Original songs were the order of the night at the Whanganui Musicians Club on Friday, as local musicians competed for the chance to record at Palmerston North's Stomach Studio.
All the songwriters were backed by the club's house band and played one original song each.
Matt Edmonds, front man of Whanganui indie punk band The MeanOwls, emerged victorious with his song "Wheelie On A Bike".
Organiser Annie Keating said the judges - Erna Ferry, Patrick McKenna and Michael Franklin-Browne - had their work cut out to pick a winner.
"It took them ages to make a decision, because every one was worthy," Keating said.
"We had worked out a criteria, with lyrics, melody, performance and X factor, but when the judges locked themselves away to make a decision they had to throw it away and go off their own feelings.
"There were no weak links, that was the awesome thing about it."
Edmonds said the competition, which included a workshop of the songs before Friday's performance, gave everyone "a very level playing field".
"No one could bring a super group along and win it with the band, you had to do it on the merit of the song," Edmonds said.
"I think it's the first time the Musicians Club have used this kind of format and, as a musician and a songwriter, I'm super supportive of it."
The song itself was "an overview of life in general", Edmonds said.
"There's a bit of bravado in the mix, but it's about life and relationships, really.
"The opening salvo is 'I'm going to ride past your house and do a wheelie on my bike', which, at a very impressionable age, was pretty much the coolest thing you could do.
"I finish by saying that if you can't fall in love with a man doing a wheel stand, then you're probably not the right one for me.
"That wraps a lot of life up, really. If you find somebody and there's a cornerstone to where you are coming from that doesn't work right from the outset, just walk away."
Edmonds said the song was the final tune he had written for The MeanOwls' debut album, which, thanks to his first place prize, they would be able to record at the end of June.
The five piece also features his wife, Georgie Ormond, on drums, and two bass players.
"The band ended up playing a lot of shows over summer, so we're pretty fit," Edmonds said.
"Usually you have to go chasing stuff but we got asked to do a lot of cool gigs, and some festivals as well.
"It has moments of absolute glory and moments of absolute train wreck.
"We have good enough musicians that we can harness the train wreck into another direction though."
Edmonds said Whanganui's music scene was "unbelievably strong" at the moment, with great bands across many different genres.
"We're on the verge of a music scene that will rival anywhere else in the country.
"I was very surprised that I was even in the running on Friday, all the songs were bloody brilliant.
"Let's just keeping it forward and turn some heads."
Bethany Coleman took home second prize, and Owen Hugh came in third.