Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
MGMT, Ben Kweller, Brian Wilson
Intricate harmonies and melodies, allusions to hip hop beats, rockin’ guitar riffs, vocals that mix classic rock with indie pop, whistles, xylophone, and dah dah dahs. You get all these things and more with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (yes, they took the racing legend’s name and added another “Jr.” to it – some think that’s kind of lame, but I’m on the “woohoo that’s so clever” side of the debate). Unassuming yet skillfully constructed lyrics take precedence in the twosome’s music, with lines such as: “she’s a simple girl, governed by simple pleasures/she won’t let you meet her family but she’ll show you pictures.”
(Purportedly) actual Nascar fans from Motor City (they’ve written a song called “We Almost Lost Detroit”), these dudes- Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott, are probably those awesome vinyl entusiasts (read: geeks) that collectively search record stores for that rare early hip hop album while touring the country. The duo (a threesome for live shows) doesn’t really sound like your classic Motown acts (Ted Nugent or Smokey Robinson) – they sound more like they should have come from warm California sun…a few words that get mentioned a lot in connection to DEJJ: ethereal, tender, atmospheric.
DEJJ almost seem like your run of the mill indie dudes (one even has the always-cute bespectacled thing going on), until you factor in this detail: the duo dons pretty authentic race car driver costumes, complete with ads for household products, and post-victory (or post-crash) hats in lieu of helmets. A patriotic American flag is draped from the pair’s keyboard during live sets. Both play guitars, accompanied by pre-recorded percussion and backing tracks. If there is any doubt that these two are actually nascar fans, having a pretty faithful version of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” in their arsenal of covers should dispel the doubt. The band also does a superb Beach Boys cover, starts off as a stripped down version but builds interesting harmonies worthy of BB homage.
Both members play in other projects, and Zott is in the new (and oddly alluring) “free”creditreport.com band the Victorious Secret. If that don’t get you tons of groupies, I don’t know what will…
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has one EP out, called, appropriately enough, Horse Power.