Like a Sisyphean caveat, Dan Bryk’s Christmas Record is quietly rolling uphill, picking up some great reviews along the way…
From Grayson Currin of Independent Weekly:
“The 30-something songwriter, known for his piano playing and keen observational wit, doesn’t hate Christmas, but he certainly doesn’t like it, either. Perhaps the front cover of Christmas Record tells the story of his antipathy best: A bright, red ornament is shattered across an otherwise pristine white floor. The shards are too big for the ornament to have been thrown. It looks like it was hanging high with seasonal spirit. Then it came crashing down. The hook that held it to the branch is still there. Maybe someone bumped into it? Maybe someone shook the tree? Or maybe it just got tired of trying.
That’s the sentiment of a Dan Bryk Christmas, detailed in what has to be one of the most self-effacing Christmas albums ever. It’s predicated neither on seasonal and spiritual joy nor money-making maneuvers. It’s just an honest (if exaggerated) appraisal of the holiday’s inspired difficultiesinfinite loneliness, bad luck, bankrupting ambitions and overactive materialism. You know, the kind of stuff that people call “cheer…”
From Carmen Lyon of Suite 101.com’s Top 10 Indie Christmas Albums
3. Dan Bryk: Christmas Record
“All I can really say is that this is probably the most original of Christmas-themed albums out there. Its so strangely unique that I sometimes wonder how holiday-related it really is, and then I realize thats what Dan Bryk does and thats why I love it!”
From John Sakamoto of the Toronto Star’s Anti-Hit List and Podcast:
2. Dan Bryk
“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.”
From Brian Howe of Pitchfork: “[Four Stars] 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.”
From Jeff Liberty of KV Style Magazine (Kennebecasis Valley, New Brunswick): “Dan is one of the most eloquent lyricists who also possesses a potent sense of humour. He is also a master craftsman of brilliant pop sensibilities. Armed with a piano, Dan was the Indie “It Boy” a few years back. He has since moved south and continues to craft some of the best pop music never heard. The Christmas Record is a great addition to his already rich catalogue and is a must for the true music aficionado. Songs that are sometimes auto-biographical and other unique holiday songs soon to be classics sit side by side on the disc. This CD is for those looking for a Christmas release with a new outlook and maybe one that hits closer to home. My favorite track is Cozy Evenings (Morgan David Remix) and it is maybe one of the best Christmas songs i have ever heard! Fans of Joe Jackson, Ben Folds and Randy Newman will love this cd and i highly recommend ALL of Dan’s CDs.”
From Kerry Doole of Corriere Canadese Tandem (Toronto): “If you’re still searching for a Christmas album with a difference, seek out Christmas Record from DAN BRYK. The former Torontonian is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he’s come up with a disc that is both contemporary and seasonal in sensibility. His melodic piano-driven pop balladry suits the seasonal vibe real well, and he mixes tunes from other songwriters with originals and classics…”
From Gabino Travassos of Mote (Calgary): “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.”
From songs:illinois: “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 Byrk’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.”
And our favourite, from masashi on myspace: “I just bought your X-mas album. Thank goodness, an X-mas album that rocks. You rule.” Thanks man!
Listen to Christmas Record in its entirety here.