Released: October 2, 2009
By: Jeff Han
Ryan Gosling, the actor known for his Oscar-nominated lead in the Broken Social Scene soundtracked indie film, Half-Nelson, and the popular movie, The Notebook (that was responsible for establishing 99.9% of his largely female fanbase of fourteen year olds and middle aged ladies), has hit the music scene with Dead Man's Bones, formed with friend Zach Shields. Meeting each other through Gosling's girlfriend of the time, Rachael McAdams, they found they both had a shared childhood experience based on an extreme fear of ghosts and paranormal activity. Never fully recovering from their supernatural fears, the duo decided to use their fixation on the dead to start a band and craft a monster musical. Like Russel Crowe, the vanity projects by Scarlett Johansson, and whatever crappy band Billy Bob Thornton is in; the music releases of notable Hollywood Actors are generally marked with an air of delusion, ingenuity, pretension, and a noticeable lack in quality. This doesn't seem to be the case here, though, as the band (maintaining a largely low profile) has decided to forfeit slick production sounds in favor of a lo-fi quality that gives the record a homely, intimate feel. Releasing a record focused on zombies and ghosts right before Halloween is a clearly calculated move, but the holiday never bleeds into the music beyond general thematic ideas of what Halloween is about (spooky stuff). Thus, what could have been a gimmick of Monster Mash style music never comes close as a reality and darker tracks like "Buried and Water" and "Lose Your Soul" would probably scare the crap out of Count Chocula. The children's choir, really used in full, works to great benefit for the group. Having a bunch of kids sing "my body's a zombie for you" and other dark, suggestive lyrics might seem a little weird at first, but in a post-MacKenzie Phillips world-it's not really that shocking. The only weak track, "Pa Pa Power," is a fine song but it doesn't really fit in lyrically or musically with the rest of the album. In all, Dead Man's Bones is a great album that demonstrates a real knack for song writing and performance that is sure to rock out the vans of middle aged ladies (fully decked out with the "coexist" sticker) and the iPods of their trendy fourteen year old daughters long after Halloween has passed.