So Rooney is a band from California. On their first self-titled record, which came after a few awesome EPs and unreleased songs like “Yuki San,” they proved themselves worthy of the fame they received with surf tunes (Blueside), ballads (Losing All Control), and power pop anthems (Shakin’). That record, while not a “game-changer,” was still a great listen and even went on to become one of my favorite albums of all time. Between Rooney and Phantom Planet (for which an in depth review is being written soon) my 2003-2004 was soundtracked to perfection. Then something happened…
Rooney went hard to work on a follow-up to their fantastic first album. They recorded demos of 15 new songs in 2004, then better versions of a few more. The label rejected almost all of the songs and only three ended up being used on the album “Calling the World,” released in 2007, two years after many of their fans wrote them off and moved on. The delay effectively ruined their chance at a strong early career, and they’ve been fighting it ever since. Their latest album is Eureka and it will be reviewed shortly. What I want to talk about is where I think the band went wrong, and what they should have done instead. I’m not trying to put the band down, for I heart them, but some better decisions could have been made in my humble opinion.
After the Jump – My analysis and some links!
The first mistake the band made was the move away from the surf rock sound of the first record and into the overproduced sound on the second. The area that could have fixed this was the four years in between those albums. Fans eventually got a hold of and released the Lost Album, or the songs abandoned in that interim. The second mistake was abandoning the “darker” sounds of these interim songs, opting for the brightness of the second album instead, which came out kinda cheesy (though still good!). Here’s a track by track review. Wait, no, that’s a bad idea. Let’s just say there are some great songs and some terrible ones, which is understandable because they’re just demos.
The great ones are “She’s a Fool,” “She’s Got Everything,” “We Won’t Work Late,” “You Know Better,” and “Are You Through With Me?” The terrible songs are “One Armed Man,” “My Sickness,” and “The Kids After Sunset.” The rest of the songs are average or slightly above. “What Makes You Special” has real potential, but unfortunately was abandoned. The songs from these sessions that were redone were “Paralyzed,” “Tell Me Soon,” and “Don’t Come Around Again.” They made it to the second album, but were overproduced and not as impacting as they were in demo form.
If you find the Lost Album and listen, you can tell the demos maintain that surf tone their fans loved, while Calling the World almost completely abandons it and goes with an almost slick late seventies feel. I don’t think that is what the band really wanted to do, so I guess their label or producer pushed them towards it. Anyway, the second album, like the Lost Album, has good and bad songs as well. “All In Your Head” and “Help Me Find My Way” are pretty terrible, even though the chorus is decent and it’s supposed to be a ballad, respectively. Meanwhile, “Believe In Me” is superb and the bonus track “Get Away” is a perfect album opener. I honestly can’t figure out what went wrong along the line and how such different songs ended up on the same album.
The solution I came up with for the band is simple, though I won’t claim it as perfect. I think they needed to release an EP before the album. The EP would have contained the weirder songs that didn’t really fit the “Rooney” mold they had carved for themselves, but two months later the band would have come out with an awesome album getting back to their core sound, pleasing all their fans and reasserting themselves as the Rooney they were meant to be. Here are the track lists I have chosen, but feel free to come up with your own and post your comments. Once again, I did not spend hours on this as a lashing out, but as a work of love for a talented band I truly care about and want to see succeed.
The Paralyzed EP
2. Enough’s Enough
3. The Juice
4. Pin Me Up
5. We Won’t Work Late
6. What Makes You Special
6. Sleep Song
The Second Album
1. Get Away
2. She’s Got Everything
3. Too Late
4. Believe In Me
5. Love Me or Leave Me
6. You Know Better
7. Where Did Your Heart Go Missing?
8. She’s a Fool
9. Are You Through With Me?
10. What For
11. Love Is Not a Game
12. Something To Do
If this happened, it doesn’t matter how long it would have taken, Rooney would have come back from the dead. Their already huge following would have grown exponentially, and they’d still be selling out shows based solely upon their small discography. I’m sure of it. For now, here is a link to download their Lost Album, a song that’s great, and my sincere apologies to any fans who love some of the songs I bashed on or didn’t include. Please don’t hate me for this, especially if any of the band members read it…
Go buy their muzac at the myspaces! The review for Eureka is coming soonish…