Listen Up: Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
John Dufilho

John Dufilho (a.k.a. I remain, as always, a rabble rouser from the mountains) (Glurp Records)

By Caroline Collier

John Dufilho’s grand self-titled solo debut packs a whole lot of John Dufilho into 28 minutes of happy inanity and creative digital musico-mixology. Frontman of two beloved Dallas-based indie outfits — The Deathray Davies and I Love Math — Dufilho somehow found time to write, play every instrument (from guitars to bass to keys to drums), record, and mix 14 brief but variegated neo-pop songs.

Over thick, dense carpets of ambient effects and fuzzy bass is instrumentation that’s sparse enough to allow the listener to identify the individual sonic elements on top. Dufilho complements his skill on the guitar with every other instrument he touches, especially the drums — even though his steady, clangy, poppy stickwork is reminiscent of early Ringo Starr. Like the rest of the album, his work on the skins is lovable in its lack of pretension.

In addition to a distinctly jovial, up-tempo mood, every track includes a fair — not overwhelming — amount of distortion. The sonic ambiguity permeates the entire album, allowing Dufilho to draw from many genres of music yet keep his sound from seeming like patchwork. “You’re the One That Makes Me Lose It” swings like happy piano jazz; “Now I’m a Stick Figure” is a stereotypical indie tune in which the song’s protagonist bemoans his hollow loneliness; “Paper Hats and Campfire Hands” begins with a police radio transmission and loud, rap-style beats before reverting to the stuff that really defines the album — the bright ching-ching-ching of the hi-hat and ruminations on nonsense.

With the advent of cheaper, more accessible recording equipment, a lot of songwriters are taking similar DIY approaches. While Dufilho’s record lacks the multi-dimensionality that only synergy with other musicians can provide, the outcome is impressive not only in that Dufilho pulls it all off but in the nuances of the production details. When you do it all yourself, what you intend is more than likely congruent with what results. Listeners who enjoy finding illumination at a microscopic level, take notice of this “Rabble Rouser From the Mountains.”


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