of the fourth competing band, Daylo. However, being in a local band comprised of UNH students, I hoped to offer readers a glimpse into the other three traveling bands: Debt., The Michael Character and The Woolly Mammoths.