Rooney @ The Granada

6:20 pm by

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These So-Cal pop rockers emerged when I was in high school. I remember seeing their video for Blue Side, the only single off their first record, in rotation on MTV (they did play music videos once upon a time, but now that I think about, it may have been VH1…). Since that time, the music industry has had their “Oh Shit!” moment, kind of their equivalent to the real estate crash of ’08, after everyone figured out what file sharing was. Record labels have traded in their recoupable dinners for sack lunches and shed employees like prom dresses. A lot of bands on the brink have lost everything they worked for as their A&R guys have gotten the axe. I don’t know if Rooney some how got lost in this fray of music industry meltdown in the last few years, because to be honest, I had no clue these guys were still together till BOT asked me to cover the show. Being a sucker for pop, I was pretty stoked to hear them.

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Words by Michael “Grits” Smith
Photos by Anna “Hash Browns” Vernon

When Rooney took the stage, the first thing I thought was,”Damn! They’ve all got great hair!”

If Rooney’s sound could be described with other sensory images, it would look, feel, and smell like a day on Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles. Its warm, breezy and it just feels good. Even with respects paid to classic artists like the Beach Boys and Petty, Rooney doesn’t sound like a throwback band, and pairs well with bands like Phantom Planet, The Old 97s, and Weezer.

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They opened with Blue Side, so the rest of the night was a completely new auditory experience for me. Each of the the following 14 songs was big, melodic, and poppy. Taylor’s guitar playing was superb, knocking off classic rock riffs and ripping some great solos over the course of the night. Robert Shwartzman’s voice (who is, in fact, related to Jason Schwartzman, former drummer of phantom planet and Wes Anderson’s golden boy…) and crooned easily over the band singing “your mother loves my smile, your father loves my lifestyle.”

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The band was tight and entertaining all night. Their musicianship is as great as their songwriting, even thought it has failed to produce a single as memorable as Blueside. It is a shame; bands like this are as rare as good singles on top forty radio which can’t seem to escape the death-vice grip of American Idol alums lately. As the set closed, the golden boys from the west coast waved the California flag in the air, took a bow, and walked off stage – heading onto the next venue and then eventually to sunshine and the coastline.

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