Ear Plug: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
It's a scientific fact: if you proclaim you'll never be like, talk like or make a living like your parents, you’ll be cursed to follow in their cubicle-working, Dockers-wearing footsteps. Luckily for Joshua Epstein of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., his parents were tie-dye wearing Deadheads not Autotune loving Britney Spears fans.
"The first show I went to was a Grateful Dead show," Epstein told Relix magazine. "We used to sing four-part harmony to 'Uncle John's Band.' At a point, I resented it but then realized, 'Hey, this is pretty good.'"
After the Detroit-based musician got tired of flying solo in his basement recording studio—the family kept dumping dirty towels on his recording equipment—he hooked up with Daniel Zott under the notion of expanding his musical horizons (and clearing his nose of the smell of laundry detergent).
When four days of jamming together yielded five new songs, Zott and Epstein knew they had to get back to the basement and commit their stuff to digits. Clearing away the dirty underwear and mismatched socks, they gave birth to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Their first album, It's A Corporate World, was a released last year to the rousing applause of critics everywhere, many of whom claimed it one of their top picks of 2011. There's definitely some of Epstein's Grateful Dead heritage in duo's vocal tracks, but there's nothing old sounding about the dozen songs on the record.
Songs like “Morning Thought” bear this out: it opens with twinkly bells and throbbing synths and weirdly surreal vocals, sounding a bit like a marriage between Phosphorescence and Frank Zappa. “The Fisherman” recalls a bit of the Beatles, run through the permanent press cycle with a few sheets of Beck brand fabric softener. Sam Beam’s Iron & Wine gets the nod in the psychedelic ramblings of “Nothing But Our Love,” while the title track takes on a slightly punky point of view.
With plenty of plaudits under the belts of their neon racing suits—which they frequently wear to the stage for the mind-bending demonstrations of musical energy. What’s next for the duo from Royal Oaks, Michigan? Probably another album, explains Epstein, noting that one friend told him he likes DEJJ far “more than your other band.”
Take a look at the video for “Morning Thought," then go to www.daleearnhardtjrjr.com for a free MP3:
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