No matter how many times he sadly sits down to eat a cupcake alone on a park bench — and you endlessly insert that same picture into images filled with cats or a reproduction of Lunch Atop A Skyscraper or whatever—Keanu Reeves will forever be known as the man who started Dogstar and, in turn, ruined it for all other actors to start bands without public outcry and critical mockery.
Lucky for us, there’s a new crop of fresh-faced thespians that might actually be able to shake the Dogstar curse and, dare we say, become both successful actors/actresses and musicians. So take a look—and a listen—at the following artists that are sure to be embraced by moviegoers and concertgoers alike.
Band: Dead Man’s Bones
Album: Dead Man’s Bones (Anti-, 2009)
Sounds like: Indie goth rock inspired by monsters and zombies. Adding to his long list of talents, Gosling is a pretty good piano player and even better singer. Much in the vein of acts like Murder By Death and Arcade Fire, Dead Man Bones’ relies heavily on musical and lyrical dramatics, which are highlighted by ambient orchestral movements and semi-creepy children’s choirs. Amelia — the band’s biggest fan, natch — had hoped that Dead Man’s Bones would record another record during Ryan’s acting hiatus, but so far, no dice.
Listen to: “In The Room Where You Sleep”
Band: The Shoe
Album: I’m Okay (Community Music, 2014)
Sounds like: Sparse, shoe-gazing indie rock. Malone’s voice is subtle but sweet, kind of like a less angry Fiona Apple set against twee-tinged melodies. The “Catching Fire” actress first started singing publicly in 2008 under the name Jenna Malone And Her Bloodstains, but it appears that group dissolved and reformed when Malone built her own multi-faceted instrument, called… wait for it… “The Shoe.”
Listen to: “Paper Cup”
Band: Bad Things
Album: Bad Things (Warner Bros. Records, 2014)
Sounds like: Catchy alt rock with sing-along choruses and impressive guitar parts, courtesy of the Olympic snowboarder. More accessible than anything else, Bad Things could totally open for similar radio-friendly rock acts like Imagine Dragons and American Authors.
Listen to: “Caught Inside”
Band: Childish Gambino
Album: Because The Internet (Glassnote, 2013)
Sounds like: Highly intelligent hip-hop featuring suave samples and Will Shortz-approved wordplay. This might be the same guy who wrote “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” for “30 Rock,” but there’s nothing funny about the way Glover spits rhymes that rival any rapper in the game right now.
Listen to: “3005”
Band: Night Terrors of 1927
Album: Guilty Pleas EP (Atlantic, 2013)
Sounds like: Poppy alt-rock layered with synth undertones and clap-along choruses. Former Honorary Title frontman Jarrod Gorbel provides vocals for this two-man band while Sennett (Rilo Kiley, The Elected, and a former child actor who was in “Once and Again” in 2000) plays the part as producer and music maestro.
Listen to: “Dust And Bones”
Band: Coconut Records
Album: Davy (Young Baby Records, 2009)
Sounds like: Sunny California-inspired pop made for picnics, bonfires and drives up the coast in a convertible Mini Cooper. Some thought Schwartzman had left music forever when he left Phantom Planet, but the mustachioed drummer resurfaced a few years with this sweet side project, which also features guest vocals from fellow thespians like Kirsten Dunst (“This Old Machine”) and Zooey Deschanel (“Slowly.”) Speaking of Zooey…
Listen to: “West Coast”
Band: She & Him
Album: Volume Three (Merge Records, 2013)
Sounds like: Retro-leaning indie rock that’s so timeless, it fits in perfectly with today’s Stereogum-loving landscape and the Wall Of Sound era of the 1960s. Much like a modern Ronnie Spector, Deschanel’s voice is equally signature, especially when coupled with M. Ward’s distinct and dynamic instrumentation.
Listen to: “I’ve Got Your Number, Son”
Band: The Girls
Sounds like: Honestly, we’re still waiting for confirmation. Back in 2012, Brie—along with fellow band members (and actresses) Julianna Guill and Cyrina Fiallo—played a gig in NYC and covered songs like Hall And Oats’ “Rich Girl” and Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” However, original tunes have yet to surface. Hope is not lost, though, because the group (semi-) recently appeared at SF Sketchfest back in January and Brie told The Bay Bridged The Girls hope to release an EP soon. Fingers crossed!
Listen to: “My Name Is Jonas”
Album: Pagoda (Ecstatic Peace, 2007)
Sounds like: Dissonant and desolate experimental alt-rock that’s less about melody and more about making pieces of audible art. What started as a sort of musical project after starring in Gus Van Sant’s Kurt Cobain-inspired movie, “Last Days,” turned into a real band when they were signed by Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore to his Ecstatic Peace label. Not only does Pitt resemble Cobain, physically, but the vocal similarities are eerie, especially on “Death To Birth.”
Listen to: “Death To Birth”