Because the Detroit duo composed of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott – better known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (no, that’s not a typo) – are clad in brightly colored NASCAR racing suits and strapped-in to cardboard race cars, its music would presumably be loud, fast, and silly. But to the delight of music tastemakers, its easy-breezy, tropical textures and uncluttered instrumentation make Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. psychedelic indie pop (not a la Pink Floyd) that is perfect to sip a fabulous umbrella-ed drink.
While its Horse Power EP released last year on Quite Scientific Records is only a touch more than 13 minutes in length, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s demonstrates its versatility while maintaining a beach-y cohesiveness. Its song, “Vocal Chords,” commences with spooky all-boys-choir harmonies that bleed into beach-retro rock with a steel pan sounding-guitar below a breathy falsetto and suntanned brass riff. Its inaugural track, “Nothing But Our Love,” is a chill and minimal, fuzzed-out jam that has that je nais cest quai of indie pop. Yet “Simple Girl” is akin to the overall vibe of side one of The Beatles’s White Album without being too much of a facsimile. However, it ends the EP with a cover of The Beach Boys’s “God Only Knows.” It was a ballsy – very ballsy – move by the these Detroitians to remake such an iconic song. Though it is capable of pulling it off, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. disappointingly misses the mark. Its version is far too similar to the original. Bummer.
But like in “Vocal Chords,” lead singer-songwriter Epstein croons: “Life is too short to play it safe.” And Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. does just that.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will release its debut LP It’s A Corporate World on June 7th.