By Shirley Halperin
April 10, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

The Rooney guys are certainly gearing up for the May 22 release of their long-awaited second album, Calling the World. For the entire month of April, they’re hitting the Sunset Strip on a weekly basis, playing the Roxy every Monday night for a residency they dubbed “Monday, Monday.” And having followed this LA five-piece for some time now, I can tell you that the Mamas and Papas reference is no stretch. Ever since I first heard the sunny, sing-songy melodies of “Blue Side” off their self-titled debut, I’ve been hooked on these guys’ ridiculously on-the-mark harmonies. Now, after several years of touring, which included an arena trek this past summer opening for Kelly Clarkson, the vocal trifecta of singer Robert Schwartzman, drummer Ned Brower, and guitarist Taylor Locke is stronger than ever.

Look no further than Calling the World for proof. The album’s highly danceable first single, “When did Your Heart Go Missing?” might throw fans off with its retro 80s vibe, but the rest is pure Rooney goodness. Like the super-catchy “Don’t Come Around Again” or the epic prog-rock three-part act, “I Should’ve Been After You,” this is a record informed by ELO and Sloan, two of my absolute favorites.


Needless to say, I had a good time, despite coming off a 20-hourtrans-Atlantic flight. But I wasn’t the only one sh-sh-shakin’ in thecrowd. The Rooney guys have a very extended family in L.A. thatincludes some recognizable names. Like Mischa Barton, whom I spottedout front just before the band hit the stage, while in the dressingroom, the hilarious Jonah Hill (Accepted, 40-Year-Old Virgin), Brothers & Sisters‘Sarah Jane Morris (who is married to Ned), Andy Dick (who was MC-ingthe evening), singer-songwriter Ben Lee, and The Donnas’ ToriCastellano and Allison Robertson, who dates Taylor. And, of course, Mr.Front-and-Center, the adorable Robert (brother of actor JasonSchwartzman), hung loose.

Now, you know there will be something to write about when Andy Dicktakes the microphone. He debuted two of his latest musical ditties,whose names I don’t know; one featured the lyric “Dip your c–k invodka, and it hurts when you pee,” and the other started with “It’sanother great day for drugs.” He ended it by explaining its message:”Don’t do drugs or you’ll end up like me.”

Surprise opener Ben Lee also performed a new tune that he said “waswritten for my hero, Jay-Z.” It contained the lyrics “I want thehottest chick in the game… / I wanna be a self-made man / I wannaknow the things he understands… / What would Jay-Z do?” The Aussiedigs the Hova? Who knew?

But the new songs everyone was psyched for were Rooney’s, and the boysdid not disappoint, even throwing in a few classics (“Sorry, Sorry,”the aforementioned “Blue Side,” and “Shakin'”) and a cover of The BeachBoys’ “California Girls” (see a snippet here)with Ben Lee. Rooney promised a different cover every show (last week’swas Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”), so we’ll seewhat the rest of the month brings.

One person who’s sure to come back? The family’s matriarch, Talia Shire. Not only was the Rockyactress totally rocking out in the crush of the crowd, but sheencouraged others to as well. “It’s the songs!” she yelled excitedlyafter the show. “And it wasn’t as loud as it usually is,” added therocker mom, who proudly doesn’t wear earplugs.