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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dead Man’s Bones: Monster Music

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

You thought I was kidding about this, didn't you?

Those who have just seen Ryan Gosling in the Notebook have terribly underestimated how dark the talented actor really is.

In Stay, his character plots his suicide. In The United States of Leland, he plays a troubled youth who kills his girlfriends brother. In The Believer, he plays a Jewish man who is a member of the KKK and in Murder by Numbers, he plays a bored high school student who kills a random person, just to see if he could get away with it. (None of these are spoilers by the way.)

Unfortunately, the Nick Cassavetes chick flick is what the criminally underrated actor is best known for despite being nominated for an Academy Award for best actor playing a drug addicted inner city middle school school teacher in Half Nelson.

Despite going AWOL from Hollywood (his last film was Lars and the Real Girl in 2007 and he foolishly dropped out of the upcoming Peter Jackson film, The Lovely Bones, and was replaced by Mark Wahlberg) Gosling and his friend Zack Shields formed Dead Man’s Bones, a strange yet interesting 50s influenced doo-wop band, inspired by ghosts and zombies.

It has been reported that neither Gosling nor Shields knew how to play any instruments before creating the band.

Normally, anytime an actor tries to crossover into the music industry, it’s a recipe for disaster. See: Eddie Murphy.

In this case, it’s refreshing.

This isn’t an act. Gosling and Shields are dead serious about Dead Man’s Bones.

What’s even better is, Gosling isn’t using his image and popularity to promote his band. In fact, the band has been pretty low key as it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, which in this day and age is unheard of.

While the album doesn’t have a name on the actual CD cover, it's reads Monster Music on my CD player in my car. It was originally titled, Never Let a Lack of Talent Get You Down, which appears on the rear of the CD cover.

The album first two songs are forgettable as the introduction is a short intro with a spoken voice and the second track, “Dead Hearts,” is so long and quiet, it’s hard to make out anything Gosling is singing.

However the album picks up significantly with the next four tracks “In the Room Where You Sleep,” “Buried in Water,” “My Body’s a Zombie for You,” and “Pa Pa Power.”

The seventh track is “Young and Tragic,” which is completely sung by the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir, who are the highlight of the album as they appear on almost every song.

The album finishes strong with “Paper Ships,” “Lose Your Soul,” “Werewolf Heart,” and “Dead Man’s Bones.”

The album’s last song should have been left off, as Gosling just talks, rather than sings, over “Flowers Grow Out of My Grave.”

Besides “Young and Tragic,” Shields lends his vocals on “Pa Pa Power,” which is the only thing that comes close to something that sounds like a song released within the past 40 years.

Almost all the songs are done on piano, organ, acoustic guitar and drums and Gosling’s vocals are deep, extremely soft and rather haunting. This music literally does sound like it should have came out in the 1950s.

The lyrics are consistent as most songs pertain to zombies, graves, love and death.

It's darker than any Notebook fan could imagine and I, for one, am intrigued by it.


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