Being the classic rock fan that I am, I am often reluctant to open up my ears to newer, modern music. Until recently my CD collection consisted mainly of Queen, Boston, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, etc. But this revelation of Tsar brought me to terms with what could possibly be a new era in music. I’m not sure if that even made sense, but hear me out anyway. …. I was given a band name and a small picture of the lead singer by a friend and I was determined to find out what they were all about. Boy am I glad I did. I was surprised to find that this quartet from Hollywood, California that started off on tour with Duran Duran, was actually worth listening to. My skeptical attitude has been formed over years of listening to countless bands that have never caused me to do anything but yawn and change the radio station. I have never been more happy and hopeful for a band than for Tsar. My synopsis of the album is that it is one filled with energetic, high power tunes, with an inspirational ‘rock on and rock hard’ message. The opening track “Calling All Destroyers” is a call to arms against whatever makes the youth of America so angry and bored. I must say that it is one of my favorites on the album. The second track “I Don’t Wanna Break-Up” is a frustrated, and questioning tune about a guy who wants to work things out in a troubled relationship. Other tracks like “Kathy Fong Is The Bomb” and “The Teen Wizards” are filled with energy and addictively catchy tunes that cause inevitable subconscious foot tapping or at least an amused chuckle. The two more ballady tracks on the album, “Ordinary Gurl” and “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die” have more of a melancholy sound, and “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die” seems almost nostalgic. I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys the happier, less serious side of rock. This music is definitely a picker upper and has totally changed my attitude about new bands. In the future, I will definitely be more open to a new band just coming on the scene. ….
Los Angeles’s Silverlake district (and its vaunted power-pop renaissance) had its turn in the spotlight as the 1990s closed, with Tsar among the big-label signings, even if the ”scene” seemed to largely evaporate. To their credit, this band of ex-Santa Barbara college misfits take their pop calling with an effervescent urgency–and a glammy/bubblegum sass that wears its Starwood ’78-era pedigree proudly. Tsar may deliver a quotient of hooks, harmonies, and screaming, as well as mercifully efficient fret fireworks worthy of early Cheap Trick, but that’s hardly the least of their Velvet Goldmine-era fetishism. Opening with the potent one-two punch of ”Calling All Destroyers” and ”I Don’t Wanna Break Up,” the 10 tracks here bound breathlessly from one anthemic, bigger-than-life pop conceit to the next with joyful abandon.. Jeff Whalen’s sweet, infectious vocals belie the songs’ wry, acerbic wit, fairly daring listeners to join in their often loopy sing-along choruses. Shoe-gazers beware–there’s nary a dirge in sight. –Jerry McCulley
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Tsar will launch 10,000 bands? I doubt it. But never before has a derivative band wrapped so many perfect Bowie and Replacements and even Stones-esque sounds into such a singularly pretty package. Thank god, the sum total of these influences somehow doesn’t lend Tsar a tired post-modern, ironic, borrowed sound at all — rather, this is earnest, honest, and forthright rock from a band that seems to mean every note it plays and every word it sings. This is courageous stuff in today’s music circus, full of “safe” and bashful sounds hiding behind a curtain of irony and distance, and I pray this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Tsar. I hope the band will continue to live up to its glorious debut, which will remain at the top of my music heap for many years to come, and their coming success doesn’t go to their heads. That would be a shame: the world needs a tsar.
Tsar! Buy it and listen. Return to rock. Listen to the symphonies of So CAL beaches, occult choirs, starry mirages of tangled constellations, the harps of a few boys crazed imaginations. These leaders/saviors of Post-modern Youth, both innocent and raging, re-pave and break apart the crashing plains of their very own Creations, tumultuous worlds! Of chaos and life! God and Satan at battle in a disc of colors spinning just above the head! Without this album many bands to come would not be allowed to explore the forgotten pathologies of a larger people, a pathology of love enforcement, grace through destruction, hypnotic surges, monstrosity and technology. The fantasies these boys cultivate DO INDEED contain that mysterious power which is precisely FREEDOM’S, GOD’S and AMERICA’S – a mysterious power which gives THE KIDS a new direction, a light and a sound forever exciting to the flesh of the heart. (! )
Just when you thought rock didn’t matter at all … Hail Tsar, the outrageous LA punk-pop-rock band that makes you want to throw bricks through the police station windows and pound a hole in the dashboard. After more than a year of thrilling Hollywood, the band’s debut LP is better than we could have imagined. Beautiful, savage songs, thick with hooks and searing guitars, locomotive bass and staggering drums. It sounds like a combination of Clash anthems, Ziggy Stardust scuz, Replacements’ hope, Nirvana violence, T.Rex groove, ELO pop, Guns n Roses’ swagger … all processed and infected by some sort of Martian revolutionaries in 2057 and beamed back to a beach party that turns freakish, lasers and sirens and tidal waves and teen girls dancing around a bonfire of $100 bills. “Gurl Who Wouldn’t Die” is the secret weapon, a final track of lush broken lust that will be the slow-dance prom song of 2001. Everything that comes before is huge, loud, from another time. This record will start 10,000 rock bands.
I like Tsar because they make me wanna smile. I can’t smile cuz my teeth are all cracked and fuzzy.I like Tsar because their rock makes me tap my feet. The bottoms of my feet are all cracked and fuzzy, too – crank is a rough and tumble mistress!I like Tsar cuz Danny-boy Kern is from Chico and it’s about time a GREAT band (besides Deathstar, of course) emerged from the musical wasteland that is Chico, California.I like Tsar becuz they rhyme with gee-tar. And that’s just damned neat.I like Tsar because they sing “la-la-la-la-la-la-la-LA” and bands don’t do that much anymore.I like Tsar because they have more noodles in their songs than I have (uncracked) teeth. I like Tsar cuz when I listen to ‘The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die’ it reminds me of playing the Journey game on my Atari when I was wee.I like Tsar just because I like Tsar so there you ninnypants.