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After 17 years as a drummer, Akron native Daniel Rylander was inspired to pick up the guitar, piano and ukulele after a tragic event changed the trajectory of his life in 2012. His older brother David was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Rylander co-wrote a song to perform at his late sibling’s funeral. 

Rylander’s family traveled to Hawaii shortly after his brother’s funeral, and it was there that Rylander bought his first ukulele and learned the instrument in a two-week period. He had previously written songs for his high school band, Trademark Mistake, and begun to mature as a songwriter. In 2013, he had enough material to release his first full-length album, Strawberry Skyline.

Rylander, now 26, returns this year with a new collection of songs initially inspired by the changing seasons, shifting weather patterns and variations in daylight. The five-track release, How The Seasons Change Us, took two years to write and record. Rylander explains that each song was written at a different point in that span of time, with some reworked prior to the recording of the album to polish the final result.

“Writing the songs became like therapeutic for me because I was dealing with a lot of personal things,” Rylander says. “One thing I learned from my brother’s death is nobody is promised tomorrow. The title comes from how the seasons changed me.”

The EP’s beginning track, “The Alibi of Springtime,” sets the tone for the five-song collection. The piano-driven number was written four or five years ago but was reworked in 2017 to reflect Rylander’s changing perspective. The track is reminiscent of Ben Folds, who the songwriter cites as a big influence on his writing and performance styles.

“The Alibi of Springtime” will lead into an as-of-yet unreleased song on a full-length album Rylander hopes to debut in 2020. The current EP, which also contains the tracks “Right Now,” “Move,” “Understanding” and “White Elephant,” was released in August 2018 as a way to give audiences a taste of the larger project Rylander has in the works.

“The industry has changed so much, and how we listen to music has changed,” Rylander says. “The single is the new EP, and the EP is the new full-length album. I’m using this EP as the ‘breadcrumbs’ that lead the listener to the upcoming full-length, inviting them to come along with me.”

“White Elephant” was written in one day, Rylander explains, and was initially released as a single in 2016. It first emerged as a joke song inspired by an ugly candy dish Rylander received at a white elephant party. He explains he wrote the song in 24 hours, and through the writing process it began to develop more meaning and gradually evolved into a more heartfelt tune.

“Move” came together in a little more than week, whereas other songs he’s written have been in the works over the course eight or nine years.

“I like to connect ideas,” Rylander says. “I’ll write a melody, let it be for a couple days, or write a theme and record it on my iPhone and let it sit, then return to it.”

Rylander recorded How The Seasons Change Us at Creekside Audio in Norton and worked closely with producer Wes McCraw, who the musician says he has a close rapport with. McCraw is able to understand what Rylander is trying to communicate through his songs, and the result is a collaborative effort — something Rylander says he hopes to do more of with local musicians in the future. His upcoming full-length record will involve talent sourced from the community.

“Northeast Ohio is probably one of the best spots for music right now. There’s so much to choose from, style-wise,” Rylander says. “There’s really no wrong way to do it — music — these days. You have more independence and can be more personal. You can be the artist you want to be.”

" Daniel Rylander has made a career for himself by fighting through adversity and turmoil. The singer/songwriter lost his brother to battle in Afghanistan in 2012 and has been inspired to find the [strength to] keep pushing [forward], and make his brother proud. His new single "Understanding" was released in January and is an uplifting tune about 'not letting our mistakes define who we are as people'.

The song was revamped from the version that lives on The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance EP released in 2015. Daniel and his band (The Best Dressed) are looking to make themselves more marketable in 2017. "

 ' “Rylander touches on a wide variety of genres from indie rock to country and blues. It’s hard not to find at least one song that you like. Plus his voice is amazing. It’s fresh, young, and a bit soulful.” – Bronlynn Thurman, Tea Time with the Mad Artist

 “It was on May 2, 2012 that Daniel received news that his older brother, 2nd Lt. David E. Rylander, had been killed in action in Afghanistan. He had been writing and playing music for a long time before this; having been a drummer for eighteen years, teaching himself piano and guitar for the past eight, and more recently the ukulele, music has always been a big part of his life. However, the endeavor to pursue his musical passions more seriously really began when he co-wrote a song with his Uncle, Tom Siebert, in order to remember and honor his older brother’s sacrifice.” – Daniel Rylander Facebook Page

