Review: TSAR Band-Girls-Money

If you think Green Day is 21st century punk, then TSAR is 21st century glam.

The self-proclaimed hottest band in LA is TSAR and one listen to their second album, Band-Girls-Money, makes it clearly apparent that they aren’t just shamelessly self-promoting themselves. TSAR rocks and rocks hard. The fickle music industry is always looking for the next big thing. TSAR is it.

As it stands, TSAR is more akin to early Cheap Trick with a dash of Sweet and maybe some T Rex pomp. Their influences are everywhere in the music, the showmanship and their style. I haven’t seen the band live much past a short video clip and a commercial, but when your lead singer parades around in an American flag cape and the rest of the frontline runs around stage in a rock-induced furvor, music aside, you will get noticed.

Of course, if you sound awful no amount of hairspray or well placed eyeliner will move you past the trenches of a burgeoning rock scene. Band-Girls-Money has some of the best glam/cock/rock I’ve heard since Hair of the Dog disbanded. Each song is short with only one track topping four minutes. It makes for 30 minutes of blistering rock.

TSAR puts on a show that their album only touches upon. In fact, it reminds me very much of how the early KISS albums had tons of energy and catchy rock riffs with mindless cock rock lyrics – but it was the live show that made a difference. TSAR should put out one more great studio album, go on tour and record it all for a live album. Watch this band explode.

1. Band-Girls-Money
The first track takes off like a rocketship. Musically, it has one of the best hooks in recent years. The fuzz rhythm guitar makes me smile and the lead guitar is all over the place. Production is subtle, but still you get the feel that the band just jammed this song and laid the best version down.

2. Wanna Get Dead
This song feels like Green Day-style punk. Lead singer Jeff Whalen is singing a bit more here instead of the screaming on the previous track, but he strains his vocals range fairly consistently. The melody is all glam though. The repeated “up” and “down” is infectious.

3. The Love Explosion
XXX is singing here and it’s a nice change, but he quickly moves into his screaming voice. I like the “ohs” which, again, are repeated in glam fashion and form a nice non-lyrical chorus. The lead guitar is fun and the whole song feels like later day Green Day.

4. Superdeformed
Here’s your second single. The song starts off with a bass/drum line that reminds me of “Pink Cadillac” from The Boss. Dan Kern riffs up a storm here. Whalen is singing instead of screaming. Lyrically, they steal from several sources (Jesus is just alright…) but it works. This is a fun song that really showcases the whole band.

5. Straight
Glam/Punk mix here. Again, lyrically they need help (“bat out of hell comes to mind). It’s one of the weaker songs on the entire album.

6. Wrong
Whalen is singing here accompanied by Kern’s clean guitar. Vocally, he can sing, but I think he really needs some coaching. He pushes on songs, that he probably doesn’t need to. I like the chorus here a great deal and the back-up vocals help the overall feel of the song.

7. Everybody’s Fault But Mine
Ominous guitar work here gives the song a dark feeling at first and then staccato riffs make it sound fun. This is like a glam song that doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. The solo is pretty weak here and doesn’t serve the song.

8. Conquer Worm
“Goblam, the conquer worm” is a commentary on war that seems out of place here. Musically, the song is straightforward with little screaming. The melody has a good feel, but lyrically it is all over the place. I like nonsense lyrics, especially in the opening stanzas of the first track, but here they seem confusing.

9. Startime
This track should have lead off the album. It is all hard rock glam with feedbacking guitars and hard-hitting drums. The beat drives the entire song. It’s glam all the way with funny, nonsense lyrics that just sound cool together. The chorus/bridge is catchy. The one note lead guitar works here. Is that a horn section I’m hearing? The extended ending made me smile.

10. You Can’t Always Want What You Get
The slow song. Ratt prided itself on never having a slow song on any of their albums. I’m not sure it works, but glam acts always have the power ballad that gets the girls to swoon. Poison was a master at that. Whalen has a voice similar to Billie Joe from Green Day and it shows here. I love the play on the Stones’ title.

Overall, the album is definitely worth the $10 I paid for it at Best Buy. I’m very much interested in seeing them live. I’ll have to check their website for nearby dates.

I’d love for someone like Mutt Lange sink his teeth with this band. Maybe for their next outing.