That record (this time) is the self-titled 2000 album by a quartet of wild-eyed ambitious LA kids called Tsar.
I came to Tsar by way of my cousin, who was friends with some of the members. The sticker on my promo copy says: "TSAR exhibit all the qualities of what will rescue rock 'n' roll: Anthemic choruses, blasting riffs and an all-important sense of melodic richness rooted in the tradition of classic British Invasion pop, but no doubt fueled by the brash, free-for-all spirit of early punk."
Yeah, right. How many part-time PR people have tried to frame their friend's band this way?
It was The Year 2000, the dawn of a new millennium, pre-9/11, and thus a pretty good time to be spouting such hyperbole. The thing is, though? Tsar's first record sounds kind of exactly like that — almost heartbreakingly so.. Once, sometime after embracing my immediate love of the album, I was raving to my cousin about its greatness, its ROCKness, and I let slip a personal predilection I'd been smugly hiding: "They're joking, right?" I gushed to him, and was immediately sorry, because — in his pause over the phone — I could hear the sting. "No, I don't think they're joking…" he too quietly replied.
It's happened this way for years: The itch starts and must be scratched. After a week or so of top-decibel car jamming, the TSAR cd goes back into the collection its appeal waning for a time. But after more than a decade, I can tell you that it always comes back out, the dream re-ignited by something or another in my boring non-rock life. And when it does, that same feeling comes over me again. "I wish somebody got this."
I make up that's silly "it's like" statements in my head and my latest: It's like Rick Springfield convinced Kiss to be the Bay City Rollers. And yes: that's a compliment.
I hope rock-n-roll always needs saving and always has room for saviors like Tsar. Even if people don't realize they're being saved.
— For BCM