Leave a comment letting us know what you think – and who you’d like to see featured on #MusicMonday! ' 


" MEET THE BAND: Daniel Rylander (vocals, guitar), Brian Fackelman (bass), Nathan Allison (drums)

A SELF-TAUGHT MUSICIAN: A drummer for 17 years, local singer-songwriter Daniel Rylander taught himself to play piano and guitar. He can also handle a ukulele. Back in 2012, he co-wrote "A Friend & Brother (Be Thou at Peace)" with his uncle for his brother's funeral. "We performed that song and people enjoyed it, and I recorded it and then made a record," he says. He's been writing songs ever since. In 2013, he issued his full-length debut, Strawberry Skyline, and he followed it in 2015 with The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance. "It's nice to have such a big catalog at this point," he says.

STARTED AS A JOKE: Late last year, Rylander issued "White Elephant," a tune inspired by a white elephant party. "It started out as a gag or joke," he says. "I got this candy dish at the party. It was god-awful. I was the first to pick, so nobody would take it from me. A friend of mine told me to write something silly about it. 'White Elephant' started as a silly song but ended up having more meaning. It was just one of those songs that came to me in the course of 24 hours as opposed to a couple of years."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: Songs such as the somber "For a Moment" have an emo feel to them — think Death Cab for Cutie. His latest single, "Understanding," originally appeared on The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance. Rylander decided to turn it into "a much more amped-up rocking tune. We're using it as a model for the sound we're going for in the new year," he says. "It's a song that means more to me now that I've tweaked it in the studio. It started to take the shape of something more, about not letting bad things define who we are. It's a really important song to me and it's important given all the changes happening in the world right now. It's ultimately about how I want to treat others as I would like to be treated."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Daniel & the Best Dressed, Allen Cruz & the Galaxy, Reddy Freddy? and Of Heart & Mind perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, at the Empire Concert Club in Akron. "

“ Saturday, October 17th, I headed over to Musica for Daniel Rylander’s sophomore album release, The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance. Now, I hadn’t heard him play in quite some time, so this was my first taste of any of his new music. He played a mixture of songs from both albums throughout the night. This new, seven-track album has quite a few songs that use the ukulele. It’s a story of heartbreak and love. I think my favorite track would have to be “Hurts Like Hell.” “

" A drummer for seventeen years, local singer-songwriter Daniel Rylander then taught himself to play piano and guitar. He can also handle a ukulele. Back in 2012, Rylander wrote "A Friend & Brother (Be Thou at Peace)" for his brother’s funeral. He’s been writing songs ever since. Last year, he issued his full-length debut, Strawberry Skyline, and tonight he celebrates the release of his latest endeavor, The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance. Songs such as the somber “For a Moment You Were Mine” have an emo feel to them — think Death Cab for Cutie. Rylander’s got a great voice, something that comes across well in pretty indie pop tunes such as “Hurts Like Hell” and “Lullaby for the Sunshine.” (Niesel) "

" Oct. 17 will be a banner day for singer/songwriter Daniel Rylander of Cuyahoga Falls.

On that day, Rylander will officially unveil his new album, "The Memoirs of a Poolside Romance," at a music release party at Musica in Akron. The concert will start at 9:30 p.m. This is the second album for Rylander, who grew up in Stow.

Rylander, who also is known for his acting work at local theaters such as Weathervane and Ohio Shakespeare Festival, said he got his start in music at a young age.

'I started playing the drums when I was about 6," he said. "I played in a band, Trademark Mistake, for pretty much all of high school. It was around that time that I taught myself piano and guitar and began to explore my writing style in different ways. When the band broke up, I continued to hone my writing skills and write songs, but wasn't really doing anything with it until these past couple of years. I just recently started playing the ukulele as well, which has been an extremely fun avenue to stroll down for the last three years.'

A family tragedy is the impetus for Rylander to look at performing on a more full-time level.

