Click here to buy it now: Band-Girls-Money
Distributed By: TVT Records
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
Their music has been heard on a Nestle’s commercial and a Napster commercial, immediately causing those who heard it to find themselves bopping to the music over a day later. They tout themselves as “part glam sex-pose, part punk sneer, part pop craftsmanship” on their website, www.tsar.net. Who are they? They are Tsar, they sound almost eerily like what would be produced if The Ramones and Green Day mated, and while I still have no idea what their name is supposed to mean, they are exactly what their website has described. Is their music any good? Well, that is the question, now isn’t it?
Tsar is composed of Daniel Kern on lead guitar and background vocals, Chuck Byler on drums, Derrick Forget on the bass guitar and background vocals and Jeff Whalen singing and screaming his heart out in a way that comes surprisingly close to Billy Joe of Green Day fame—and that’s a compliment I would never hand out lightly. Band-Girls-Money, the title of Tsar’s latest album definitely tells you a lot about the band right off the bat. This is a band that is all about the days of Rock excess and they flaunt it. On their website, they say that this is their list of priorities, and I would almost say it’s enough to make you roll your eyes, if the title track wasn’t so damn good. The first release of the album and that song that found its way to the candy bar commercial, “Band-Girls-Money” is a bouncy, rocked out punk beat that would make anyone want to mosh. This is a great start to the album.
The album marches on with “Wanna Get Dead”, a song whose lyrics made me laugh, although I’m not sure that was the purpose. If you’re living with the guilt of the fu**er you are/then you wanna get dead/you wanna get dead. That’s classic—and it has the crazy pop beat of the album opener which had me thinking that this song was bound to be Tsar’s second release.
After that the songs are still entertaining but they slowly begin to sound the same. Most of the songs simply operate as rock anthems, fun to listen to, but not exactly ground breaking.
The fifth song, “Straight”, is strangely homophobic considering the band’s androgynous appearance. In lyrics that must be mocked, Tsar channels Michael Jackson in “Bad” when he sings, “And the whole world wants an answer right now/but I’ll tell you once again/I’m Straight!” As jumping as his bands this bands beats and riffs can be, lyrics are NOT their strong suit. Another standout song is the final song on the CD, “You Can’t Always Want What You Get”, a ballad that basically sends the message that you never know what the outcome of a relationship will be going in through coarse vocals and simple but surprisingly truthful lyrics.
I can honestly say that I will be adding a chunk of Tsar’s songs to the already eclectic musical mix that is my iPod. Having already listed the very many bands this group reminds me of at the beginning of the review, I don’t think it will be a surprise when I say that Tsar doesn’t exactly have a new and innovative sound. Thankfully, what they do, they do well. Here’s to the hope that Tsar has many successful albums to come—and maybe even a bit more variety next time.
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