Tag: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The multi-spectrummed Detroit wonder boys known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. announced today that their new EP, Patterns, will be released April 16th, and have debuted the first single off of it – “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor.) Can I first say that I’m really enjoying this new wave of bands announcing the release of their new record only a couple weeks before it comes out? It’s so much better than a band saying they’re going to release their new record on a specific date in 5 months – like you would really need that kind of preparatory hype and you’ll be marking off the days on your calender until the thing drops. Anyway, I placed DEJJ’s debut record, It’s a Corporate World, as my album of the year in 2011. I thought it was a fairly genius conglomeration of neo-folk music interspersed with modern digital sound and head-nodding dance grooves. So my first instinct upon hearing this new track is that it falls far deeper into the land of dance-pop than they ever came close to gravitating to before. Sure it starts with a solid minute of odd faux-acoustic build up, but if I had heard the core of it on the radio, I would have presumed it was another one of these brand new bands who are trying to sound like old MGMT. There’s no doubt that it’s catchy, but it seems to be reaching out to a less critical demographic than those that their initial intricacies took hold of before. I suppose there is a touch of irony to the song, and I suppose that everybody needs a song that the 17 year-old girls in day-glo headbands want to dance to, but it doesn’t really reach the high bar of expectations I had for their sophomore record. Hopefully this single is merely a tool to draw new fans into hearing their music, and the rest of the EP will branch off more stylistically than this, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see. Til then, give it a spin…
I’ve gone through an extended love affair with this band, and I don’t see it ending any time soon. Bringing melody and songwriting back into conjunction with something you want to bounce to, It’s a Corporate World is a refreshing taste of how the original pop-rock paradigm can cohabitate with modern sound. In this interview with half of the two-man team, I find Josh Epstein beaming with a stead-fast pride for his hometown of Detroit, an honest love for covering 80′s Winwood hits, and a conjunctive knack for crafting great songs. Read the full thing HERE.
I mean, yeah, there’s definitely that pressure from other people where “we need you to write songs that people like” just as much or more. But I think when you live like that, you’re writing from a fearful place. And I just don’t think that ever works for people. I think the sophomore slump comes from people’s heads. Daniel and I have to keep on thinking about that — this isn’t our second record. For both of us it’s like… number eleven. [Laughs] It’s not like we’ve never had to follow up an album before. Maybe not as many people listened to our other albums, but we’ve always tried to make one better than the last one.
50-41 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=122
40-31 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=124
30–21 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=125
20-11 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=126
10) M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
- 22 tracks at an hour and a half long is a lot to process, and subsequently it took me 3 or 4 listens to even get to the second half of this album. Touches of Flaming Lips, touches of MGMT, touches of droney shoegaze, touches of epic beats, touches of Duran Duran – this album has already cemented itself in landmark status for the new millennium. If “Midnight City” doesn’t grab you right off the bat, then this probably isn’t your thing – but if it intrigues you at all, then dig in deep because this album can reshape your expectations for good music these days.
9) ATLAS SOUND – Parallax
- Bradford Cox has entered into a weird self-inspiring world from his steady releases with Deerhunter and solo as Atlas Sound. As a result, this album is a lot more song-oriented than I expected from a release as this moniker, but that’s a great thing. The driftouts are still prevalent in tracks like “Te Amo” and “Quark Parts 1 and 2,” but interspersed melody-based tunes bring a more expansive cohesion to Parallax than any of Cox’s prior releases, and hint that he has still yet to make his true masterpiece. Either way, he is the current ruler of the psychedelic, ambient, melody-based universe I frequently like to dwell within.
8. WASHED OUT – Within and Without
- Just when it seemed like the chill-wave dream-pop scene was ending before it reached its’ adolescence, Ernest Greene stepped up and made it clear he wants to grow old with this sound. I definitely play this album a lot more as resonant ambient music than as a direct listening focus, and yes it does make you want to have a projector screen in your house just showing waves moving in slow motion. There is a modest hugeness to this music that also makes me want to replace all the furniture in my home with oversized bean-bag chairs.
7) THURSTON MOORE – Demolished Thoughts
- Fuck, I really hope Sonic Youth isn’t dead, but Demolished Thoughts seems to at least state that Thurston knew his separation from Kim Gordon was forthcoming. Acoustic, dark, and beautiful – this album should be next to the word bittersweet in the dictionary. I honestly can’t imagine my life without having the first track “Benediction” in it – sometimes it makes me tear up, sometimes it stops me from tearing up, and all the time it makes me think what an amazing blessing Thurston Moore is to those open to his reality. I truly love this record.
