Dan Wallace
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Dan Wallace

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rock music at its surreal, imaginative best"

Put simply, Culture Of Self is about daring to be different, and the magic that comes when you do. Even if it were only half as good as it is, it should be treasured for its originality alone.

Quite rightly the spectre of Frank Zappa is summoned because, like Zappa, Dan Wallace doesn’t see things in quite the same way as we mere mortals. Culture Of Self is also a glorious reminder of a golden age when more care was put into the ‘building’ of an album as the marketing of it.

No doubt the non-linear approach that Wallace has taken will infuriate as many as it delights, anything as theatrical and surreal as this is bound to divide opinion. In music only the bland unites and this is anything but bland.

It will help if you let your mind run as free as Dan Wallace’s obviously did, Culture of Self is a kaleidoscope of sounds, written in big bold colours, best just to run with it. However, a lack of any true reference point makes it almost impossible to sum up, it is what it is, rock music at its surreal, imaginative best.

In the end it doesn’t matter what you call Culture Of Self, it’s the ideas that it challenges and stimulates that are important. Maybe the key lies in surrendering yourself to the wonderland created by the fevered brow of Dan Wallace, an artist in its truest sense. -Michael Mee, Oct 2007 - Americana UK

"This is Imaginative, intelligent music"

How did I come across this guy, Dan Wallace? He has some fantastic music here on his album, Neon and Gold, music which is different enough to my ears to cause them to prick up and familiar enough to slip into those well worn ruts in my musical taste. Chicago based Wallace has a fondness for minor chord sadness and his voice is well suited to it… here’s an example:
+fell +jacques +too soon +maybe
This is not your typical sounding indie boy, but this is imaginative and intelligent music… someone was thinking when they made it and that will get you thinking. -Alan Williamson, May 2006 - *Sixeyes

"There’s definitely something innovative about Neon and Gold"

Singing with the same suave whine that made you fall in love with Morrissey, Chicago-based artist Dan Wallace waxes poetic on his latest release, Neon and Gold. Rocking drums and multiple electric guitars contrast nicely with Wallace’s dreamy lyrics. “I fell upon a face tattooed in bronze / It had an air of grace, knee-deep in sin,” he sings in “Fell.” Stacked harmonies and classical guitar decorate “Ladies, Gentlemen,” while “Too Soon” carries a chaotic, circus-like air as Wallace pounds out dissonant chords on the piano while singing of illicit bargains and rebirth.

It would be too easy just to categorize the entire album as avant-garde, but there’s definitely something innovative about Neon and Gold. Maybe it’s the neo-psychedelic arrangements, the Alice-in-Wonderland lyrics or the smooth-as-silk delivery. Maybe we should listen again. -Mare Wakefield, Jul/Aug 2006 - Performing Songwriter Magazine

"Wallace wastes no time proclaiming his aural affection for a few different strains of guitar goddery"

Dan Wallace wastes no time proclaiming his aural affection for a few different strains of guitar goddery on Reattachment (Torito Bravo). The album’s melodies slide over and around beds of ax triumph that effortlessly recall the best of Robert Quine’s latter work with Matthew Sweet. Wallace is tasteful with his indulgences, however; in fact, it is downright refreshing to hear some 32nd note trilling in the context of such songs as the title track and the elegant, Django Reinhardt stylings of “Odd Man Out”. It must be assumed that this is quite a treat to witness live, with Wallace’s supple fingerwork providing all the pyrotechnics necessary. -David Mead, Sep/Oct 2008 - American Songwriter Magazine

"Reattachment reveals Wallace’s brilliance as a rock composer"

Dan Wallace has managed to do it again.

Repeating his success but not retracing his musical steps, Wallace gives us “Reattachment”, the follow-up to last year’s eclectic and mesmerizing “Culture of Self” album. Self-revelatory without becoming self-indulgent, “Reattachment” reveals Wallace’s brilliance as a rock composer and instrumentalist as well as his gift for writing and delivering obscure but intriguing lyrics. As has been his pattern, Dan Wallace has once again produced an original album not designed for the mainstream or the musically squeamish.

The opening track, “Reattachment,” is a moody, moderate-tempo track that begins with an exquisite burst of guitar work over a bed of bass, acoustic guitar and drums, followed shortly by the introduction of Wallace’s vocals. The over-all effect is like Jack Bruce channeling David Bowie’s Commander Tom as Wallace sings harmony parts separated by at least an octave, the near-falsetto lead part dominating and lending an air of ‘lost-ness’ to the lyric. An MRI scan of Wallace’s brain is used in the CD cover art (by Vesna Jovanovic), and emphasizes the fact that Wallace is inviting us into his deepest observances, disappointments, confusions and conclusions about life up to this point.

Like on “Culture of Self”, Wallace treats us to some instrumental pieces on “Reattachment”. “South of Heaven” is a delightful waltz featuring Dan on acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals, “Brittle Tongues” is a short guitar piece with a slightly oriental flavor, and “Elegy” is an elegant acoustic guitar composition featuring dazzling finger work and a classical/jazz/flamenco approach that results in slightly more than four minutes of guitar-lovers’ heaven. Although Wallace’s background in chamber music is evident even in the rock compositions, it becomes even more noticeable in his solo guitar moments like this one.

Introduced by a barrage of drums, “Invisible Lines” displays Wallace’s amazing use of melody, time changes and interesting chord progressions, as he effortlessly creates perfect musical sense out of dissonance, melodic leaps and carnival-like tempo changes. Behind all of this is Wallace’s amazing guitar, bass, synth, hand drum and vocal skill. As a singer, Wallace has great range and a vulnerable, unaffected style: able to slip in and out of falsetto parts, and possessing a natural vibrato at the end of a phrase, Wallace’s voice falls somewhere between Brian Wilson and Dan Hicks (speaking of Dan Hicks – “Odd Man Out,” with its Django-esqe guitar licks and frantic pace, sounds tailor-made for Hicks and his Hot Licks!).

