DOG DAYS (ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Originally released in 2008, this newly (2019) remastered and expanded digital version of my debut album features six songs remixed using the original 2005-2007 multitrack recording sessions, all of the B-sides from the accompanying singles, and four live performances.
Even though this album took me three years to make back then, it came out somehow both over-and-under "baked." In revisiting the material for this reissue, I often found myself going back to earlier less-mannered vocal takes, less compressed guitar sounds, and even entirely different drummers. Nothing used in the new "Anniversary" mixes was recorded after the album's 2008 release--except the studio drum session with Brian Yost from May of that year. I'm so very glad to have his work incorporated into the album now, as it always should have been.
Going back to these songs, my favorite things about them come from the contributions of my collaborators--chief among them my brother Brian Ullman, whose guitar wizardry is matched only by his golden-eared mixing and infinite patience with the countless revisions I requested over the last few years preparing this. My friend Sean Kammer's keyboard piano parts are beautifully understated and soulful. James "J-Ro" Robinson's slow-burn psychedelic symphony makes the 11-minute album closer "End" stand out as one of the favorite recordings I've ever been a part of. Logan Ramsier's intuitive percussion on tracks like "Coming To" and "Unspoken" (the latter of which I remember him practically playing in his sleep!) are exactly what I wanted for those songs--both then and now. The album art was designed by my dear friend Matt Jackson in July of 2005; and for this commemorative edition, I reverted back to his original layout for the cover. My deepest thanks go out to all of my friends for lending their time and talents to this project.
Deluxe download bundles are still forthcoming; but for now, listen via your choice of streaming service above.
Original 2008 Album Notes
Dog Days, the much-anticipated first full-length album from Northeast Ohio singer/songwriter David Ullman, finally reached an eager audience in February 2008. Most often cited for his poignant use of vocal dynamics and intimate portraits of love lost and (occasionally) found, Ullman delivered a debut that Free Times music editor Jeff Niesel calls “exquisitely beautiful” and Cool Cleveland’s Peter Chakerian describes as “deep, dark and intensely rich.”
The 29-year-old Clevelander’s initial creative outlet was filmmaking, though pre-adolescent re-makes of biopics like La Bamba and The Buddy Holly Story sparked his interest in music as well. “I started playing guitar at age eight by learning Buddy Holly songs—most of which are the same four chords,” he recalls. “Buddy Holly for me was what punk rock seems to have been for a lot of other musicians. You don’t have to be Eric Clapton to play along with The Ramones. That’s the way it was with me and Buddy Holly’s music. My dad taught me to play his songs, and I used to make tapes in my bathroom—overdubbing my voice like I’d seen in the movies. I also drew covers for the tapes based on other album sleeves that I’d seen, and gave them to my family for birthday gifts and such.”
In his early twenties, Ullman and a handful of friends formed a short-lived folk-rock quintet called “Steve.” Songs such as “Start Anew” and “Unspoken,” both of which appear on Dog Days, were written during this time, and Ullman’s long-time friend, collaborator, and former Steve member Matthew Jackson designed the disc’s cover. Other carryovers from the group include Steve bassist Nick Robinson, who features on the final (unlisted) track of Dog Days, key contributors Sean Kammer (piano) and Logan Ramsier (drums), as well as the engineering expertise of (brother) Brian Ullman, who also plays lead and bass guitar on the record.
Ullman’s insistence upon the inclusion of these valued individuals turned the making of Dog Days into a three-year-process—during which time he refined the songs on stage, performing over 90 shows in 2007. “Why would I hastily make a plain ol’ voice-and-guitar record when my brother is a terrific producer and electric guitar player? It wouldn’t make any sense,” he explains. “My friends and I may not be the best musicians ever; but for me, we were the right musicians to realize this material. In my mind, it had to be these people. Even down to the name of the label that I established to release the CD—Dreaming Out Loud Records. For ten years now, Dreaming Out Loud ventures have involved these people. It’s about making dreams reality, and I was committed to waiting for these people and what they could contribute to these songs.”
Not only do the tracks on Dog Days invite listeners into Ullman’s life and relationships, but also into the homes of his family and friends through intimate recording sessions that took place in bedrooms, bathrooms, and basements. Or perhaps, we as listeners invite him into our living rooms and lives—to play his guitar on our couches and hang out in our kitchens.
Hearing Ullman’s music feels less like listening to a recording or attending a concert and more like sitting down with an old friend on a Friday night to rehash the rough day at work or the latest lovers’ quarrel. His honest and confessional style brings him a special kind of rapport with his audience. He gives voice to those universal fears that most of us prefer not to examine—fears that our relationships may not be the safe haven we once believed them to be.
Still, the music of Dog Days goes beyond the traditional break-up record. A hopeful message persists and shines through the adversity, and there’s a struggle to maintain and repair the relationship that hangs in the balance. Ullman’s shift from smooth and gentle—at times pleading—lyrics, to the explosive and emotionally charged heights that characterize both his songwriting and live performances draw us into the conversation, assuring us all that we have friends with whom to share our everyday struggles, ambitions and disappointments.
Currently maintaining a consistent concert schedule in and around Northeastern Ohio, Ullman is eager to travel to new cities. In the months ahead, look for him to branch out into new territories in support of his debut album and its forthcoming second single, a radio remix of “Secondhand,” which will be released along side several outtakes from Dog Days.
-T.M.Göttl, Summer 2008
1. Begin (Anniversary Mix)
2. Secondhand (Anniversary Mix)
3. Half-light (Anniversary Mix)
4. Start Anew (Remastered)
5. Déjà Vu (Remastered)
6. If You can (Anniversary Mix)
7. Coming To (Remastered)
8. Let Go (Remastered)
9. Unspoken (Anniversary Mix)
10. In Dreams (Remastered)
11. You and I (Remastered)
12. End (Remastered)
13. Snakebit (Remastered)
14. Mulletman (Remastered)
15. Safe (O.C. Mix)
16. Who Cares
17. Secondhand (New Acoustic Mix)
18. Safe (Acoustic)
19 If You Can (Live at The Elbo Room, Chicago, IL - August 2010)
20. Snakebit If You Can (Live at The Elbo Room, Chicago, IL - August 2010)
21. Mulletman (Live at The Beachland, Cleveland, OH - October 2009)
22. Déjà Vu (Live at The Beachland, Cleveland, OH - October 2009)
All songs written by David Ullman (vocals & acoustic guitar)
Bass & Electric Guitars by Brian Ullman
Drums by Logan Ramsier (7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14), Brian Yost (2, 3, 16), Josh Miller (1, 15)
Keyboard Piano by Sean Kammer
"Vibes" & Electric guitars on "End" by "The Ro"
Lead Acoustic Guitar on "Unspoken" by Brian Ullman
Djembe drums on both versions of "Secondhand" by Logan Ramsier
This album was recorded and mixed in bedrooms, bathrooms and basements from Jan. 2005 to Nov. 2007 in Rittman, Kent, Columbus and Lakewood, Ohio--with the exception of the drums for "Secondhand" and "Half-light," which were recorded in Akron at Central 8 Studio, May 2008.
"Anniversary Mixes" and pre-mastering by Brian Ullman, Killa B Studios 2018-2019
Live songs from The Elbo Room recorded by Brad Woods
Live songs from The Beachland recorded by Mark Rodriguez
All songs mastered with LANDR--except "Start Anew" & "Déjà Vu" by Adam Boose, Cauliflower Audio Mastering