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Album Review

Twisting post-grunge into a cheeky glam rock sound is the delicious façade of Los Angeles' Tsar. On their self-titled debut, Tsar plays around with generic-branded alterna-rock for a humorous collection of songs. There will be no thrashing angst-ridden headbanging going on, for Tsar melts glossy new wave elements with corporate guitar rock flair. And the spiraling guitar loops and teetering percussion are firmly in place for a healthy dose of modern pop/rock. To capture this jaunty punk-pop, Tsar brought in producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, Eric Clapton) and mixer impresario Chris Lord-Alge (Duran Duran, Savage Garden, Stevie Nicks, Hole). Frontman Jeff Whalen is lyrically wild, sheer, and quirky and his swirling vocals mimic the sassiness of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander. Songs like the anthemic "I Don't Want to Break Up" and "Calling All Destroyers" are loosely constructed to make the sharpest pop song sound chart-happy. They're lackadaisical in the artistical sense, but certainly an enjoyable listen. They aren't exceptional musicians yet, but Tsar's knack for nailing animated musical fluff is pure fun, and their music is meant to serve only that purpose.

Customer Reviews

Very solid, very upbeat, and very catchy

You know those few bands you listen to that you can't seem to understand why they aren't more well known? I mean, their music is awesome right? Well Tsar just happens to be one of these bands. Electrifying guitar solos, soaring choruses, well written (if sometimes strange) lyrics, and one liners that even the most tight-lipped person would sing along to. There are a few low spots where the energy falls off I will admit but "Calling All Destroyers," "Silver Shifter," "Kathy Fong.." and my favorite: "Teen Wizards" are all solid, single worthy pieces that I'm sure will slowly carry the band places. If you like punk but like a good set of words to go along with it, this is for you. Itunes generically labels this "Indie Rock" but I like to think of it as Power Pop.

AMAZING record!

After having to weather crappy music of the 90s, Tsar came along in 2000 and made me believe it new rock n roll. There isn't a note on this record that I would change (other than I would love for the ending guitar solo in "The Girl Who Wouldnt Die" to go on for like 20 minutes). This CD is fantastic. I wasn't as big of the less polished "Band-Girls-Money" release (or the King Of The School EP) but this album is a 10. It's awesome to read that the original lineup recently reunited for a show in LA. I hope they record another album just like this one. *****


This is a good first effort from this band but if you really want get a sense for these guys get their newer record "Band-Girls-Money" and catch their live show. Tsar plays an infectious brand of full-on glam punk rock n'roll. See one of their roof-raising live shows and you'll wonder why these guys aren't in high rotation on MTV. Don't waste time trying to pinpoint which variety of record company incompetence is at play here. Hear the new record, see them live, have lots of fun and pass it on.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

The L.A. pop-punk group Tsar formed in 1998 and soon won favorable reviews for their energetic gigs and anthemic songwriting. The group (Jeff Whalen (lead vocals/guitar,) Daniel Kern (vocals/ guitar,) Jeff Soloman (bass) and Steve Coulter (drums)) signed a deal with Hollywood Records and delivered their self-titled debut album in mid-2000. The album was an exciting, hook-filled modern power pop record that nobody bought, despite (or perhaps because of) the band's subsequent opening slot on a Duran...
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Tsar, Tsar
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Customer Ratings