“Spellbound,” for its surreal and disturbing lyrics (“…razor in the right hand / drugs in the milk / these surreal amnesia dreams / slinking through guilt labyrinthine …”) is a progressive art-pop tour-de-force, with Wallace at his most appealingly off-beat Beach Boys-meet-Todd Rundgren mode, throwing in a stunning jazz-pop section near the end. It’s ‘out there’ enough to make it a challenging listen, and engaging enough to capture all but the dullest of ears.

_Reattachment_ is full of good moments, such as the Zappa-like guitar solo on “Go Ahead,” and the surprisingly straight-forward love song, “Easy Come Easy Go,” which closes the album on a non-threatening, gentle note. This eclectic project is not without its poignant moments, one of which comes on the haunting “Thanks For the People,” where Wallace asks: “if I am nothing, what does that make you? / if you are nothing, what does that make me? / thank you for tearing me apart here today / You don’t have to, I don’t ask you / you do it anyway…” Still, he ends with the words, “Thank you for hearing.”

Thanks, Dan Wallace, for giving us so much to hear. -Bert Saraco, Aug 2008 - The Phantom Tollbooth

"Another unqualified winner"

On his fourth album, this Chicago-based troubadour and ex-Pindrops frontman serves up another nourishing helping of stylish indie rock with pinches of classical seasonings, playing most everything himself. Outside of the opening guitar workout “Look at Me,” and the bouncy, electro-poppy “Take It Back,” his mood is quieter and more introspective. He’s also nostalgic, reworking two songs from 2006's debut Neon and Gold, “Vante Left Them Human” and “Fell,” in an unplugged form with Emanuel Ban’s spirited violin accompaniment, and providing a new vocal take for “I Want to Be” (previously sung by guest Robin Morgan on 2007's Culture of Self). Despite his aching and despondent lyrics, varied songs such as the sweeping, orchestral “Go Away,” Django Reinhardt-inspired “Morceau,” and piano-driven “Fever” ensure the LP is another unqualified winner. - Mark Suppanz, Spring 2010 - Big Takeover Magazine

"Still amazing after all these years"

This album has quite possibly the worst cover in history. The thumbnail doesn’t do it justice. Luckily, I know Dan Wallace and I know that what lies inside is so much better than any cover.

Wallace tends to shift his musical focus from album to album. Everything connects to atmospheric rock at some point, but he’s wandered off on roots trails and even gotten a little punky at times. This outing finds him settling into lush (or at least full) arrangements and tightly-crafted songs decorated by the occasional tangent.

But, of course, eclecticism rules. Wallace never fails to surprise, and I’ve always liked the inventive nature of his music. He has a fascinating approach to melody (rarely straightforward), and he sometimes uses rhythm as an idea separate from the rest of the song. That’s even cooler than you might think.

Once I’ve reviewed an artist a few times, I often get a little bored. Even the best can settle into a rhythm and coast a bit. While Wallace might have coasted on the cover (sorry, I just had to say it), he still goes at his music full bore. Still amazing after all these years. -Jon Worley, Apr 2010 - Aiding & Abetting


"Den of Maniacs" - Dan Wallace Solo LP, 2010

"Reattachment" - Dan Wallace Solo LP, 2008

"Culture of Self" - Dan Wallace Solo LP, 2007

"Neon and Gold" - Dan Wallace Solo LP, 2006

"The Pindrops" - LP Released by The Pindrops (Fronted by Dan Wallace), 2004

"The Poppies" - EP Released by The Poppies (Fronted by Dan Wallace), 2004 (out of print)

"Thringle" - EP Released by Izis (Fronted by Dan Wallace), 2003 (out of print)

"Verbum Sap" - Dan Wallace Solo LP, 2002 (out of print)



Dan Wallace is a Chicago-based composer and performer who has been establishing himself as one of the more inventive voices in indie rock since the release of his 2006 album “Neon and Gold,” of which Mark Suppanz of The Big Takeover Magazine said, “It’s hard not to fall for this intoxicating and expertly-crafted LP.” He has since released three more albums to critical acclaim, the most recent of which is “Den of Maniacs.”

Dan has performed in many of Chicago’s most exciting venues, including the Abbey Pub, Empty Bottle, Schubas, Neo Futurarium (entrance act for “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”), Martyrs’, Congress Theater, HotHouse, and Green Mill.

Dan’s current live set features drummer George Lawler (Mucca Pazza, Lamajamal) and a rotating cast of guest players.

A sampling of past accomplishments include scoring music for theatre and film (as well as having two songs included in the 2009 documentary “American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art”), serving as co-Director of the Chicago Chamber Music Collective (who also premiered his first chamber works in Chicago), and organizing critically acclaimed concert series of contemporary classical music. He is also a CAAP Grant recipient.

Dan Wallace was born in Philadelphia and moved around every few years to places as diverse as a small village in Germany and a trailer park in Mississippi. He made his way to Chicago in 1993, where he has lived ever since.

He began playing guitar at age 14, when he learned to play the chords to “Raising Hell” by Run-DMC. Less than a year later he was playing along with Frank Zappa, Randy Rhoads, and Charlie Parker records. It also wasn’t long before he was inspired by the likes of J.S. Bach, Conlon Nancarrow, and Dmitri Shostakovich to begin composing chamber works, which would be his focus until he discovered Caetano Veloso in his mid-20's and began writing songs.