6) CAGE THE ELEPHANT – Thank You, Happy Birthday
- I am so not afraid to say how killer I think this band is. With a thick mid-90’s-ish rock sound and an astonishing melodic-pop sensibility, the comparisons to Nirvana and Arctic Monkies are justified, but leave little credit to this band’s own voice. Jared Champion is a murderous backbone beast of a drummer, and the band’s syncopated rock riffs over top along with Matthew Shultz’s crushing vocals and lyrics make them one of the most powerful bands out there today. This whole record is classic with no less than 5 or 6 amazing songs on there
5) DUCKTAILS – Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
- The pseudonym for the solo work of Real Estate’s Matthew Mondanile, Arcade Dynamics is familiar in the same way that a forgotten dream is. His idea of crafting fake nostalgia came to complete fruition on this album – it’s California drift-folk recorded in Northeast basements and it’s just exactly right. It’s raw and analog in the most perfect way, and with just enough reverb on the vocals to not sound like a completely pretentious asshole. It sounds like the soundtrack to old reel-to-reel footage of a 50’s family reunion where you see your grandparents smoking reefer.
4) RADIOHEAD – The King of Limbs/ TKOL Live From the Basement
- I’ve said if before, but I’m really sorry if you still don’t ‘get’ this band. I have to include the live set here as well, since it is fucking unbelievable, has double drummers, and includes the newer tracks “The Daily Mail” and “Staircase” which are both amazing. With each new album this band re-writes the notions of rhythm in rock music, and restructures how the human soul can physically connect with sound. Get some good headphones, and don’t be afraid of where these songs, this music, and this band can take you.
3) STEPHEN MALKMUS & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
- I don’t think there will ever be another album made with his old band, but subsequently, and perhaps charged from the 2010 reunion tour, this album sounds more like a Pavement album than any of his 4 other solo releases. The only thing that makes it even better, is that some of these tunes could only come from the independent operation of Malkmus, and that he’s reached a level of melodic and lyrical understanding that he never could have grown into with the other band. The rockers here, like the opener “Tigers,” are brilliantly focused, and the slower, more delicate songs are simply astonishing – “No One Is” and “Share the Red” are epic warm-blanket wrappers. As my dear friend Ben Yurco said, “This is maybe the warmest album ever made.”
2) YUCK – Yuck
- The only band that sounded more like the most ideal echo of the 90’s than Malkmus this year was these lovely young cats from London. Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, slow Smashing Pumpkins – they all get touched upon here, but really this band just seems like one of their sonic peers you somehow missed out on 15 years ago. The rockers touch on the more melodic side of Dinosaur Jr., and the slow shoegazers just touch on your reverb-pedal-loving heart-strings. “Suck” and “Rubber” are HUGE. I never stopped listening to this album this year, and it holds just as big a place in my heart as some of its’ forefathering records. As my dear friend Wade Wilby said, “I wish I had this album when I broke up with my high-school girlfriend in 1996.”
1) DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. – It’s a Corporate World
- This became one of my all time go-to albums this year. My iTunes claims I’ve listened to it 62 times since it came out. Two incredibly radical fellas from Detroit write amazing songs, and mix them with killer beats and transcendent drift. Melodically, there’s a pop-sense to it, but there’s more of a rock edge in the exploratory nature they let into the songs. Suppose you time-traveled back 50 years, and you meet someone who’s afraid that all music will suck in the 21st century. So you want to play them an album that’s warm and approachable, but still futuristic enough that it’s like nothing they’ll hear for decades. This is it.
I had a great conversation with Josh Epstein of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. the other day. I’m finishing up my best-of-the-year list right now, and I think I’m putting their album at #1. There was a lot of great music put out this year, but I have a feeling like this album will be in my rotation for much longer than some of this year’s other favorites. This is what all modern pop-rock should be if you ask me, and min you, this is not to be confused with rock-pop. Pop rock is poppy rock, and rock pop is rocking pop, right. So DEJJ is poppy rock. It’s a fresh incarnation of the staples of what rock music is based upon, and there is a simple pop sense to the melodies. But it digs deep and uses that simplicity as a springboard into the deeper layers of emotional stacking they apply. All in all, the band is killer. Here’s some highlights of the interview, and the link to the full one at StateOfMind. It’s a Corporate World - get into it already.
Josh: I think it’s no accident. They say that luck is the point where hard work meets opportunity, I think that’s true. We’re just happy that… you know, someone asked me one time, “Are you mad that people like this project more than your other one?” And to me it doesn’t really matter what people like as long as they like something. And I stand by that.
[Laughs] I don’t know. He just had this period in the 80s where he churned out the number one hits. “Higher Love” is such a good song when you sit down, break it down and try to learn it. It’s really a complicated song. It’s really good. You could say he was at his peak there…
2011 has proven to be a seminal year for the music I love. New albums from Malkmus, Thurston, Wilco - the intrinisic expansion of dream-pop, and two brand new bands that I will be listening to for quite some time. One is Yuck, and I promise to go into more detail with them in the next few days, but the other is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Now admittedly, it took me 3 separate mentionings to even give this band a shot. The name is obviously odd – and at first, my thought was that not much thought when into it. The other major hangup I had was that people were throwing around clueless terms with these guys – electronic pop, blah blah blah synthesizers – but it just seems that folks are afraid to call something with a digital drum-beat rock and roll. And regardless of the fact that they play with a live drummer and their live performances speak for themselves, this music is rock, and pop, and folk, and highly song-oriented, and light years away from any DJ laptop scenario that they’re for some reason getting lumped in with. And the name…well frankly, now I think it’s genius. Because both lyrically and musically, DEJJ are using touchstone triggers of our national, collective, pop-mindframe, and restructuring them into something beautiful and new. This is the next generation of the next generation – the Jr. to the Jr. that already flipped the game. Below is a snip of my album review, as well as another killer clip of them at this year’s ACL, as well as an ACL interview that really makes you fall in love with them – especially when they express their disdain for folks who put on boring shows that have no focus on the live possibilities.
