Maybe the next best thing to a band that wears its heart on its sleeve is one that declares its priorities through its album title. For L.A. rockers Tsar, it’s a simple triumvirate: Band-Girls-Money. This actually plays out more like a formula: By crafting an ambitiously diverse array of concise, fast, rock’n’roll expressions as a band, Tsar aims to appease the largest number of girls who will, in turn, fork over their hard-earned money on Tsar CDs, concert tickets, and girlie tees. Let’s do the math.
If she sports a mullet and prefers ratty black concert t-shirts, she’s likely to dig the bratty, speedy “Straight”; its punchy power chords and blazing guitar riffs recall latter day rockers like Murder City Devils. Does she crave new wave? Try “The Love Explosion,” with its percolating build-up and keyboard-laced sing-along chorus. Is she a glam princess? “Superdeformed” or “Startime” should do the trick. Frontman Jeff Whalen displays agility throughout, managing to sound very much at home in these varied arrangements, although the album could do without a few wimpy forays towards whiny pop punk predictability. But the real airplane glue holding it all together is guitarist Daniel Kern; his solos lend a swift, defibrillator-like charge at several crucial moments.
So how does the equation work out? Did you show your work? Tsar has certainly been patient for solutions; after releasing their debut on Hollywood Records in 2000, the band was stuck in limbo for some time before signing with TVT in 2004. Answers will certainly come this summer now that Band-Girls-Money is in stores and the band is out on the road. Girls and money: beware!
Tsar tour dates:
7/8, Los Angeles, CA (Spaceland) 7/12, Oklahoma City, OK (Bricktown Live) 7/16, Syracuse, NY (WKRL Radio Festival) 7/20, Nashville, TN (Springwater Supper Club & Lounge) 7/23, Boston, MA (TT the Bear’s) 7/26, Grand Rapids, MI (10 Bells) 7/31, Buffalo, NY (WEDG-Edgefest)
Links: Tsar official site