Spit and Sweat

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If you’ve seen this Los Angeles pop quintet on The O.C. and hoped they’d be the second coming of the Rubinoos, it’s time to grab the corsage out of the freezer and date yourself. It’s 2005 and now bands make their own concert movies and home DVDs to chronicle their rise to fame. Included in this package are four music videos and concert and documentary footage that clocks about an hour, which is an hour more than radio has spent with them. No wonder they’re calling Britney “a bitch on a string” in “Popstars,” their anthem about “the killers of rock ’n’ roll.” These guys are the real teen pop, innocuous pups with long bangs singing songs about “sh-sh-shaking” with fey keyboards that sound like they were sampled off a musical greeting card.

Some troubling developments rear on this DVD besides the Yellow Submarine menu graphics that peg them as the next Oasis. During their two-year rise, singer Robert Clemente virtually abandons playing guitar onstage, giving him two free hands to goad the audience into spontaneous clapping — during “Sorry Sorry” he asks them to keep their hands in the air like a stickup. Even gansta rappers at least let you wave. Worse, he’s taken to adopting a polyester white suit that leaves him looking like Eric Carmen or Steve Perry while everyone else is trying to look like Jet.

You can’t help liking some Rooneys better than others. Guitarist Taylor Locke is such a purist he insists that since Rooney practices in a garage (albeit a soundproofed one), they’re more garage than a band that actually plays garage band music but rehearses in a loft. Plus, on the “Blueside” video, you get the feeling the only reason they’re lip-syncing on a beach with amplifiers is so Locke doesn’t look stupid bending down trying to get feedback out of a nearby seashell. Drummer Ned Brower is the least likable Rooney, largely because he reveals the band’s heinous reality-show plot to invite people to an open audition in the hopes of catching some “weirdoes doing an interpretive dance” to the impossibly undanceable “Popstars.” And if you want to avoid pools with the same trepidation that Jaws kept you out of the ocean, listen to keyboardist-pool cleaner Louie Stephens’ explanation of pathogens. “You can’t get venereal disease from a pool, but that’s about all you can’t get.” Man, that’s rock ’n’ roll!

Serene Dominic writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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