'I would say I got serious about pursuing a musical career when my older brother was killed in Afghanistan in 2012," he said. "I co-wrote a song with my uncle that we performed at the funeral and it was very well-received. After some encouragement, I went into Creekside Audio in Norton and met with owner/producer, Wes McCraw to record the song, and eventually the rest of the [first] record, Strawberry Skyline, became the product of it. It was my older brother's death that made me really realize that no one is promised tomorrow, and we all need to make the most of who we are today; in the here and now. So I'm chasing this dream of music to the fullest while I can.'

One day, Rylander said he would like to make music a full-time career. Right now, his "big boy job" is working for Market Track in Solon, he said.

'The nice thing about the company is you can kind of make your own hours, so I try to get their early, leave early, and spend the rest of my day either sitting in front of my computer handling the more 'business-side' of the music, rehearsing with my band, or playing gigs," he said. "It allows for a little more financial security to off-set the musical expenses, but juggling the two full-time jobs doesn't allow for very much sleep, ha ha. Like I said, the goal is to make music the sole, full-time gig.'

Rylander said his new album takes "a more poppy approach" than his debut work.

'Like I said before, learning how to play the ukulele has been so awesome and I wanted to make a stripped-down, ukulele-focused EP," he said. "So that's what I did. Every song on the record, with the exception of one or two of them, is fashioned around the ukulele as the primary instrument. Ukulele has become increasingly popular and I wanted to try my hand at creating something that kind of played into that popularity, but still maintain my own originality. I'm really pleased with how this record turned out and I think I accomplished my goal.'

'Two of the songs on this record are originally off of my debut record, Strawberry Skyline. I stripped them down, changed the arrangement and 'uke-ified' them, so to speak. That was an extremely fun process for me. Another one of the tracks off this new record is a similarly stripped down version of a song on my next full-length album. Overall, I really enjoyed the process on this record. Finishing a few songs that I began to write years ago and approaching them in a fresh, new light was good for me. Being in the studio and kind of finding the 'broader sound' to really bring these songs to life was rewarding, and helped to kind of refresh my own identity of who I am as a musician. It gets really easy to fall into a pattern and I found myself in a creative drought. These songs, this record, really helped me take a large step away from that.' "

"Last, but not least, was Daniel Rylander. I’ve featured Daniel on the blog several times and he’s always a joy to hear. He has an album under his belt and is currently working on an EP. I look forward to hearing what he comes up with [in the future]."

"Daniel Rylander was the third to hit the stage and his set was great as usual. You may remember him from my previous post. This is the third time I’ve heard him and his band play and they have yet to disappoint. He’s a local artist who released his debut album, Strawberry Skyline, last September and it is amazing. He really does have a beautiful voice with great stage presence and he’s a pretty cool guy. I mean anyone that can play a ukulele has to be really cool, right? He also played my favorite song from his album called ‘Paper Veins.’ It’s such a beautiful song and it sounds just as good live although it’s missing the piano. Out of all the artists who played that night, he’s my favorite hands down. Check him out. If you don’t, then you’re doing yourself a horrible disservice."

"My favorite act of the night came next. Daniel Rylander is a singer/songwriter from Akron, Ohio who released his debut album last September and it is nice. I’ve listened to it at least 5 times since Friday night. I even had it playing while I was at work and every person that came into the room commented on how good it was.

Rylander touches on a wide variety of genres from indie rock to country and blues. It’s hard not to find at least one song that you like. Plus his voice is amazing. It’s fresh, young, and a bit soulful. I’ll probably do a review of his album later this week. But while you’re waiting on that, you can listen/buy it at

He has a great stage presence. I immediately picked him out from the group as the lead singer. Most times they are always the ones that have a little bit “more” than the rest. I’m not sure of what that “more” is but they have it and makes them stand out from the rest of their band.

I’m almost positive that a vast majority of the people there were for him because I noticed that the crowd thinned after his set. If that doesn’t tell you how popular someone is in an area then I don’t know what will."

