Since forming back in 1999, Rooney has stayed delightfully true to their sunny Southern California roots. Founded by Robert Schwartzman (brother of Jason), the quartet crafts the kind of catchy, nostalgia-tinged pop rock that calls to mind Cali luminaries like Harry Nilsson and the Beach Boys, while never sounding too derivative. On their latest, the just-released Eureka, the band (collectively, Schwartzman, guitarist Taylor Locke, drummer Ned Brower, and keyboardist Louie Stephens) return to their (mostly) up-tempo guitar-rock roots. Songs fluctuate between groovy, piano-led R&B (“Stars and Stripes”) and boppy, brass-heavy dance tunes (“The Hunch”), yet collectively rest on a fairly simple mainstay of good old fashioned hook-fueled rock.
“I would say we’ve grown up as people, so hopefully that’s reflected in our music,” said Brower of the new album. “We’ve had a lot more experience making records, so, as studio musicians, we’ve definitely come a long way—and I think that comes across on Eureka. We also produced the record ourselves, so it’s a little different in that respect. It was just the five of us engineering and producing it.”
Brower describes the band’s first self-editing process as a surprisingly easy one, thanks to the nearly 10 years they’ve spent writing, recording, and touring together. And on record, that sense of comfort and camaraderie shines especially bright. Look back six years to Rooney’s breakout self-titled disc, and you can see just how much the band has grown: in the place of youthful abandon and boisterous rock-outs, we get polished musicianship and lyrical confidence that knows not to take itself too seriously. It’s still decidedly Rooney, but with a buoyant coolness that truly speaks to L.A.’s musical mindset.
“There’s a rich history of music here, and whenever we travel around the world, people hear California and think of it as sort of an iconic place, so we’re proud to really embrace that,” said Brower.
Rooney brings Eureka to life this Friday, June 18, at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) with former Panic! at the Disco members The Young Veins. For tickets and show info, call 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com.