If you ask Dallas-based artist John Dufhilo to describe his latest project, Cantina, he’ll probably repeat, with a shrug, what he’s grown used to saying; “We are basically a band of drummers.” This kind of low-key irreverence is a defining factor both musically and personally for a band that actually has a very impressive musical pedigree. Dufhilo (who plays guitar and sings lead) plays with the Apples In Stereo, Philip Peeples (on drums) with the Old 97’s, Jason Garner (on bass) with the Polyphonic Spree and Andy Lester with Dufhilo in his solo project, Deathray Davies. Known as I Love Math, this quartet released two albums, but when banjo player Marcus Hollar came along, it was time for a new name and a fresh outlook. Last Friday, they released their debut album, A Sea of Keys… with only one member on drum duty, and a deliberate lack of cymbals.
Today, Elmore is streaming– and offering a free download of! — “A Letter of Rejection,” a track inspired by a curious and cheeky gift given to Dufhilo, a framed copy of Andy Warhol’s infamous letter from the Museum of Modern Art in 1956, in which they rejected his work for their collection. “The lyrics of the song are lifted nearly verbatim from the letter,” the singer admits, “so the song is really a co-write with Alfred H. Barr, Jr. from the museum.” Though his songwriting chops aren’t on display for this cut, the band shows a knack for mellow, infectious indie-pop. Fuzzy, flat vocals turn the track into a tongue-in-cheek anthem against the smugness of the powers that be, with driving percussion and jangling production that recalls the choppy, poppy work of Dufhilo’s cohorts, the Apples In Stereo.
A Sea of Keys is out now on the Dallas-based We Know Better Records. Connect with the band on Facebook, give “A Letter of Rejection” a spin, and download it below.