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Movie-Making Musicians: Ryan Gosling and Dead Man’s Bones (2009)

Ryan Gosling

Photo by Elen Nivrae from Paris, France (Ryan Gosling) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a fan of Ryan Gosling’s darker films then you might also enjoy the musical album he recorded in 2009 with fellow multi-instrumentalist Zach Shields. Dead Man’s Bones is a dark, dreamy, minimalistic indie-rock album. It conjures a lot of the feelings you’ll get from movies like Drive, A Place Beyond the Pines, and the movie Gosling wrote and directed, Lost River.

It’s like a southern-gothic soundscape playing in a dim and lonely auditorium, crumbling and flooded. With droning vocals pouring dissociative melodies over heartbeat rhythms, pianos and guitars echoing from the distant darkness, and other instruments filling out the halloweenish space, this surprisingly rich and fully-conceived album really draws you into its supernaturally melancholy mood.

If you haven’t seen Gosling’s best roles, this album might surprise you, since there’s a lot of dark creative nuance here and it’s a weirder album than you might expect from someone who could be described as a ‘Hollywood pretty-boy.’ But remember, he made two beautifully violent movies with Nicolas Winding Refn, a director known both for his vivid brutality, gorgeous cinematography, and complex emotion.

I originally only listened to this album so I could write this review and I didn’t expect much from it. But it turned out to be a really good album which has grown on me a lot. It’s catchy, weird, and dark, full of little surprises and fun melodies. The style is not for everybody, but if you like Chelsea Wolfe, Father John Misty, or if Lullabies to Paralyze is your favourite Queens of the Stone Age album, then you should listen to Dead Man’s Bones. And if you’re not familiar with Gosling’s acting roles, do yourself a favour and check out one of the films mentioned above.

About the Author

Matt Payne is a self-published author and electronic musician. He lives in Guelph, ON. You can see his work at

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