Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe and David Hasselhoff might have given the whole actors-turned-musicians concept a bad name, but recently, there’s been a clutch of stars who have made the transition appear effortless—from Community comedian Donald Glover/rapper Childish Gambino to She & Him’s kooky New Girl Zoeey Deschanel, to Drake, whose big break in Degrassi: The Next Generation has been all but forgotten about since he turned into one of R&B’s biggest miserablists.
Rumored to be a love interest of the latter, Zoe Kravitz (X-Men: First Class, Californication, After Earth) can also now be listed in that elite category following the release of her band Lolawolf’s debut EP.
Named after her half-siblings Lola and Nokoa-Wolf Mamoa, the 25-year-old pieced together the group last year as a form of therapy after a role as an anorexic in indie drama The Road Within left her an emotional and physical wreck. But far from recruiting a bunch of novices, Kravitz looked to three musicians who had already experienced the limelight themselves.
Guitarist James Levy had released two albums with his eponymous outfit in the mid-00s and received critical acclaim for Pray To Be Free, a collaborative LP recorded with Allison Pierce and produced by Coldplay’s Guy Berryman. Bassist Jimmy Giannopoulos toured the US with Travis and Albert Hammond Jr as part of New York troubadour Luke Rathborne’s backing band, while drummer Raviv Ullman found fame as the lead in Disney Channel vehicle Phil of the Future.
All three members had also released a Simple Minds/Dire Straits-esque EP under the guise of Reputante. And it’s this love of the 80s, rather than the 70s influences of Kravitz’s father Lenny, that appears to have shaped Lolawolf’s nostalgic sound.
“Chainz” is a gloriously upbeat blend of gleaming synths and toe-tapping beats which could have been lifted from the credits of a classic John Hughes rom-com, “Drive (Los Angeles)” mines a similarly sleek and stylish retro electro sound as Canadian husband-and-wife duo New Look, while there are definite shades of early Madonna on the cutesy new wave of “What Love Is” and the tropical-tinged “Too Lovely.”