John Dufilho Hits All The Right Notes On His New John Singer Sergeant Project.
Dallasites with a working knowledge of the local music scene have been long familiar with John Dufilho.
The guy's been a fixture in the scene for years, dating all the way back to when his alternative band The Deathray Davies burst onto the scene with their first album, 1999's Drink With The Grown-ups And Listen To The Jazz. From there, his work became pretty much synonymous with the once ridiculously prominent Idol Records roster as he and the Davies — and, subsequently, his indie-pop side project I Love Math — pumped out quality release after quality release for the local label.
In 2006, though, he kind of stepped back from all that, linking up with with the Apples in Stereo to become their full-time drummer. In turn, aside from a few songs penned for recent Apples records, Dufilho's been largely quiet of late; I Love Math's 2008 release, Getting To The Point Is Beside It was the last we'd really heard from him.
And yet, whenever we'd spot Dufilho out and about town taking in shows or various cultural events — he's somewhat easy to spot with his stark black moptop — he'd tell us he was working, writing and recording. Conversations with Apples frontman Robert Schneider only confirmed as much.
Gotta say: Talks like those tend to get some anticipation brewing. And, today, as Dufilho releases his first new album in four years — a self-titled affair released under his new John Singer Sergeant Moniker — we can't say we're disappointed even in the slightest.
The new album, although featuring music completely penned and performed by Dufilho save for a few supplementary parts, is hardly a solo effort. Quite the opposite, in fact. Each song features a different singer, be it a family member, a close friend or, y'know, just some of the most appreciated and adored performers around. Not a single track features Dufilho's voice; he wrote the lyrics, but left the singing duties to the likes of Ben Kweller, Will Johnson, Sarah Jaffe, Rhett Milller, Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, The Apples' Robert Schneider, Pleasant Grove's Marcus Striplin and Salim Nourallah.
It's an ambitious effort that spans a wide spectrum of pop genres, all the way from psychedelia to disco. Given its collaborative nature, it should be a relatively difficult task to perform these songs live — although Dufilho will try to do just that at the Granada Theater on May 5. But the live show isn't really the selling point here; the album is.
And it really does stand capably on its own in that regard.
To illustrate that point, check out our favorite track from the album — a disco jam called “Dizzy Joy” and featuring North Texas resident and former Kool & The Gang member Sir Earl Toon. Dufilho and the folks at his new label home of Kirtland Records have been kind enough to pass the track along to Central Track as a stream. Listen to it below.
Cover photo by Branton Ellerbee.