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The best kept secret in music


"Straight 7" Review"

Their pad is very messy, they got whiskers on their chin, they're gone on powerpop music, and they always play to win. Or so the A-side tries to convey, though these L.A. formalists clearly mean to beg the straightness question merely by raising it. In their first songs to surface since their worthy 2000 debut album, they pound and swing the boogie harder and sweeter than ever; both tracks would fit real well on Cheap Trick's All Shook Up, so Tsar's guitars could offer quite the machismo lesson to Weezer, whose T-shirts their "Tsar the Rock Group" slogan recalls. Even more blatant: quotes/references to "Pretty Vacant," "Bat Out of Hell," and "I'm Straight" by the Modern Lovers, who meant the word differently. Then, on an almost-as-flawless flip side alluding to adolescent bodies metamorphosing monster-like, "My Generation," the Move's Shazam, and BC's "Godzilla." Or maybe the Dolls' "Frankenstein." Or Edgar Winter's. Do the crossword puzzle yourself for once, bucko.
- Village Voice

"Band-Girls-Money Album Review"

Tsar is finally back with their long-awaited sophomore effort. Five years after
their self-titled debut, the best band in LA has unleashed an awesome album which will
be in my top few albums of the year without a doubt. Hopefully the world is ready to
hear it this time and make them the stars they should be. After several years of
working out different songs during their live shows, Tsar has come up with ten gems,
starting with the lead track, the rocking Band-Girls-Money, right out of the gate.
They don't slow down from there, with the catchy as heck Wanna Get Dead coming next.
Later in the album, the brilliant Wrong, which has hit written all over it, leads into
the crunching Everybody's Fault But Mine. Conqueror Worm, another favorite of mine,
lyrically and musically reminds me of Suede but is better than most anything they have
ever done. A favorite during their live shows, Startime is following by the only mellow
song on the album, You Can't Always Want What You Get. This album has a lot harder
edge to it than their first, which captures their live energy much better than anything
they've ever recorded. If you liked their first album, you'll love this one. If you
haven't a clue who Tsar is, run out and get this album now. (Check out www.tsar.net
for their upcoming shows).
- Desperately Kind Fanzine

"Tsar Live Review"

Two a.m. on a weekend night at the Double Down Saloon isn't the most comfortable place on Earth.

You can cut the cigarette smoke with a knife. The guys' toilet is unmentionable. There's even a kid wearing a spiked Mohawk. (Damn, that's a lot of Mom's hairspray.)

Worse: On April 8, opening bands the Livends (Texas gothabilly) and the Wastrels (San Diego hardcore) performed the most miserably irritating sets I've heard in the 15 years I've been attending punk shows. Dudes, quit prolonging the inevitable; jump right into flipping burgers or withdrawing from your trust funds. You suck, no matter what your girlfriends tell you.

After the out-of-towners, Vegas punk trio the Pervz went on. I've heard they're about to sign a deal with an independent label. This is likely true, as the Pervz are polished, good-looking and demonstrate a considerable amount of energy. Too bad their music lacks emotion, passion and intelligence.

Tsar, on the other hand, is an L.A.-based quartet that specializes in punked-out, hell-for-leather power-pop. The band's music sounds like James Williamson-era Stooges covering Cheap Trick after ingesting a shitload of speed. Tsar absolutely tore the fucking roof off the Double Down, so much so that I don't think the audience even knew what was happening. Songs like "Band, Girls, Money" and "Straight" hit like a gale-force hurricane filled with razorblades, causing me to pledge that whenever some hipster praises the lame butt-rocking of The Darkness I'm gonna flay him with a copy of Tsar's upcoming (June 7) release on TVT Records.

The next night, Tsar set fire to Matteo's Underground Lounge in Boulder City. Lanky frontman Jeff Whalen, wearing a T-shirt that reads, "I Have the Pussy So I Make the Rules," played to an audience of 40. You wouldn't have known it from watching him. The guy put his heart into every note, riff and pissed-off lyric. That night was also Poizen Ivy's birthday party, and the SinCitySounds.com mistress had the great taste to bring Tsar to Vegas for these shows. For that, she gets a big sloppy one from this music writer. - Las Vegas City Life


Tsar LP Hollywood Records
"Straight" 7" Birdman Records
Band-Girls-Money LP TVT Records
Band-Girls-Money single is on a radio, tv or website near you.


Feeling a bit camera shy


"And if you don't dig that, why don't you go home and watch some TiVo, fucker."

With the giddy pop songwriting craft of a thrift store K-Tel LP and the brash, penetrating sonic thuggery of your older brother's record collection, the rock band Tsar comes busting out of their LA trashbag to create Band-Girls-Money--some of the freshest, funnest, truest rock and roll in, oh, a little while.
Yes, my man, it's Tsar, fresh from the coast and ready to snort coke off supermodels' penises and then lie about it. Yes, my good man, it's Tsar, and they have more rock and roll in their little finger than most people have by nine o'clock in the morning. Yes, my good good sir, it is Tsar and they're ready to jump right out the freakin' wall.
But how best to describe them? Some try to categorize the band using the usual catchwords and buzz phrases of the day--Rock-is-back, garage, glitter-punk, pop-core--all of these are right, and yet all are wrong. So the question remains: Are they Guns n' Roses-times-the Monkees-plus-the Hives-divided-by-T. Rex? Or are they power-pop hand-jiving with '77 punk in a roller rink while trash-glam mugs neo-garage with post-proto-bubblegum's zip gun in the alley behind British Invasion's house. Or maybe that's all trying too hard and really it's just your standard Nirvana-Dead Boys-Buzzcocks-Archies-Pooh Sticks-Sex Pistols-Cheap Trick-Generation X-Stooges-Sweet-early Crue-type situation with just a shmear of early Redd Kross.
However you describe them, it basically comes down to this: Tsar is a rock and roll band having an inconceivably ridiculous time playing impossible pop tunes with unimaginable savagery and exhilaration And they're cute, too. Dreamy, even. Almost like gods, really... in a dirty, their-hair-probably-smells-bad kind of way.
Anyway ... with Daniel Kern's signature guitar leads juking and jiving every which way but bad (sometimes sustaining white-knuckled solos through entire songs without stopping), drummer Chuck Byler hitting things with sticks, bassist Derrick Forget thumping more fun than a barrel full of junkies, and singer Jeff Whalen cooing and yawping his tunes of freedom, redemption and toad-licking, you just can't stay mad at your uncle for that thing he did so long ago--because it's rock and roll and that can't be bad, cause there's nothing better a young man can do with his life than play in a rock and roll band and why not?