Critical Mass-acre

Some mostly-positive reviews of my Dan Bryk recordings. Can a brotha get a pull quote puh-lease! 

Pop Psychology

[Best Albums of 2009] “A strong candidate for best album of the year… a triumph of intelligence and wit, an oasis in a world full of idiots.” -Lucid Culture

“Bryk is a Clipse for Burt Bacharach fans, peddling witty cynicism like crack. Pop Psychology adds up to an acerbic but ultimately forgiving snapshot of the mercurial musical world Bryk inhabits. [7.4/10]” -Pitchfork

[Best of 2009: #1] “The most perceptive release of the year -– and perhaps the most brutal yet certainly witty music ever written about the music industry itself. The tunes are good, real good.” -Duly Consider

“Bryk loads Pop Psychology with sweet hooks and arrangements. He may never be famous, but Bryk is too talented and too conscientious a craftsman to release an album that’s not bursting at the seams with quality pop music.” -Trouser Press

“Dan Bryk has an old-school pop sense grounded in the golden age, when the Kinks, Beach Boys and Beatles created the template for layered, ornate and well-crafted catchiness. What saves Bryk from musty nostalgia is a lyrical persona firmly grounded in the 21st century.” -Raleigh News & Observer

[Musikal Awards Top 30 of 2009] “Un album pop ispirato, fresco e leggero. Piccoli inni tascabili, melodie a presa rapida e ballate sghembe. Il paffuto canadese che ora vive a New York ha l’ironia di Randy Newman, la classe di Costello, l’immediatezza di Daniel Johnston e l’istinto lo-fi dei Pavement.” -Kalporz

“Each clever turn of phrase, jangly guitar, layer of odd instrumentation, and overdubbed vocal is a revelation.” -Songs:Illinois

“A corrosive concept album about the music business and people dumb enough to get involved in it, is a genuine classic. When it comes to purist pop tunesmithing, this guy is unsurpassed: Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann and Ward White could pick up a trick or two from him.”  -New York Music Daily

“At its defining moments, this album has the makings of a melodic miracle — something which is evident as early on as the first track. A long, long, long overdue opus from this frightfully talented slave to the (perfect pop) song.” -Indieville

“[Bryk’s] somewhat crazed imperfection is about the closest thing to inspired that I can imagine.” -Aiding and Abetting

[Best of 2009] “A treasure that few will unearth, but one that will be held tight by all that take the time to listen.” -Hero Hill


Discount Store

“Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Bryk isn’t so much folksy as he is popsy—if such a word exists. Bryk brings a highbrow-pop verve to many of these seven songs beginning with the chipper title track which is simple yet elegant at the same time.” -PopMatters

“A subtle socio-political commentary couched in a personal confessional that legitimizes its premise, and delivered in bubble-gum pop so addictive you’ll be humming it for weeks afterward: “The clock needs punchin’/The man is watchin’/And the union’s gone for good/With all this freedom/How come there’s no fun left in the neighborhood?” In the end it’s Bryk’s way with a hook that reminds us what all the fuss and anticipation is about.” -Shuffle

“[Record Of The Day] For all the lo-fi charm it possesses, this is tuneful, accessible indie packed with wry lyrical wit and a fine pop sensibility. Taking up a similar place to the aforementioned Fountains of Wayne, it could definitely have a market over here.” -Music Today UK

“Smartass piano pop that’s full of self-deprecating wit and cynical humor. Ben Folds or Randy Newman would be obvious comparisons, but that wouldn’t do a whole lot to highlight the way the songs on Discount Store aren’t afraid to let a guitar come up in the mix… Dan Bryk can write a damn fine pop song.” -The Daily Tar Heel

“Brilliant Pop… you can trust me when I say this stuff is awesome. I only need to hear one jangly strum, or those high-pitched, perfect-pop vocals or his clever lyrics to know I’m hooked.” -Songs:Illinois

