Power Pop Rocks

The L.A. quintet Rooney has not exactly suffered from its Hollywood connections or good looks. Frontman Robert Schwartzman is the brother of actor (and occasional rocker) Jason. This makes him son of producer Jack Schwartzman and part of the extended Coppola clan that includes his mother Talia Shire, uncle Francis Ford Coppola, and cousins Sofia Coppola and Nicholas Cage. Schwartzman is a sometime actor, having appeared as a gentle heartthrob in flicks such as The Virgin Suicides and The Princess Diaries. All of this must have helped land Rooney a few gigs in recent years, notably a 2004 slot on the soundtrack (and later appearance in an episode) of The O.C., and tours with the likes of Kelly Clarkson and the Jonas Brothers.

However, Rooney's band members are not saccharine pop tarts. Playing together for almost a decade, they possess tightly honed musical chops and an innate knack for catchy rock songs with sticking power and just enough substance. The band cites ELO, the Beach Boys, Teenage Fanclub, and even the Raspberries and the Buzzocks as influences. They are masters of that vein of buoyant power pop — which they play with fuzzy aplomb and sing from a romantic but slightly intellectual sensibility.

Opening act Locksley hails from the opposite coast; the band formed in Madison, Wisconsin, but solidified at NYU. The group mines similar turf, though. However, its brand is slightly more Anglo-tinged, with strains of the clean jangle-pop of, say, the Hollies and the Kinks. The sound is hooky and bright enough to have snared the grizzled critics at Billboard, Alternative Press, and the New York Daily News, and eventually won the band rotation on MTVu — the first unsigned act ever to do so. If soaring melodies, handclaps, and shaking tambourines are your thing, Locksley is totally your new favorite crush.


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