I found myself charmed as a toddler investigating a new toy upon my initial and subsequent listenings of the South Carolinian three-piece, Art Contest.

Aside from the rush of encountering any piece of music you enjoy, much of this feeling I attributed to the unique attack on individual notes compared to the overall cohesion of the passages. Much like an over-cranked jack-in-the-box, every note plucked, picked, tapped, strummed or slammed on their debut album, Math Major has a specific burst to it, yet through each member’s apparent skill, the melodies manage to slide into each other with grace.
Instrumentally, there was an apparent connection (and believe me, I cannot conjure a less organic, yet equally appropriate word) between instruments. At times, the bass and guitar lines seem to unite and become more than two separate bodies. Additionally, the album unveils a jazzy side on the more energetic pieces once the melody is replicated and belted out in unison as percussion. Concerning vocals, the minimal and often whimsical lyrics (which occasionally teeter on the edge of seeming completely random, yet still manage to contain enough inherent meaning for us listeners to project our own) contrast their sharp and forceful delivery.

Among the tracks that really stuck with me, there was one in particular which I had to restart and rewind about one-hundred and seventy-three times (without yet allowing it the courtesy to finish) before fully absorbing its spirit of vitality and overall awesomeness. Clocking in at :49 seconds is ‘Misty Flip’. Though short, it is certainly sweet and packs a punch. This instrumental track opens with a whirling, discombobulating mixed meter, but then just as you are about to tumble, the indecisive rhythm makes up its mind and chooses a steady and consistent groove. It is at this point that I must bashfully admit that there are very few things, given the nature of the world today, that excite me as heavily as a song which allows me to release my inner nerd—who is often spotted manically shouting beat numbers at the top of his lungs—and my inner party animal—who is typically impervious to the fact that he is embarrassing me before the woman I desire simply because he thinks he can dance—within seconds of each other, or better yet, at the same time.

At the end of the day, Art Contest’s style reminds me of early Abe Vigoda with their whirley and energetic sound, and it is sure to develop further with time. However, they are certainly off to a great start.