Point in fact, Tsar was the best band to come out of Los Angeles in the 2000’s! They are one of the greatest power pop bands to come from the Los Angeles area, ever!!! Period!
They usually put out an album every five years, their debut in 2000 and Band-Girls-Money in 2005 and now this release, The Drugboy Tapes. This release is a compilation of pre-debut demos of 6 songs off the debut record (Afradio, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, Ordinary Gurl, Kelly Fong Is The Bomb, I Don’t Want To Break Up, and Silver Shifter) plus a unheard gem and a retitled song and two live cuts.
I always assumed that the songs and production on their debut masterpiece album were a product of the “big” producer and “big” expensive recording studio. The debut record had lush production, killer hook after hook, in the form of cool little guitar riffs and vocal melodies, inventive vocal delays, and memorable chorus after chorus!!! I was dead wrong, these demos (90% of the debut record) show that the singer and guitar player had the songs all ready to go, so it makes sense that they got a record deal and put it to wax, as is!!!! They used drum machines, cheap keyboards, digital delays, and acoustic guitars on rented and returned home recording gear to get their dream rolling, and the song structures are intact, and in some cases more interesting. The amazing thing about these demos is that the riffs and little hooks and sweeteners were already in place, showing just how genius singer/guitar player Jeff Whalen and guitar player Daniel Kern truly are.
The one demo song that did not make the debut, “Son of Light” sounds like it fits in nicely with the rest of the power pop hits on the debut record and the two live songs on the Drugboy Tapes, are taken from the first ever live performance of the classic debut line up, from a live show on KXLU radio station (A local Los Angeles taste maker indie radio station). Only 3 songs from the debut are not represented by this demo release, “Disappear“, “Mono Stereo” and “Teen Wizards” and “The Glower” was renamed “Calling All Destroyers” from the debut record. This release is highly recommended, as well as their Debut record and Band-Girls-Money, and if you are ever in the Los Angeles area, check http://www.tsar.net for current gigs. In the 2000’s they toured with the likes of Duran Duran and Towers of London and they recreate their catalog of songs live and are very high energy must see live act! Get this release from CD Baby or Itunes./Teddy Heavens
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