Art Contest - Math Major (Greensville, South Carolina)
Who It Is: Art Contest – Math Major; Self-Released (2014)
What It Sounds Like: Cap’n Jazz, I Kill Giants, Canada, Bonjour Machines
When I was about nine years old I constantly stumbled around Wikipedia refreshing The Killers’s page to see new information regarding an album or just cool facts about the band. (I don’t think I knew there were music websites or how to use Google really, so Wikipedia was my gold mine for information.) I ended up on the Wikipedia page for “Genres” several times from related links and would read about all these different genres, usually thinking black metal was scary and math rock seemed gross and weird. Nearly a decade later I notice my initial observations weren’t completely off. Black metal is scary (and awesome) and math rock is not-so-much gross, but incredibly weird. This long anecdote is to say Art Contest is weird.
But is weird bad? No! Of course not. Weird is just weird. Math rock doesn’t make sense. Unless you’re a Math Major I guess, is that the pun we’re supposed to get here? Maybe. Regardless, Art Contest submit their entry for this “Art Contest” that is the music world and it’s definitely one of the more abstract pieces in this competition. Lyrically, the term gibberish seems appropriate as they’re shouting nonsense. “sound of sharp wail/broken black nails/punch” is among the more normal lyrics on this album. It reminds me a lot of Cap’n Jazz in that I don’t think you’re supposed to look into it too much and rather just enjoy the sort of lunacy of it. Or maybe there are intensely complex layers behind “i was kissing my dad and didn’t even know it/i was crashing my car and no one ever told me/i fell in a ditch and i didn’t even see it/i ran out of luck and i didn’t even feel it”. Maybe there are layers and I’m too narrow to see it. The important thing is they’re fun interesting lyrics to wrap your head around.
Math rock quickly becomes heavily guitar-driven music and can either progressively become more gripping or redundant. Art Contest lean a bit on both ends. The sporadic riff into speedy chord progression style found on this album is fun but after 13 songs can be tiring. There are moments where it stands out like on “Banana Boat” and “WAV” because the accompanying drum, bass, and vocal lines really help their music stick out from the hordes of math rock aficionados. I think more filtering for which songs make up an album would’ve benefitted a lot as opposed to writing and compiling a collection. For a first LP though this is immensely impressive and I’m excited to see where they may go next. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll fill the hole in my heart that I Kill Giants breaking up left me with…
Favorite Song(s): Banana Boat, WAV, Tripp Pants
- Jorge “Arsonist” Velez is one of the only criminals writing with Funeral Sounds. He once burnt Mark’s entire house down and killed Alex in the process (RIP Alex fly high 2013). He’s also under investigation for hate crimes against Long Island girls due to his constant unwarranted, relentless abuse to the species. Regardless of his growing criminal record, Jorge’s personality is a prime example of what “emo” really means which is why he and Funeral Sounds are a perfect match.