Tag Archives: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

One-Line Enlightenment

Are you in the market for some fact-acting self-knowledge and/or spiritual fulfillment? Might I suggest one line each from these three newish songs?

JR JR — “Same Dark Places”

One-Line Enlightenment: “I know everybody goes to the same dark places”

It’s easy to feel alone and isolated when you’re suffering in some way, but there’s a really good chance that people — maybe even people you know — have gone through or are currently going through something similar. “Same Dark Places,” which was accompanied by a touching message about the song’s origins, does a wonderful job of shining a bright, compassionate light on those shadowy emotional spaces.

Future Islands — “Through The Roses”

One-Line Enlightenment: “It’s not easy just being human”

Speaking of compassion, when you approach interpersonal communication with a basic level of empathy — “This person I’m talking to has the same basic wants and needs as me and could be dealing with difficulties that aren’t immediately apparent, etc.” — it’s amazing how much easier it is to defuse charged situations and find positive outcomes. This line from the new Future Islands album reminds me of this in such a simple and powerful way. The video above ain’t great, but the message comes through loud and clear.

Eric Slick — “You Are Not Your Mind”

One-Line Enlightenment: “You are not your mind”

I often fall into the trap of assuming there’s a way to think my way out of every situation. I also tend to prioritize my inner experience when I’m feeling less than good about what’s going on on the outside, whether that’s the clothes I’m wearing or my inability to force myself to exhibit extroversion when it counts. And while the mind can certainly act as a refuge, I love the idea that there’s some other self that’s even more basic — something that’s not so readily accessible or easily tinkered with. I’ve read that meditation was a big part of the inspiration behind Eric Slick’s new Palisades album, so I’m sure he has a more precise idea of what this lyric is getting at, but just hearing it gives me this tremendous sense of relief, like walking away from an elaborate array of spinning plates.

To bring things full circle, here’s a video of Eric Slick speaking very articulately about the need for open discussion of mental health.

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CD Monday

JR JR

Congrats to JR JR on the new name! I loved the NASCAR reference, and I’d be lying if I said their old name wasn’t part of why I started listening to them, but it’s definitely not why I’ve kept listening to them. The Speed of Things was an excellent follow up to an excellent debut, and I know that spinning the copy I picked up at BK Music a while back is going to make my week markedly better.

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Top 1 Song of 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

I’ve never done a top-10 songs post, and I doubt I ever will. Too much like herding cats. I can’t imagine doing it without breaking down at the very last minute when I remember a song I left out and my carefully constructed scaffold of reasoning collapses under its own weight and shoddy construction.

Also it would take forever. No thx.

HOWEVER, I decided to do a Best 1 Song of the Year post this year, because there’s a song that made me want to do it. In fact, I knew somewhere around the second or third time I heard Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s “James Dean” that I’d be writing this. Around that time, I decided it was one of the best songs I’d heard in the last few years. 5, 10, who knows. I tend not to think in those terms — again, too many songs to wrangle — but something about “James Dean” made me.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Two people told me — in totally separate conversations — that yesterday felt like Thursday to them. The weird thing is that I felt the exact same way, and I felt it before either of those conversations happened.

My displacement probably has something to do with there being a highly anticipated college basketball game tonight, during which I’ll be ending a self-imposed and sickness-related alcohol prohibition. I’d guess that yesterday felt like Thursday to folks in Richmond because we’re supposed to get some relatively (emphasis on “relatively”) serious snow today. There’s the potential for work/school/life getting canceled tomorrow, so today gets to pretend to be Friday, which, given the weekday pecking order, is a solid upgrade for poor old Hump Day. (Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure Monday would still kill to be Wednesday, even if it had to endure being nicknamed something so undignified.)

I say we go with it. I’m declaring today an unofficial Friday, and I have the perfect musical accompaniment — Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s new mixtape.

