released June 8th, 2010

from the album - Holdin' On

from all music

Inspired by vintage pop music — particularly melody-minded bands like the Beach Boys, ELO, and Superdrag — Rooney held their earliest practices in a bandmember's garage in 2000. From the start, though, the group enjoyed connections that most garage bands lack: frontman Robert Carmine was the younger brother of actor/ex-Phantom Planet drummer Jason Schwartzman (not to mention the son of actress Talia Shire, cousin of Nicolas Cage, and nephew of Francis Ford Coppola), and both he and drummer Ned Brower had built modest acting careers (Brower briefly starred opposite Katie Holmes in Dawson's Creek, while Schwartzman landed roles in The Princess Diaries and The Virgin Suicides). The connections paid off, and Rooney — whose lineup also included guitarist Taylor Locke, bassist Matt Winter, and keyboardist Louie Stephens — made their live debut opening for Phantom Planet in 2002. Before the year was up, the L.A. natives had signed a major-label deal with Geffen/Interscope.

Since Rooney's demo material had been instrumental in landing them a record deal, the same producer who recorded those demos, Keith Forsey, was enlisted to work on the group's full-length debut. The result was a sunny, self-titled album that appeared in 2003, and sales spiked considerably after the band appeared on The O.C. (the first in a long line of bands to do so) in 2004. Later that year, the concert DVD Spit and Sweat was released, highlighting the group's transformation from teenage musicians into a road-seasoned outfit. Rooney began recording a second album later that year with producer Tony Hoffer, but the album — tentatively titled The Kids After Sunset — was eventually scrapped, despite several songs being posted on the band's MySpace page in 2005. More tracks from those sessions leaked onto the Internet and were dubbed The Lost Album. The band attempted to record its sophomore album again in fall 2005, this time with Howard Benson in the producer's seat. The record was slated for a 2006 release but was also scrapped due to the band and label's inability to agree on a track list.

In 2006, Rooney toured with Kelly Clarkson and returned to the studio with producer John Fields for a third — and successful — attempt at their second album. Calling the World was released in summer 2007 and debuted on the Billboard charts at number 42, but the band's relationship with Geffen Records had suffered too much damage during the recording process, and Rooney left the label's roster in 2009. Later that year, the guys celebrated their independent status by self-releasing an EP, Wild One, and launching a brief tour. They didn't remain independent for long, though, eventually partnering with Warner Bros. for the release of their third full-length album, Eureka, in June 2010. Although bassist Matt Winter played on the record, he left the band's lineup several months before its release, with Brandon Schwartzel climbing aboard in his place.

album review

“What happened to the golden days? Was it just another teenage craze?” So asks Robert Schwartzman on Eureka, Rooney’s third record in seven years. Schwartzman and company first appeared in 2003, armed with a summery debut album whose songs bridged the gap between their parents’ record collections and their schoolmate’s iPods. The music referenced the past without ignoring the present, and the fact that Rooney’s members were all great looking — Schwartzman and drummer Ned Brower even worked as part-time actors — helped them stand out in L.A., a city crowded with retro-chic musicians and aspiring rock stars. Rooney never quite “made it” in the eyes of Geffen Records, though, and the label dropped them from its roster after 2007’s Calling the World. Released three years later, Eureka finds the guys stuck between pining for the golden days and looking toward the future, resulting in a track list that’s sometimes tuneful and often haphazard.

Somewhere along the way, Rooney seem to have gotten caught up in the technical aspect of making old-sounding albums. Both Calling the World and Eureka are expertly recorded, but neither can match the hooks found on Rooney’s debut, and vintage production only carries an album so far. If anything, Eureka is more about atmosphere, meaning songs like “Into the Blue” — soft rock tunes that place as much emphasis on guitar effects and general ambience as the melodies themselves — fare the best. The more straightforward pop numbers are the ones that take a bigger hit; “I Can’t Get Enough” trades style for substance and “You’re What I’m Looking For” cheapens its Heartbreakers-worthy guitar riff with a lackluster chorus, making genuinely strong material like “Holdin’ On” the exception rather than the rule. Rooney deserves some applause for taking their first steps as an independent band, but this is far from their best work.

Track Listing

1 Holdin' On Schwartzman 4:07
2 I Can't Get Enough Schwartzman 3:06
3 Only Friend Schwartzman 3:51
4 Into the Blue Stephens 3:33
5 All or Nothing Schwartzman 3:55
6 The Hunch Brower, Locke 2:30
7 I Don't Wanna Lose You Schwartzman 3:10
8 Stars and Stripes Schwartzman 4:00
9 Go On Schwartzman 3:20
10 You're What I'm Looking For Schwartzman 3:37
11 Not in My House Schwartzman 3:29
12 Don't Look at Me Schwartzman 3:59