Robert Schwartzman Article

Robert Schwartzman

“The Music Man”

By Emily J Ramey

Written for BMI: MusicWorld

Robert Schwartzman is a man refreshingly fanatical about the art of making music. Despite, or perhaps as a result of, having seen rapid success with his California retro rock band Rooney, the 28-year-old singer/songwriter is absolutely bursting with new ideas, projects, and overall zeal for the industry, which is more than evident in the way he talks about his songwriting process: “I get excited by chords; I get excited by melody; I get excited by lyrics… something has to spark excitement, and you just run with it. It’s a domino effect either way, but the process is specific to whatever’s occurring in that moment.”

“Learning by ear inspired me to start writing music, taking feelings and stories from my life and turning them into a song,” he explains of his early penchant for songwriting. “It was the thrill of having something in my hands that didn’t exist before.”

As for influences, Robert cites “oldies but goodies” as his inspiration, then and now. “You know late fifties, early sixties, cruising with your friends with the top down and milkshakes,” he says. “I’ve always thought – and still do – that that music is really simple and so… right; the innocence of that music has always inspired me.”

These threads are discernible in Rooney’s distinctive flashy guitars, chunky rhythms, and summery melodies, but Schwartzman, ever the opportunist, is on the verge of expanding his repertoire with a solo venture as well. “The band has been a big part of my life and it’s important to me, but there’s still a need to be able to take chances and try other things. I played all the instruments, they’re all my songs; on every level, it’s my record.”

Schwartzman’s debut will be released this fall, with plans for a tour following closely behind. After all, the live show is what it’s all about, Robert claims. “I like the feeling of playing music to people. Playing a live show sort of helped me understand how people are affected by music. When you perform something, you feel it in a different way; you feel like you’re putting it all on the line.”

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Rooney’s “Eureka” Review

Album Cover

Rooney

“Eureka”

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.

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