Celebrity rock musicians are usually nothing to cheer about (think Corey Feldman). Like celebrity politicians, they're frequently high on money and entitlement, low on authenticity and character.
That's not the case with Ryan Gosling's goth-folk group, Dead Man's Bones. Gosling formed the project four years ago with his best friend, Zach Shields. Their self-titled debut is one of the sleeper albums of 2009.
At first glance, these dozen tracks appear to be an ongoing conversation between the living and the dead. But the lines distinguishing those voices are blurred. There's a feeling of singularity, a sense of dialogue with self, a suggestion that natural and supernatural voices emanate from the same being (witness the verse/chorus call and response on "Lose Your Soul").
The music is lo-fi multi-instrument indie rock that puts aside electric guitar for piano, synth, horns, percussion and a children's choir that masters the voice of innocence. The effect is often cinematic.
The clincher is "Pa Pa Power," a catchy, all-around awesome and spine-tingling single that deftly blends musical parts.
It's clear that Gosling and Shields respect music and approach their project with humility. They succeed by not overstepping their talent. They're not in it to be rock stars, which might be their ticket to being rock stars.