Tsar – Bands . Girls . Money Review
by Morley Seaver
I didn’t think a whole lot of this record at first….until I cranked it! The first few spins had me thinking it was a generic hard rock band with a good sense of melody but there was where it stopped.
Once I put some torque to it, the record showed its true stripes and it all somehow seemed to make sense. This is a melodic hard rock lite record that has punk (think Green Day) trappings. The emphasis is on the songs. There is not a clunker here, even through to some of the latter songs which are usually at the end for a reason.
This is the L.A. (home of the Crue, Faster Pussycat and the like) band’s second release, the first for TVT Records (their debut was on Hollywood Records).
The title cut just kicks the door down and invites itself into your living room. Fortunately it’s friendly. Manic guitars run shotgun with some spazzy vocals that sound like Steven Tyler when he was coked up, just not so much high (sorry, couldn’t resist) end. “Bands.Girls.Money” indicate the guys have their priorities in check, eschewing the usual sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll punchline.
“Wanna Get Dead” comes wailing in with a boppy chorus and if your head is not moving by this point, you’re over-medicated. “The Love Explosion” follows and is one of the highlights of the record. It sounds a bit like the previous cut with its singalong chorus but stands out regardless. Memories of prime-time Cheap Trick abound with this song.
“Superdeformed” summons the spirit of The Beatles with some late ’60s nostalgia that doesn’t sound like ’60s — you’d have to hear it to know what I mean. “Straight” is exactly that — a straight-ahead rocker that’s perfunctory but nothing more than an ass-wiggler.
“Wrong” is another of those juiced-up rockers…great chorus on this one. Nice screamo, borderline-The Used vocals at the end. “Everybody’s Fault But Mine” travels the same road as “Straight”…it’s just a bit more adventurous in the chord structure.
“Conqueror Worm” is a gorgeous, extremely ear-friendly piece. “Startime” celebrates the madness that is Los Angeles (no offence to all who reside there). And “You Can’t Always Want What You Get” finishes off the disc with a little less adrenaline but without skimping on the melody.
Tsar has successfully side-stepped the sophomore jinx with this release. It’s jam-packed with hooks, well-constructed songs and a bit of everything across the modern rock spectrum (I said a bit, people…don’t be writing me saying there’s no Thrice or Killswitch in there). This is a great record to put on while you’re getting ready to hit the town.
Just one last piece of advice…play it loud!