“[Top 40 of 2007] It’s been almost 8 years since Dan Bryk gave us his brilliant and near-perfect power pop masterpiece Lovers Leap… [Bryk’s] signature self-effacing wit, pop sensibilities, and warbly voice remain as quirky as ever, however – thank goodness!” -Meta:Ball

“Packed with songs that tackle funny, confessional and often blunt heartbreaking lyrics wrapped in some of the catchiest pop melodies out there.” -Frostclick

“Fun, bouncy and upbeat Discount Store showcases Bryk’s talent writing catchy, memorable lyrics that will have listeners remembering songs and singing them to themselves as they would commercial jingles.” -Performer

“Discount Store displays the same blend of acerbic wit, earnest banality and soaring melodicism that made his 2000 LP, Lover’s Leap, a bona fide cult classic. Discount Store is another tempting teaser from one of the most talented, not-normalest singers in the Triangle.” -Independent Weekly

“Irresistably catchy… Bryk’s honest, funny lyrics flirt with self-deprecatory gloom and loneliness.” -Glorious Noise

“Dan Bryk is quite entrancing. He plays piano ariettas that will make your heart flutter just like a teenager with a first crush. His voice is honestly emotive, his lyrics easily comprehensible, following many storylines of love lost, life forgotten and dreams remembered. Bryk has pop music down to a tee. Peel back each onion skin and you’ll be shocked by what sounds you hear in unison. It’s layered pop.” -Encore

[Top 13 of 2007] “This piano man is another best kept secret destined for global pop domination. ” -KV Style Magazine


Christmas Record

“You know of course that the guy who wrote “…and Now Our Love is Dead” didn’t just release a chirpy little Christmas album full of family-friendly good cheer. Nor is this a sarcastic stab in the heart of the holiday season that you might expect from a smug indie rocker. Instead this is an entertaining, sensitive yet comedic, singer singwriter album similar to his 2000 release Lovers Leap, but instead the songs are about Christmas, a tete-a-tete with Jesus Christ, and a long drive across the United States… it will keep you alive with indie rock Christmas tales year round.” -Mote

“Nicely twisted confessional pop… Rufus Wainwright meets Ben Folds, drunk, at a Christmas party” -The Wilmington Star-News

[“Love Me For Christmas” ★★★★ track review] “Sleigh bells and chimes are a hallmark of popular Yuletide songs, evoking so much winter wonder at once–reindeer on the roof, hansom carriages in the snow, tinkling icicles falling from the eaves. Leave it to wittily depressive Dan Bryk to warp their good cheer toward the doomy, intoning them like funeral bells amid the ominous drums and minor-key pianos of this gloom-pop Christmas crash ‘n’ burn. A real grinch, all right, but anyone who’s got a shitty Christmas or two under their belt will know what he means. Oh, did I mention that the song is kind of a suicide note? Merry Christmas.” -Pitchfork

“Songcraft is the game Dan Bryk plays, and he gets a triple-double with about half of the songs he writes.” -The Independent

[Anti-Hit List #2: Christmas Ballad] “In which the displaced Torontonian (he now calls North Carolina home) encounters Jesus changing a flat tire in the parking lot of a Radio Shack and becomes reacquainted with the true meaning of the season. What ensues may be intermittently sardonic after preaching about peace and the wings of a dove, “Jesus” self-deprecatingly observes, “I know they’re clichés, but they work” – yet the overall tone of earnestness deftly plays against the song’s comic premise.” -Toronto Star

“Someone halfheartedly complained recently in the comments section that the Christmas song I linked to didn’t sound enough like Christmas. I guess they meant an idealized Christmas where everyone’s happy and families get along and we don’t have to go back to work the next day. But the majority of folks don’t live that Christmas so here’s Dan Bryk’s (although “Cozy Evenings” is a cover) take on Christmas. These are songs that use Christmas as a backdrop to make some broader point, usually a very melancholy one about loneliness and missed opportunities. Because of that they are timeless and not just something to be consumed and used up over the holidays.” –songs:illinois