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Top 10 Albums of 2013

Countdown gif

It’s customary to start year-end lists by chewing some fat about how making them is strange and difficult work, and in general, I find that these intros can be exceedingly skippable. Everyone knows that album rankings are subjective (even when they’re created on behalf of a publication or website), and no one needs to be reminded that the list maker didn’t listen — and couldn’t have listened, of course! — to every single thing that came out in the preceding 12 months. You don’t share Santa Claus’ knack for bending the space-time continuum. Understood. But before I get to my Top 10 albums, I would like to share a quick story about how I came up with my list, and how Beyoncé helped me find meaning in this whole strange and difficult exercise.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

(This is the second post-Record Store Day open letter. To read the first, An Open Letter To The People Who Lined Up Outside BK Music On Record Store Dayclick here.)

An Open Letter To The Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Album That Made Me Bleed On Record Store Day

Edgar Allen Poe once said that “There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm.” I really like that, don’t you?

It reminds me — ironically, I suppose — of the breathlessness with which children tell stories they’re particularly excited about. Respiration and recitation crash into one another like waves headed in different directions, making for a bumpy, sometimes incoherent narrative — certainly not eloquence in the traditional sense. But within that crazy cadence, natural rhythms are hiding. Lungs working at full capacity. Synapses firing as fast as possible. Pitch rising at the end of each phrase. When you look closer, you find the body and spirit in perfect harmony, flowing as smoothly as ballroom dancers who have rehearsed every move they intend to make.

It’s just that type of enthusiasm I blame for our… incident.

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Tournament Album Coverage, Vol. 2

Couch Cat 2

For those of you who missed Volume 1 of YHT’s Tournament Album Coverage, I spent last weekend glued to my couch, watching the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament in a most gloriously sloth-like fashion. I can think of no better occasion for acting like a shut-in and no better way to enhance the experience than muting the television and choosing your own soundtrack for each game. (There’s only so much of Jay Bilas’ voice I can take before I just start yelling at the TV screen like a crazy person.)

With a few exceptions, things took a decidedly more contemporary turn after Friday night’s Garfunkel-fest. Below, I’ve posted the art for everything my friends and I listened to on Saturday and Sunday, along with a sample song and a context-free quote from someone in the room about each record.

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Mercies

In My Room

Who you cover says a lot about you.

A pivotal moment in my Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr obsession occurred when I heard their electro-silken version of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” What struck me about the cover wasn’t the degree of difficulty (though it’s true that the original is a musical beast that’s said to have taken 23 musicians and 20 takes to bring down). Nor was it the considerable chutzpah it requires to reimagine one of the most revered songs of all time. What drew me in was the sense of adventure I gleaned from Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s recording. In context with their elaborate marketing persona and DIY showmanship, it felt like their cover of “God Only Knows” was channeling the creative spirit that The Beach Boys had in droves — a drive that helped them expand the general sandbox in which future pop musicians could play.

I was so excited when I heard Mercies’ cover of  The Beach Boys’ “In My Room,” because that same adventurous spirit comes through loud and clear.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Ladies and gentlemen of central Virginia, start your engines. Race weekend in Richmond is upon us, and it’s got me all nostalgic about how, almost exactly one year ago, I rang in the spring NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway with my very first post about Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. Imagine my joy, having found a group that combined my love of soulful electro-pop and brightly-colored sports merch, just a short time before their revered namesake was coming to town for my favorite weekend of the year (keeping in mind of course that the weekend of the fall race is also my favorite weekend of the year). NASCAR in Richmond is a tradition that’s grown near and dear to my heart over the past half-decade, just as Dale Jr Jr has done over the course of the last 12 months.

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YHT Top 10 Albums of 2011, Part 1

Aren’t top 10 music lists funny? They’re arbitrary, for one thing. Unless you’re quantitatively ranking performances (American Idol and X-Factor, I’m not going to call on you so please put your hands down), the order of your top 10 is usually based on gut feelings and random associations. Plus, they’re a dime a dozen — any yahoo, including this one, that listened to at least 10 albums in a calendar year can make one. Yet for some reason, people love to create them and debate them… and then debate them some more. And as annoying as it is to see people arguing about top 10 lists on the internet, therein lies their beauty. There may be no clearer testament to the fact that every human being experiences music differently, and that’s a good thing. Lists like these are a great way to discover bands that other people are crazy about that you might not even know existed. And someone’s conviction about an album you dismissed out of hand may finally convince you to give it a shot. I hope this list does one of those things for you, and if not, feel free join the ranks of these people and lash out about what’s ranked too high or how Bon Iver sucks.

