Dead Man’s Bones – S/T
Ryan Gosling, an actor who appeared in several films, including Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, and The Notebook, brings us his incredibly talented musical project Dead Man’s Bones with much success. Most of the time when an actor tries his hand at music, the results are disastrous, but not with Mr. Gosling.
Along with his partner-in-crime Zach Shields, Gosling has forged a rather unique concept album that sounds like a mess when you describe the pieces involved, yet works like magic when it all comes together. For example, they didn’t know how to actually play most of the instruments they used, but that didn’t stop them. Add stories of the supernatural and the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir and you have something that sounds like it must be a joke. Put it all together, and you get a mix between Arcade Fire, an elementary school musical, the sound of a 70’s horror soundtrack, and a 50’s audio aesthetic.
I guess he’s the exception to the rule, the one that succeeded where so, so, so many failed (Russell Crowe, Keanu, Scarlett Johansson). Good job, Lars.
For fans of: The Addam’s Family theme, Arcade Fire, Cocorosie
Highlights: “In the Room Where You Sleep”, “Buried in Water”, “My Body’s a Zombie for You”
Best to listen to when: You’re alone in a cemetery at night.
Avoid at all costs if: You’re in love with his Notebook character, because this might make you fall out of love. Actually I’m sure it will.
Now it is known: One rule they used to keep the sound as raw and real as possible was to abandon anything that took more than three takes to get right.
Coconut Records – Nighttiming
Ok, I might have been lying in that last review. There is actually another exception to the rule (Well, 3 if you count Zooey Deschanel and her work as She & Him with M. Ward), and his name is Jason Schwartzman. He starred in such indie gems as Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, and Spun.
Under the moniker Coconut Records, he produces albums quite similar to his movies: quirky and spritely little indie gems. With his single “West Coast”, Schwartzman reaches the true potential of his sound by spinning an affecting (and at times sarcastic) story of losing someone and surrounding it with an upbeat, bouncy rhythm. All in all, it’s a fun album with subtle moments to let the various themes of love and loss sink in.
So Jason Schwartzman is definitely as much of a success story talent-wise as Ryan Gosling, but musically they are polar opposites, which makes these two albums perfect to listen to back-to-back on a road trip.
For fans of: Bishop Allen, Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie
Highlights: “This Old Machine”, “West Coast”, “Easy Girl”
Best to listen to when: You’re driving down a California highway while staring at the beach to your left (Which is actually kind of dangerous, so don’t do that. Keep your eyes on the road).
Avoid at all costs: If you don’t need heavy distorted guitars or auto-tune, then there’s no reason you should avoid this.
Now it is known: Schwartzman composed the theme song to his HBO show “Bored to Death” under the Coconut Records moniker.
Coconut Records is an indie pop solo project from Los Angeles, California featuring actor Jason Schwartzman. Formed in 2006, his debut album, Nighttiming, was released on Young Baby Records in 2007. The album had musical contributions from members of Incubus, as well as guest appearances by actress Zooey Deschanel from the band She & Him, and actress Kirsten Dunst. Coconut Records sophomore release, Davy, was released in January 2009 and like Nighttiming featured musical contributions from Zooey Deschanel.