Detroit band uses music to tackle serious, silly issues

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Joshua Epstein, left, and Daniel Zott, right, make up indie pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., performing tonight at Stubb’s. (Photo courtesy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is fairly unique in that it has managed to create a dreamy pop, alternative sound, vaguely reminiscent of something that’s very west coast, despite it’s Detroit origin.

It is perhaps because of its experience with America’s ailing economy that it named its most recent album It’s a Corporate World. Although the band claims not to be taking a particular advocacy with the title, it does harbor opinions on the current state of the economy and corporatism.

“I don’t know if it’s our job to make political commentary,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. drummer Joshua Epstein.

“Sometimes, it’s really nice to be in the middle of nowhere and see that you can get coffee and Internet at Starbucks, and sometimes, it’s really shitty because you know that the American dream is harder to attain than it used to be. Like when you’re in Iceland and you see a KFC, it’s both comforting and shitty at the same time.”

The whole corporate world motif gets funny though: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Daniel Zott, is in the freecreditreport.com band from commercials. Jokes aside, they are no slouches when it comes to talking politics. They are particularly interested in the work of Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

“We don’t know if capitalism is a bad thing,” Zott said. “We just want to start the conversation.”

The duality of their sentiment towards capitalism reflects the overall duality Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. possess. They carry a sort of goofy, childlike front, combined with a sort of serious poise and demeanor.

“[Lamberts, the venue we’re playing at], is supposed to have great macaroni and cheese,” Zott said.

While the duo that make up Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are fairly interesting, their music has certain compelling qualities as well. They sound like something that has been in indie-rock before, but it’s hard to put a finger on where exactly. It might lie in sample-driven instrumentals with folk guitars, placed atop fluid and noticeably reverbed vocals. Their conjoining of sounds can be likened to that of Foster The People if they sampled Flying Lotus beats instead of having a drummer. The heavy backbeat isn’t commonplace, either. With that, they’ve managed to achieve uniqueness within a sort of familiarity.

Their ambitions are even more unique.

“We’d like to play at some high school’s prom and then DJ afterwards,” said Zott, with Epstein behind him, nodding in concurrence. “We just really like DJing.”

Even if Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. doesn’t blow up, they still have a place in music thanks to “Corporate America” and those Free Credit Report commercials. The commercials serve as a revenue stream in the absence of mainstream notoriety. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is acutely aware of this fact.

“Everything is being sold now, and everything is for sale.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Simple Girl (Tiger & Woods Remix) by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.