Rooney, The Sounds and Paloalto

Here's a neat triple bill for pop lovers not put off by Hollywood shine and record-biz hype as long as it accompanies some genuinely enjoyable tunes. Hollywood-based headliners Rooney kick off their self-titled debut (on Geffen because singer-guitarist Robert Carmine's brother is Phantom Planet drummer/Rushmore star Jason Schwartzman, whose mom is Talia Shire, whose brother is Francis Ford Coppola) with a genuinely enjoyable tune called "Blueside," which sounds like Rivers Cuomo and Brian Wilson ignoring the outside world in an adult-sized sandbox; unfortunately, the rest of Rooney sounds like Rooney trying to sound like Cuomo and Wilson in an adult-sized sandbox. Great haircuts, though. Maja Ivarsson, the Debbie Harry lookalike who fronts Swedish openers the Sounds, also sports a great haircut; she should totally pester David Cronenberg into letting her star in one of his movies. I'm here to pester Blondie fans looking forward to that band's forthcoming Curse of Blondie into checking out the Sounds' zippy Living in America, which offers righteous guitar crunch for Hives heads and milkshake melodies for Ace of Base bods. Paloalto, who everyone loves to point out aren't from Palo Alto, are the least fun of the bunch: The low-cal SoCal band's new Heroes and Villains, the follow-up to its vaguely successful 2000 debut, does with cloudy U.K. guitar rock what hotly tipped Irishmen the Thrills' debut does with sunny West Coast guitar pop--fakes it with style and grace. Or at least style.

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Mikael Wood

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