Jeff Whalen knows a thing or two about writing a catchy song. The frontman for Los Angeles rock band Tsar has branched out on his own and released his debut solo album, the aptly titled Ten More Rock Super Hits. Fittingly, for a musician who described his work with Tsar as a cross between Guns N’ Roses and The Monkees, the songs found on his debut are both incredibly accessible and irresistible at the same time. So while Tsar had a slightly harder hitting edge to their music, Whalen as a solo artist takes cues from the pop-tinged rock n’ roll that made Adam Schlesinger and Butch Walker such listenable songwriters.
Ten More Rock Super Hits boasts a compelling mix of rock n’ roll and power pop coated with the mesmerising appeal of 60’s beat. Songs like “Goofing Around” and the single “Jendy!” would find its place perfectly on Top of the Pops, while “Ground Game for Worm” is impossibly infectious. The album’s highlight is the power pop anthem “The Alien Lanes”. Taking a page out of the Cheap Trick book but undoubtedly Jeff Whalen, its got the most hook-worthy chorus of any song in recent memory, one that’ll stick in your head long after the song is over. Its soaring harmonies, synth-laden handclaps and so-easy-to-love nature makes “The Alien Lanes” a song we’ll be talking about for a long time. The song has that “impossible not to love” vibe and is a real standout.
Whalen isn’t afraid to traverse the rock spectrum on Ten More either. Whether it’s the bluegrass-tinged doo-wop esque “Shanghai Surprise” or the piano-strewn Elton John-like balladeering on the beautiful “Soylent Blue”, Whalen has a firm grasp on rock music’s many different tones. His ready-to-go songwriting translates well into the songs he writes- they are easy to get into but textured enough that none of the songs become fluff. It’s unsurprising then that when you’re done listening the first inkling is to go back for seconds. You don’t have to be a fan of GNR, Cheap Trick, or the Monkees to love Ten More Rock Super Hits. You just have to love rock n’ roll with a little style. It’s glamorous indie rock n’ roll after all.