“Banana Boat” (free download, what!?) is a sick track from math rock band Art Contest. The Greenville, South Carolina group cleverly calls their genre “probability and stats rock” which pretty much sums up their innovative and original take on rock. Their first full-length album, Math Major, is one of a kind, at least nowadays, for its endearing lo-fi quality which seems to muffle Cole Monroe’s guitars on songs like “Banana Boat” and subdue drummer Garrett Burke’s more frenetic rhythms on tracks such as “Misty Flip” and “Riff Raff.” While you may be more inclined to lump the band into the emo category, Math Major shows that Art Contest is much more than that plain label, as the album feels more like a jazz record at times.
The album is energetic but doesn’t succumb to aggression or arrogance like so many other records are guilty of. It also has its slower, more subdued moments on songs such as “Jungle Book” that thrum softly that bloom in soft bursts at the end of each phrase. Other songs like “Bed Time” sway slowly, but then swell into looming landscapes when the chorus hits. You could say that Math Major best illustrates how Art Contest is capable of reaching well beyond the boundaries of conventional and math rock to realms where few bands have gone before.