|Cantina — A Sea of Keys (July 29, 2016)|
Cantina — A Sea of Keys (July 22nd, 2016) • Indie pop can go anywhere and everywhere but the main thing about is to allow the artist to take you where they want you to be. In this case, Cantina want to show our adventurous they are with their songs and musicianship and while it sounds like nothing else you’re listening to today, you want to be there and stay. That is the case with “A Sea Of Keys” (We Know Better) where the five–piece combo will bring in keyboards, bankos, ‘ukulele, drums and things that could be found in a closet or garage and just make awesome pop songs for now people. I like it when someone opens up their world and allows everyone to sit and enjoy what’s going on, and that is what John D. has done, making some songs sound like it was straight out of Athens, GA or perhaps somewhere deep in North Carolina. Some songs are barel even two minutes in length but what they do is have you become familiar with their surroundings and when it’s time to leave, they’ll let you know and you’re on towards another adventure. Cantina are all about sonic adventures but in a minimalistic sense, acoustic pop where the only electricity is the chemistry between them, and it’s a good chemistry heard here. (By John Book, June 25, 2016)
Location: Dallas, Texas
Release Date: July 22nd, 2016
Record Label: We Know Better Records
01 Lucifer 2:20
02 Bulletproof 3:22
03 Hypnotic 1:57
04 A Sea of Keys 1:01
05 A Letter of Rejection 1:41
06 Sympathy for the Strikers 3:22
07 I Keep Floating 2:01
08 God Is the Sun 2:57
09 The Wedding Under the Bridge 3:00
10 These Machines 1:22
11 A Suitcase Full of Plans 2:39
12 Snowman 2:11
13 Black Cat 2:29
14 Wedding Theme 0:24
15 Hallucination 3:42
• “We are basically a band of drummers,” says John Dufilho of Dallas~based group, Cantina.
Accurate, but when considering that
• John Dufilho (guitar, vocals) also plays with Elephant 6 co~founders The Apples In Stereo (as well as his beloved solo project, The Deathray Davies),
• bassist Jason Garner (Dufilho’s friend of a quarter~century) can be found among the throng that is The Polyphonic Spree, and
• Philip Peeples (the only drummer in Cantina who actually drums in Cantina) is member of The Old 97’s, maybe not basic? Rounding out Cantina’s lineup is Dufilho’s Deathray Davies cohort
• Andy Lester, along with banjo player,
• Marcus Hollar (late of Dropkick Murphys singer Mike McColgan’s punk band, Street Dogs.)
• Joe Butcher Pedal Steel
• Trey Carmichael Package Design
• John Dufilho Bass, Composer, Drums, Engineer, Mixing, Producer, Ukulele, Vocals
• Jason Garner Bass, Vocals (Background)
• Marcus Hollar Banjo, Composer
• Petra Kelly Vocals (Background)
• Andy Lester Guitar, Piano
• Rich Martin Piano
• Chris Mayes Trombone
• Philip Peeples Drums
• Matt Pence Mastering
• Cantina, having previously released two albums under the name I Love Math before the addition of Hollar, will now bring out its debut album A Sea of Keys on July 22nd via Dallas~based We Know Better Records. Dufilho notes that while 60% of the members of Cantina are drummers (“three of us make a living playing music, the other two are the smart ones”), as a hard and fast rule, no cymbals are ever used on A Sea of Keys. So, don’t listen for that, and don’t listen for these guys to perform “that song” from “Star Wars” either.
• Seriously, A Sea of Keys arrives with a pedigree: AllMusic previously referred to the band as a “supergroup,” and the masterful sensitivity of the songs on A Sea of Keys do little to detract from that notion. Dufilho’s thoughtful tunes ~ the Austin Chronicle previously described him as “a ravenous songwriter working without a net” ~ take cues from country~rock, power pop, and the charming harmonies of the Everly Brothers. The songs never overstay their welcome; each is a conversation that never suffers an awkward beat. No pun intended.
• A perfect example is the album’s first single and video, “Bulletproof,” which captures both the ability and the obvious humor of this band.
• Dufilho explains, saying, “I woke up drunk, with the worst cold I can remember. So I did what I always do when my voice is much lower than usual ~ I started singing Johnny Cash and Magnetic Fields songs.” Before sobriety could kick in, Dufilho hit play on a banjo riff that Hollar had sent the day before, then hit record on his vocals, and presto, “it was ‘Bulletproof.’ Start to finish, a first and final take. I got in my car and drove home and I’ve never been able to sing it in that key since.”
• No need, as the song is perfectly captured in its raw state here forever, along with fourteen other similarly free~jamming gems.
• “A lot of these songs are based on a short story I wrote, also titled “A Sea of Keys,” Dufilho explains, making sense of why these tunes sound so intimate. It’s an effortless listen from a band that, despite its modest claim, isn’t basic.
• A Sea of Keys by Cantina arrives on July 22nd, 2016 via Dallas~based We Know Better Records.
Peter Lindblad, August 22nd, 2016 / Score: 93
• That dream factory of surrealistic, experimental indie~pop known as the Elephant 6 Collective never really closed its doors for good. As drummer for the Apples in Stereo since 2006, John Dufilho — also the driving force behind indie~rock darlings the Deathray Davies — likely has his own key to the place, which would be a good home for Cantina, too.
• A super group of sorts, Cantina once called itself I Love Math before banjo player Marcus Hollar climbed aboard, and their latest effort is A Sea of Keys, a cryptic yet evocative title that Jeff Mangum probably wishes he could steal. Delightfully eclectic and engaging, with a clean, breezy air about it, this superbly crafted 15~song set flies by all too quickly, kind of like summer. And “God is the Sun” is perfect beach music, undeniably cool and catchy, while “Lucifer,” “Hypnotic” and “Suitcase Full of Plans” lightly bounce along with a jaunty, carefree sensibility that’s utterly infectious.
• Even odd curiosities such as “Snowman” and the creeping “Black Cat” are inventive and interesting, rather than off~putting, while “The Wedding Under the Bridge” is a throwback to vintage ‘60s folk~pop that envisions Elliot Smith on mood elevators fronting the Beach Boys. Whereas a wheeling “Bulletproof” is pure alt.~country catnip for Jimmy Webb disciples.
• Experimental, without being aloof and pretentious, Cantina — featuring the Polyphonic Spree’s Jason Garner, Philip Peeples from the Old 97s and Dufilho’s old Deathray Davies mate Andy Lester, as well as Hollar — lures skeptics with gentle but insistent hooks that turns them into daydream believers. A diverse mix of instrumentation, including everything from ukuleles to piano, fuzzed~out guitar and drums without cymbals, breeds even more fascination, making A Sea of Keys, with much of its lyrical content based on a Dufilho short story, a sweet vacation from bland normalcy. • http://www.elmoremagazine.com/
• 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.~ © Cantina by Karlo X. Ramos
|Cantina — A Sea of Keys (July 29, 2016)|