Outside of NASCAR not many people are known for being garishly decorated with ads plastered all over their clothes, but then again JR JR are not your typical indie pop musical group. The duo, Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein, have released their music for years under the name Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, a nod towards the famous NASCAR driver; however, they have shortened their name and released a new self-titled album. JR JR is set for release on September 25th, 2015.
Up until this point, the group has released two EPs and two full-lengths, which have reached fans all over the board including the actual Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has given them permission for the name. The group named themselves first as a joke, but then decided on it as a way to interest people that would otherwise have no idea what to expect from such a group.
Overtime, the group hasn’t strayed too far from their origins as an indie-pop duo, but instead have merely perfected their sound and solidified expectations time and time again. Their latest release, JR JR, is no different – the sounds throughout are often slow, but danceable. Oddly enough, most of the tracks seem to be most suitable for enjoying on headphones rather than in a dance club.
The first track, “As Time Goes,” is a very poppy, almost shimmering synth-based number that flourishes under the melodies of JR JR. Yet, one can’t help to notice the blatantly obvious assurance to fans of the band that are upset with the name change, “Oh I want to stay the same.”
And they do. This is clearly the same group and they’re good at what they do. However, they are nothing more than an indie-pop group, any change would be perceived as radical. They are in an odd, unyielding space where they have the potential to fall down dramatically but not rise much higher than the present.
Most songs on the album can be construed as dance tracks, but there’s occasionally songs that are anthemic in presentation and leave a lasting impression. “Caroline,” is a standout track that appears to be about a girl, a hospital, and the virtues of being independent: “No one’s gonna live my life for me / Oh, my Caroline / I don’t wanna be you.”
More than that, “Caroline” moves with consistently interesting percussive beats and ambient noises that litter the background in such a way that each chorus and verse sounds familiar except for the fact that there are different sounds. Songs like these are what make JR JR worth paying attention to; they run the gamut of indie synth-pop in such a way that sticks with the listener.
JR JR is a visual band, you can see it in the way they dress during shows as well as in their music videos. The first single released that is also a music video is “Gone,” one of the more interesting tracks on the album. “Gone” is one of those anthemic songs on the album, with a chorus that shines brighter than many of the other tracks, with lines like “I can’t be everything you want me to be.” The video, however, showcases a variety of characters in different situations in which hope does not seem to be much of a reality. And yet, the legs of each person leaves the top of the body to search for better, more danceable horizons.
This is all a good summation of who JR JR is – a duo that plays its music in a positive fashion to make people feel better about a bad situation, but also sympathize enough lyrically so there is an emotional attachment. Not a bad way to be – check out JR JR’s new album.