If it seems like we’ve been waiting for an inordinately long time for Art Contest’s Two Songs to drop, well, it’s because we have. The follow-up to their 2014 debut Math Major was supposed to have been released two years ago, but a home invasion robbed the band of critical equipment and some of their original recordings, forcing the genre-bending duo to begin anew. It was a crushing blow for a band that, at the time, was riding a crest of popular and critical support and seemed to be gearing up for a breakout year. But rather than throwing their hands up in despair, the group buckled down and pressed onward.
Fast forward to just this month and you’ll find guitarist Cole Monroe and drummer Garrett Burke quickly regaining the momentum they once lost. Although Two Songs doesn’t officially drop until this Friday, June 2, you can already stream the 17-track LP in its entirety via Stereogum.
Additionally, the pair recently unveiled the video for album single “Horror” on High Times of all places. If that seems like an odd outlet to release a music video, just spend a few moments watching the trippy 360° visuals and you’ll begin to understand and appreciate the decision. Art Contest’s experimental mix of sprightly math rock, noise, jazz, and pop — an endlessly shifting concoction which the duo have taken to calling “probability and statistics” rock — has always possessed a kind of surreal and mind-expanding bent, and “Horror” does nothing if not accentuate that perception. Amidst a dazzling onslaught of spiky guitars, sharp hooks, and spastic rhythms, director Michael Lauden’s amorphous collage spins and rotates at the user’s will, revealing a small galaxy’s worth of framed images, weird space creatures, and psychedelic geometric figures. Much like the band’s music, it’s a fully immersive experience, and just as mind-blowing.
Art Contest will celebrate the release of Two Songs on Thurs., June 8 at Mammal Gallery and Sat., June 10 at Caledonia Lounge. Supporting them at Mammal Gallery will be Floral Print, Fuiste, and We Roll Like Madmen (DJ set). Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. 18+ to enter. Supporting them at Caledonia Lounge will be Killick Erik Hinds, Nihilist Cheerleader, and Fuiste. Doors open at 9 p.m. 18+ to enter.