Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Save Detroit?
By Wesley Jakacki
June 24, 2012
When one thinks of Detroit, the word "sunny" usually doesn’t come to mind. The city was essentially the headquarters for the recession, known for its crime and deterioration, and is also home to the lowly, downtrodden Lions. The space-pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. chooses to bring out a different part of their city, however, with sunny folk-pop tunes that trap themselves in your head. Their sound is little like the coarser hard rock, hip-hop and techno that the city is known for. These irresistible pop tunes showcase the city as sunny side up.
For the video for their outstanding cover of spoken-word legend Gil Scott Herron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit”, the Detroit duo—consisting of Josh Epstein and Daniel Zotti—chose to highlight those parts of the city that are alive and booming. “People kind of consider Detroit a burned-out, bummed-out place, but the Detroit that we hang out in is the Detroit that we showed in the video. It’s thriving creative businesses, talented chefs, and interesting people doing interesting things,” Josh Epstein said. “I think that was the intentional message of the video was ‘this is what is actually going on’ and I’m glad that people have been responding well to it.”
The folk pop duo is known perhaps most famous for their cover of the Beach Boys' “God Only Knows”, which the duo started playing before they even knew they were a band. The band released an entire EP for record store day of covers (We Almost Lost DetroitEP) and is even prone to bust out a Whitney Houston cover every now and then.
“Everything is ok. We are playing music. It should be fun. We are encouraging people. We are celebrating with people. That’s all positive stuff.”
Daniel feels their opposite attitudes do cancel out nicely. “We blend really well. It’s good to be skeptical sometimes and sometimes Josh just needs me to be a little cheery others.”
Zotti continued, “Everything is OK. We are playing music. It should be fun. We are encouraging people. We are celebrating with people. That’s all positive stuff.” While the band has a positive outlook, the two have found themselves pretty against organized religion. Daniel, raised a Catholic, found himself “generally let down by the church” and Joshua who was raised Jewish, has since moved away from the faith. The two do hold belief in God, but more as someone who is moving the little things in life; “In the details”, so to speak, as Epstein describes on “The Fisherman."
The two have concocted a spacy folk pop sound that isn’t too far off the likes of MGMT and the Flaming Lips, but the band finds a larger focus on strong, repeated melodies and electronically growing the song over its length than their more economic counterparts. Though they're only one strong full length, It’s a Corporate World, and a couple EPs in, the duo has shown huge promise. Don't be surprised if we're whistling their songs several years into the future.