[Top Ten Indie Christmas Albums: #3] “All I can really say is that this is probably the most original of Christmas-themed albums out there. It’s so strangely unique that I sometimes wonder how holiday-related it really is, and then I realize that’s what Dan Bryk does and that’s why I love it!” -Suite 101


Lovers Leap

“Rock nerd Dan Bryk is as good as pop gets. Lovers Leap is the best pop record of 2000, and nothing in 2001 has yet to knock it out of that top spot.” -Wilmington News Journal

“Gemlike acts of idiosyncratic genius. [A minus]-Christgau Consumer Guide

“It’s no small feat to simultaneously evoke Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, They Might Be Giants, and Momus, but Canadian songwriter Dan Bryk pulls it off with style and wit. A sparkling pop palimpsest.” -Pitchfork

“A cult classic rightly hailed for its golden-age-of-pop hooks and clever self-effacing narratives.” -Shuffle

“A Randy Newman for Generation Y, performing sad songs of lost love at the Donut Hut, and mining his heartbreak with the wryest of smiles. [#2 of Top 10 Best Bands of SWSW]-Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times/Sound Opinions

“Where most geek-rockers wear their made-up virginity like a badge, Bryk recounts his love life with unsettling candor and insight.” -The Japan Times

“Bryk’s songwriting is of a caliber to support comparisons to Burt Bacharach or Randy Newman, and his ballads in particular are stunning enough to make conversation stop.” -CMJ

“A glimmering collection of pop songs about such decidedly non-pop subjects as software programmers and pederasts.” -Detour

“Le pire compliment qu’on ait fait å Dan Bryk, c’est de lui dire que sa musique est super et tout, «mais qu’elle s’adresse seulement aux amateurs de musique»” -ICI Montreal

“Valuable and rare, Bryk writes from the kind of wretched but funny point of view normally associated with frustrated female songwriters.” -New York Daily News

“It doesn’t sound like your typical pop record, and it’s not—this is geek rock of the finest variety, with the mannerisms of Pavement ricocheting off the updated classic rock sensibility of Ben Folds Five, all with Bryk’s sensitive jerk lyrical spin.” -All Music Guide

“Bryk’s songs are bits of shimmering head magic for the hyper-aware set.” -Magnet

“Singular oddities that go from funny to sad to weird at warp speed. Take a Leap; you won’t regret it.” -Denver Westword

“The self-deprecating genius surrounding himself in the fat guy’s deflector shield.” -Dallas Observer

“Bryk lays out the particulars of his private life in the Billy Bragg/Loudon Wainwright III tradition—when not crooning elegies to highways that never got built.” -Exclaim

“A killer falsetto, a knack for indelible hooks, and a one-of-a-kind sensibility – a mixture of depressive cynicism, jaded wit, and maudlin earnestness. I love Dan Bryk because his music reminds me of the undying power of pop songcraft, even at times when my tastes are skewing abstract and obscure.” -Moistworks

“A master of pop hooks on a par with Difford and Tilbrook or Ben Folds” -Trouser Press

“Dan Bryk is a sumo champion of nerd pop.” -CMJ Music Monthly

“Bryk gets away with murder on his brilliantly offbeat Lovers Leap. Sleep with him at your peril.” -Now Toronto

“Bryk’s gift is that he can turn just about anything into music… Lovers Leap may well be remembered as one of the year’s most interesting discoveries, a brilliant pop parcel that blends the real with the surreal, one that’s distinctive and different yet infused with rock references.” -Amplifier

“Americans are confused by Canadians ability to be funny… This is why: Canada is fucking cold and we have a good educational system. This means we watch TV and have the ability to memorize it and analyze it with comedic clarity. Thats why.” -VICE

