If there is one thing that many music lovers can agree on, it’s that California has the most happening music scene out of the U.S.A.’s 50 states. I guess you can say it’s been like that ever since people in the America’s first started to pay attention to music. Ok, chances are, you’re probably disagreeing with the preceding statement, but that statement did come into affect in the 1960’s, as the Beach Boys, The Byrds, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, Love, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, as well as many other bands started to take form. These seemingly bold artists not only brought an antidote to the struggling Americas, but also called out those British bands that were invading American soil. Through the decades, California continued to boast more and more musicians, seemingly getting a fresh batch out of the oven every decade or so. Enter the present day California music scene, one filled with pop punk junkies and indie bands. Add in your rap artists, most of whom attempt to be facsimile rip-offs of rappers from rap’s yesteryear, and you’ve got your California music scene, present and accounted for.
I mentioned last paragraph that the present day California music scene is chock full of Indie rockers. And a perfect example of this type of band, hailing from La-La Land, Rooney. A five piece group, Rooney likes to mix elements of the 60’s and 90’s into their music to create a cool, vibrant sound that most kids from Cal will take a liking to. The world was introduced to Rooney in 2003, with their self titled debut. With the release, Rooney added to the ideology that most rock stars from the Golden State hold so dear, that the world revolves around partying, and girls. And I’m sure somebody is thinking “Great, another record from California that has only one subject tied into it…..GIRLS! Why should I waste my hard earned cash on another stupid album like this?” And though this may seem like an accurate question, foolhardy it really is. The fact of the matter is, Rooney isn’t a carbon copy of most of the bands we see these days that talk about girls, love, and relationships. While the lyrics may center around love and what have you, the musicianship adds elements off rock, alternative, and pop into every song, creating a deranged but catchy combination.
Enter Weezer, one of the most famous bands from the California rock scene since the early 90’s. Weezer skyrocketed to the top of the California music scene in 1994 with their critically acclaimed “Blue Album”. It seems they’ve been riding a wave of momentum ever since, though their last few releases have been nothing but stripped down versions of cliché tunes that aim to sound like songs from the band’s heyday. So here we have Rooney, a newer band, looking to strike it rich. And though they are a newer band, they want to create a crisp, refreshing sound that won’t stifle to many fans. Well ladies and gentlemen, Rooney achieves just this, as they practically photocopy the sound of Weezer, tweak a few areas, and vawala, you’ve got the sound of Rooney. So, it’s no wonder that Rooney’s biggest influence by far is Weezer. Stay Away is a perfect example of the relationship between the two. The catchy but ingenious layering of the guitar and bass automatically hooks the listener from the first note. The instrumentation molds together perfectly to make a protective mesh for the semi-eccentric vocals. And while the instrumentation and vocals are the strong points of Stay Away, the only area that comes up short is the lyrics. Starting to see a resemblance? If It Were Up To Me, the third track on the album, almost seems like a rip off of the Weezer song Holiday, as the main riffs are practically identical. And the final song, Losing All Control, puts Rooney’s debut into a quiet, soothing slumber, just like Only In Dreams does with “Weezer”.
So far, it seems like pretty smooth sailing for Rooney, no? While it seems like this debut is stellar so far, it sure contains many flaws. The lyrics throughout “Rooney” can be truly horrific, while at other points they are just plain pathetic. It seems that in most of the songs, the lyrics are “I met this girl last night. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She made me sigh” or something of that dreadful nature. Another aspect that’s horrible is the keyboard. It dishes out a raunchy 70’s sound that nobody wants to be bothered with. While at times it is bearable, it reaches it’s peak of horridness at Shakin’ and Daisy Duke And let us not forget about the songs themselves. If It Were Up To Me, Shakin’, Daisy Duke, and Sorry Sorry are all contenders for the worst songs, as each song has dreadful lyrics/ an unbearable keyboard part.
So, what exactly is this album missing? A hit, that’s what’s missing.
None of the songs on “Rooney” has the quality to be a hit. And because of this, there is a seemingly huge, gaping hole throughout the entirety of the album. But if you had to name one song that comes closest to being the hit off of “Rooney”, it would be Blue Side, the albums opener. Blue Side exploits great technicality and quality all at the same time, which makes for an enjoyable track. Though the keyboard can get very insidious, the instrumentation is by far the best you’ll hear on “Rooney”, as the band throws in a rare guitar solo, and an elementary but fun bass line to boot. Being the single off of “Rooney”, Blue Side does not let us down for one second. Blue Side is a much needed boost to an ill proportioned album.
At times they can seem unoriginal. At times they can seem dull. At times, they can seem like one of the most annoying bands you’ve ever heard. And in the end, Rooney’s self titled debut isn’t anything to behold. Sure, there might be a decent track here and there, but most of the songs are two and a half minute lollygaggers that exist because time needs to be eaten off the album. Don't get the wrong idea here, for some of the songs on "Rooney" are fun. The thing is, the band lacks some elementary music ideas, which ultimately drags the album down as a whole. Better luck in 2007, dudes.