I surprised myself with the last entry. I knew I wasn’t going to like it and well, I did. That happens and is my favorite part of this whole list: gems, I’d say. Eugene is a few weeks back and Jon is currently out of town (again), so he’ll start catching up soon. Let’s move on, shall we? And, it’s already #30. Only 20 more to go.
#30 – Tsar by Tsar.
My first thought was that this band should have been called Hubba Bubba or Bubble Yum because it’s a lot of bubblegum. Sugary instrumentation and bubble blowing lyrics fill this entire album. But, here’s the thing. I like bubblegum and I like this album. Q: Is it the greatest thing I’ve ever heard or is it something that I’d want a lot of? A: No and probably not.
There are parts that are blatantly very much up Eugene’s alley: riffs, rock and Cheap Trick. I heard that immediately. Then the more I listen there are other things that may not be blatant, but from what I know about my buddy is that he too can be a sucker for some bubblegum power pop. And, this definitely has that. If I were going to describe the album to anyone (which is what I’m doing here, I suppose) I’d say picture Cheap Trick slammed together with Simple Plan with Fountains of Wayne sprinkled on top. Plus, they’ve toured with Duran Duran so they couldn’t have been too heavy, right?
This album was released in 2000 and that’s just before Fountains of Wayne and Simple Plan and that ilk were hitting the scene and making names for themselves. So, this could be a precursor of that genre. And, Cheap Trick is a rock band first and foremost but they had aspects of some power pop goodness and were very influential of many a band that followed. I mean look at Clay Howard, my current partner in musical crime, he has Cheap Trick written all over him. Not a bad pedigree, I’d say. If you want to hear this combo of which I speak, listen to “Silver Shifter” followed by “Kathy Fong Is The Bomb.” Those two are quite representative of the marriage of those styles which aren’t too far removed from each other anyway. “Ordinary Gurl” reminds me of Oasis, which fits the Cheap Trick mode, I’d say. It’s right between the heyday of the bookends I spoke of. During the solo, I thought they were going to burst into the solo of “Purple Rain” but they didn’t.
The album has some heavy moments, to be sure, but is mostly airy and steady. Hooks are everywhere and that’s never a bad thing. There’s no listing for a keyboard player but it seems like there’s layered pads and such under most of the songs to give a little more of that airy ambiance. This is an easy listen and it’s fun.
Nothing stands out as the thing to listen for, and I think if there was, you’d be missing the point. There’s no member of the band that sticks out, they work together doing their business and giving you good stuff to listen to, jam to, rock out to and darn it, just enjoy.
Jeff Whalen has a great voice that is remnants of the 80s hair bands mixed with that mid-00s power. He also plays a mean guitar. And, so does Daniel Kern. Wide open chords (pun) with the occasional dissonance help to create the massive sound of which this album is representative. Jeff Solomon is a good bass player, although I’d like to hear a little more riffage from him, instead of just having him slave behind the guitars. That’s just the bass player in me talking, though. Steve Coulter is throwing down on some drums. He has subtle, yet impressive, licks in there and I love his hi-hat work. Listen to “I Don’t Want to Break-Up” to hear what I mean.
I can’t pick a favorite on the album because I don’t think there’s anything that I didn’t like. It’s all pretty good stuff. I had never heard of this band before. I don’t know how, but it’s true. And, to revisit my question from earlier. Q: Is it the greatest thing I’ve ever heard or is it something that I’d want a lot of? A (revised): No and probably. This is a good, easy-to-listen-to, enjoyable album with a talented band that knew their strengths and played on them. They’re a bit silly but they’re a shload of fun.
Thanks Eug for introducing me to this. I await your review of it and Jon, I have a way to wait for yours but I want to hear what you think of it, as well.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I’ve tempered with nature to increase my stature. And, I’ve twisted modern science. I’ve become an appliance and I’ve twisted modern art. And, I am Jean-Paul Sartre. I’ve done what the monkey done. 5,4,…3,2,1. Oh O, here we go. Living on the moon with the MonoStereo.” – “MONoSTEReo” (Tsar)