Check out my full review of their incredible album, It’s a Corporate World, here: http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1328/Dale-Earnhardt-Jr.-Jr.—It’s-A-Corporate-World/
Ok, let’s jump right back into this shit. So I’m still in the process of a formal review, but I have to mention how I keep turning back again and again to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. album, It’s a Corporate World. First thing you need to do it to get past the name – I guess legally it’s OK, kinda like how Dinosaur Jr. got their name, and word is the guys actually sent the real Dale Jr. some songs and a letter saying they weren’t making fun of hm – of which he totally approved and dug the songs as well. And somehow when you dig deep into the album, the name makes sense. It’s kinda like taking a twisted take of a modern pop acceptance, and adding to it and altering it thusly into an ironic embrace of the power and strength of a name with notoriety. The album isn’t exactly pop-radio-friendly, but it’s composed of things that by themselves would be. Follow me? It doesn’t matter.
The band is composed of Joshua Epstein, and Daniel Zott – two younger fellas from Detroit who made the album last year in Zott’s basement, and within 6 months found themselves selling out 1,000 person venues. The vibe is an organic, and harmonious stab at traditionally solid, good, songwriting and adding to it a funky backbeat and some weird electronic instruments. It’s very reminiscent of the last Dirty Projectors album from a couple years back, and anyone who loved Bitte Orca should immediately make themselves familiar with these guys. Younger ears will associate it more with the slower side of MGMT, but there’s really a much different game-plan here. Much more touching on a timeless organic rock vibe, then an of-the-moment weirdness embrace. The lyrics are a touch of self-degradation, that most often expresses an acceptance of their personal normality. In other words, really good words about how they don’t think they have anything to say. Honestly though, the best music comes from two friends who are open enough to only want to play the songs that they both like and make each other happy. Even if this first album is the best thing they ever do, the rest of their sub-par career will still be worth getting into. But my instincts tell me these guys are somehow only going to get cooler and better.
Here’s a clip of them closing out their set at this year’s Austin City Limits. First off, the bow-ties are fucking awesome, and a universal tangent to the latest Dr. Who (get into it!) Secondly, they not only play their tunes tightly live, but they mess around with him, keep them interesting, and fun for themselves. Third, thank God they were smart enough to bring in a drummer, and not just rely on a beat machine. It rounds out their sound so easily, and it would have been a shame to have gone any rawer. And with a solid beat, they can play a whole song with no guitar and make it still sound huge, like a full band. Here they are aboslutely crushing “Nothing But Our Love” – stay til the end, when they really start raging.
So on the way back from a friggin’ horrid gig in Saratoga last night, I came across the modern dilemma of what music on my iPod could both satisfy the needed subversive expansion for my currently half-withered soul and likewise entertain the 60 year-old Deadhead riding shotgun. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. album proved to be too much of a discussive workout, despite my need to listen to it daily (more to come on that soon). So I turned to the modern standard: Radiohead. I had just uploaded the new King of Limbs – From the Basement Sessions and I thought it would be perfect. You know, a good old rhythmic assault is fun for everyone, and he’d have to dig it since it’s live and thus a step-up automatically in any old Deadhead’s book. The response I got was at first obnoxious, and I contemplated just caving and putting on The Allman Brothers, but then it became so absurdly hilarious I had to continue. Here’s some highlights that both frustrated and amused me.
“So, there’s just some sort of loop machine going right?”
“This guy’s supposed to be so good at guitar, but there isn’t even any guitar on this song!”
“It sounds a lot like U2 – you know, drones with Bono scatting on top. Skee-bop, whiiiiiir, the suuuun, how’s that song go?”
“By listening to this, you know who would sound perfect to collaborate with Radiohead….Mickey Hart”
“Laaaaaah, laaaaaaah, (whistle of high harmony) laaaaah”
“I saw em on TV once, and the guitarists were on the ground twisting knobs all over the place – it was wild!”
“What, Radiohead released a new album this year? I can’t believe I didn’t know that.”
Bless you Mr. Charlie, your fragmented views of modern music are both refreshing and ignorant all at the same time. You are a treasure my friend. Look for “Part 2: All the Different Shit He Thinks My Morning Jacket’s Circuital sounds like”