Musicians are inspired to create by many things — be it teenage angst, heartbreak, righteous indignation, the natural beauty of creation or good old-fashioned ambition.

Akron singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Daniel Rylander’s inspiration for writing and recording his debut full-length album, Strawberry Skyline, was born from loss. Rylander’s brother, Army 2nd Lt. David E. Rylander, 23, was killed by an improvised explosive device in May 2012 while serving in Afghanistan.

Rylander co-wrote a song with his uncle Tom Seibert, A Friend & Brother (Be Thou at Peace), that he performed at his brother’s funeral. The loss of his brother and the positive effect his song had on his fellow mourners inspired the 20-year-old to recordStrawberry Skyline. Rylander enlisted co-producer/mixer/engineer Wes McCraw at the latter’s Creekside Audio in Norton to give the album a clean, unfussy sound and breathing room to the tunes’ base instrumentation of guitar, bass drums and piano.

Rylander, a drummer by trade who taught himself piano, guitar and a few other instruments, packs the album’s 13 tracks with his high emotionally charged tenor to keening melodies that recall other singer/songwriters such as Ben Folds and ’90s emo-kings Dashboard Confessional.

Love seems to be the overriding theme of the 63-minute work, be it abusive, forlorn, lost, brand new or all consuming. Rylander’s got a lot to say about relationships both interpersonal and familial.

The Plot to Block the Sun is a punky piano and guitar driven toe-tapper and potential single that leads deftly into Hoping You Wouldn’t Let Go So Soon — a lament of bad love lost with a pleasant folksy jangle that belies the desperation in the lyrics: “Now I see, how you got the best of me, I'll never love again,” Rylander wails.

On the near eight-minute Paper Veins, Rylander beseeches an apparently ambivalent lover, “I've been lonely before but never quite as much as when I think of you, wherever you are, think of me, too.”

A Friend & Brother (Be Thou at Peace), featuring backing vocals by co-writer Seibert and singer Allison Good, is available as a single on iTunes. It is the emotional centerpiece of Strawberry Skyline. Rylander pours his heart out with no lyrical subterfuge, just the kind of plainspoken emotion that elevates a song about a specific loss into a universal lament that applies to anyone who has lost someone close to them.

“We ask ourselves why in the prime of your life the end came so quickly to leave us denied of the comfort and closure that hangs on the tongue of goodbye.”

On The Dichotomy of a Church-Go’er, Rylander sings plaintively of a former lover in an abusive relationship accompanied only by a gently pulsing piano. But Rylander hasn’t just been burned by love. He sings hopefully of beginning a new love and life over a country shuffle on Just You & Me.

Rylander is yet another Northeast Ohio talent trying to carve out his own space and sound in an area rich with talented folks. Some of his heart-on-his-sleeve love lamentations may seem a bit “young” to some older, more experienced listeners who have “been there, done that, divorced that, started over” a few times. But Rylander’s musical talent, his way with a sing-songy melody and the cool instrumental touches that beef up his arrangements should garner him some attention and fans.

Strawberry Skyline is available at iTunes, and

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online,, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

"...Army 2nd Lt. David Rylander died a year ago today of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated under his vehicle in Logar province. He was 23.

The loss prompted Daniel Rylander to follow his heart and compile a CD in his brother’s memory.

'I felt very passionate and very strong that I had to do something,' Daniel said in a recent interview. 'When life blows up in your face, now is the time.'

Daniel, 20, said his brother’s death inspired him to jump into his passion, music, in a big way. David also was very interested in music and sang in the choir at West Point and played bells at the U.S. Military Academy.

After David was killed, Daniel decided not to go back to school but rather sought to record a CD...

He has been recording Strawberry Skyline for several months with the assistance of Wes McCraw at McCraw’s Creekside Audio studio in Norton and hopes to complete it in a few months.

The cut he sang at his brother’s funeral, A Friend and A Brother, Be Thou at Peace, will be put up for sale on iTunes on today’s anniversary of David’s death...

'This has been a dream of mine forever. Nobody is promised tomorrow,' Daniel Rylander said. 'I am going to chase my dreams now ... Losing my brother has taught me that family is everything'...”