10. Battles — Gloss DropGloss Drop

[Cue Most Interesting Man in the World music] I don’t always listen to math-rocky type stuff. But when I do… I listen to Battles. Their previous album Mirrored drew me in, even though proggy math rock isn’t really my thang, and Gloss Drop picked up right where its predecessor left off. Given that they lost a key band member in between that album and this one, I was impressed right away by how the group’s sense of intensity and adventure had endured, and had maybe even grown. “Ice Cream” became one of my favorite upbeat songs of the year, and I still can’t get enough of it. Listen below, read more about Battles here, here and here, and buy here.

Battles — “Ice Cream

9. Youth Lagoon — The Year of HibernationThe Year of Hibernation

Trevor Powers seemed to come out of nowhere, garnering lots of attention all at once thanks to a May Pitchfork article that linked to a few self-released songs, including the wonderfully haunting “July.” But his instant notoriety was no fluke, as his debut full-length The Year of Hibernation illustrates so convincingly. Powers is just 22, but his old-soul dexterity with themes of nostalgia and the fragility of youth is remarkable, and his album leaves you with the odd sensation that he’s older than he really is. Kind of like how it’s easy to forget that the basketball players you bet on each March in your office pool are really 18-year-olds who only recently learned how to drive. Now if only they’d learn how to hit their goddamn free throws. Listen to “July” below, read more here and here, and buy here.

Youth Lagoon — “July

8. tUnE-yArDs — w h o k i l lw h o k i l l

w h o k i l l is one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in a long time, absolutely bursting at the seams with creativity. Merrill Garbus is one of those rare artists who is capable of committing great leaps of the imagination to tape without drifting off into the obscure or unlistenable. Watching her loop-happy live performances online is a special treat, as her execution is flawless despite the fact that she employs so many off-kilter, rhythmically complex and densely layered elements. My favorite of these videos came in August, when she played “Gangsta” on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with members of the Roots. I’d give you a link, but none of the embedded videos are currently working because NBC is comprised of a-holes who don’t understand the internet. Listen to the studio version of “Gangsta” below, read more here, and buy here.

tUnE-yArDs –“Gangsta

7. Delicate Steve — Wondervisions

Delicate Steve was the source of equal parts laughter, enjoyment and regret during the course of 2011. Laughter because of Chuck Klosterman’s hilarious fake press release; enjoyment because his album Wondervisions is a twisting, turning and totally addictive monument to the endless possibilities of melody; and regret because I wish so badly I could have seen him perform on the tour he did with Ra Ra Riot, as my mother- and father-in-law did in Harrisburg, PA at Appalachian Brewing Company. Hearing my father-in-law talk about how much he enjoyed seeing Delicate Steve helped the bitterness pass though, as it filled me with excitement for whenever I finally make it to one of his shows. Listen to his song “Butterfly” below, read more here, and buy here.

Delicate Steve — “Butterfly

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — It’s A Corporate World It's A Corporate World

I wrote about Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr incessantly this past year (please don’t do a search for the band’s name in the search bar to the right, my obsession is slightly embarrassing), and much of that writing was about the Detroit duo’s clever marketing and knack for PR. But when you look past their masterfully constructed image, you find sturdy electro-pop tunes that exhibit real heart and soul, as well as a clear gift for arrangement and instrumentation. It’s A Corporate World is an excellent listen from its first notes to its last, and I felt extremely lucky to have seen the album come alive in September at the Southern in Charlottesville, VA (complete with black lights and matching Tigers jackets, of course). Listen to their song “Nothing But Our Love” below, read more here, here and here, and buy here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — “Nothing But Our Love

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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