June 2010; Rooney Records
By Emily J Ramey
The first time I heard of Rooney, my college roommate was dragging me to a concert in Manhattan in 2006. They were still touring on their debut album, and their live show blew me away. There’s just something about that California rock that captures and ignites universally. It’s possible that with Rooney the magnetism has something to do with gorgeous indie frontman Robert Schwartzman, but it also may have something to do with their tight retro guitars and powerfully catchy tunes.
I wouldn’t call Rooney revolutionary, but they’ve always been glowing and strong. Their self-titled debut was all the best of solid 90s style Cali-punk with cult favorites like “Blue Side,” “I’m Shakin’,” and “Sorry Sorry.” 2008’s Calling the World was totally 80s with its sunny harmonies and robust synth work. Highlights included “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?,” “I Should’ve Been After You,” “Don’t Come Around Again,” and “Paralyzed,” channeling greats like ELO, Queen, and Toto.
On Eureka, Rooney continues to time travel, attributing their first independently produced album to the chunky rhythms and summery melodies of 70s AM rock. The band’s characteristic flashy guitars, funky keys, and resonant drums are all present on their most recent work, but the songwriting is more sophisticated, the album as a whole a bit more subdued.
The single “I Can’t Get Enough” is bright and choppy with breezy lyrics:“I tell you yes; you tell me no./I ask you why; you never let me know/You close your eyes; I hold you tight/But it’s no surprise, I got no where to go.” The melancholy piano chords and raw vocals present a subtler effort on “Into the Blue.” “All or Nothing” is a perfect bridge from Rooney’s past albums to Eureka. The track’s throbbing drums, blazing keys, and sharp lines (“I’m a’changing every day, changing every single way/I can’t stop this train I’m on when it’s still in motion/I don’t want to fail you now, but it’s a’coming somehow.”) are all reminiscent of “If It Were Up To Me” and “Believe in Me” while remaining congruent with the new tunes.
“The Hunch” is a refreshing and lively song made memorable by drummer Ned Brower on lead vocals. And “Not in My House” is raging and dirty with its groovy blues bass and seething lyrics: “I know what you’re after/I know why you came her/You got the devil in you seeping out your pores.”
I’ve been a big fan of Rooney since their live show heated up that cool November Friday for me. Although Eureka feels a little different than their previous albums, I think we can definitely label it as “progress,” and turn it up louder.