“Lovers Leap reveals a heart with a voracious appetite.” -Time Out New York

“The greatest pop genius you never heard of.” -Metropolis (Japan)

“A bona fide cult classic.” -Independent Weekly

A Solid ‘Nay’

“When a man has no voice and seriously lacks material to write, you get Lovers Leap, the latest release from Dan Bryk. Bryk’s pubescent vocals, filled with voice cracks, are a major flaw for this album. The poor song writing does not help, since most of the lyrics are silly. Unfortunately, this is not an album that one should feel compelled to rush out and purchase.” -The UWO Gazette

And a hilarious sideswipe from a review of Sufjan Stevens’ Come On Feel The Illinoise, which I actually love

“Imagine a warped Randy Newman or a more ambitious Dan Bryk (that’s no insult about Bryk; 2000’s Lover’s Leap is a fine record) and you’ll come close to picturing Stevens’ musical scope: piano based music that straddles genres and generations. Sadly, despite Stevens’ obvious talent, Illinois is one of 2005’s contenders for overrated record of the year. Critics are in love with this overweening entry in a supposed 50-state project (Stevens has now released concept CDs about Michigan and Illinois). I have no idea if Stevens is an admirer of Newman or Bryk, but he could certainly learn much from both, especially brevity and restraint.” -UnpaidRockCritic


Rocks Nobody

“A piano-powered blast of witty misanthropy… second track [CFNY] is an amusingly cutting jab at a well-known local modern rock station.” –The Toronto Star

“Bridging the lengthier-than-expected gap between Dan Bryk, Asshole and Lovers Leap, Dan Bryk Rocks Nobody offers up a terrific trilogy of tracks celebrating rejection… Rock Nobody rocks much harder than you’d think.” –All-Music Guide

“Dan Bryk wields backhanded humor and a keen eye for the absurd details of modern life in his canny, bitingly sarcastic songs… Bryk’s lyrics are always daringly frank and sparkling with insight.” –


We Don’t Care (single)

“It’s funny that singers who cynically exploit idealized notions of plastic beauty and weighty fate scan as earnest and sensitive, while cynical Bryk’s representations of the actual world, where physically flawed, terminally bored people half-heartedly find and lose each other all the time, contain so much more truth and empathy.” -Pitchfork



Dan Bryk, Asshole

Dan Bryk, Asshole

“Listening to Bryk’s lyrics, it seems as though he’s had every relationship I’ve had, which may explain why he sounds so miserable. Over the course of Asshole, he blames his exes, he blames fate, he blames that ever-dicey love-lust equation, and mostly he blames himself… Bryk’s forte is his lyrics — as funny and smart as they are clever, and they can be wickedly clever in their wordplay and wry reworkings of romantic platitudes. If his humour and pointed observations and ruminations about romantic adventures are this biting while he’s in his early 20s, it’ll be fun to hear how acerbic and crotchety he gets in about 20 years when he’s writing about his mid-life crisis.” -Exclaim

“Who else could pull off an ode to a computer programmer, or a song about stalking the Prime Minister’s daughter in revenge for free trade? How many people would come up with the line “she asked if there was more to life than this/all I could offer was the number of my therapist”? And so we come to the matter of the album’s title: Is Bryk truly an asshole? Well, probably not, even though he’s open enough with his feelings to make people feel uncomfortable. And yes, he’s a smart-ass. But he’s also emotionally honest and smart, if perhaps a bit naïve at times.” -AllMusic

Dan Bryk, Now! EP [included on Asshole CD]

“For a homemade cassette, this is pretty high-quality stuff and could possibly lead Dan to a major label deal. Unfortunately this is one of those situations where you want to try and be fair to the guy, but with his lyrical content it’s pretty hard to offer him much patience… catchy in an alternative-lite way, but sheesh, writing a song about fucking your girlfriend’s best friends, and then judging them cuz of what they did behind her back is not only unenlightened, it’s just plain tired.” -Exclaim