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Caesars - Paper Tigers
By Brutus Travis Maximus

A Scandinavian band, with an Italian name, playing British Pop/Garage.  Sounds about as appetizing as Swedish Meatballs Alfredo with a side of fish and chips, right?  Well, put away your Pepto, things are not as bad as they seem.  Admittedly I came to the Caesars with some skepticism, songs that hit big in commercials don’t usually get me in the mood to buy.  The Caesars’ song, “Jerk it Out”, impossible to miss in the endless iPod commercials assaulting your television, is such a song, and despite being included on several other releases by the band, shows up again here.  Add to that the fact that Caesars have been touted as another in the wave of Garage revival bands, and you have a whole lot of hype sitting on the shoulders of these young Swedes.  Surprisingly enough, Caesars overcome the trendiness that should, by all rights, have sunk them in my opinion and deliver a very listenable, if unexceptional, album.
Far from the disco Hell of Abba or the church-burning, brain-eating, Satanic Metal pandered by many of their countrymen, “Paper Tigers”, the new release by the Caesars, is a delicate album, infused with pop sensibilities and just barely folky British Invasion aesthetics.  Scandinavian rock fans fear not, however, Caesars won’t damage Mayhem’s homeland’s reputation for evil too much.  Singer Cesar Vidal’s unassuming bleat fits nicely on top of the basic guitar-bass-drums rock and roll that the rest of the band churns out. 

It’s not high art, but the organ-drenched tunes have a way of working themselves into your head.  “Throwaway” even adds an interesting guitar solo to the proceedings.  There is airiness to the music that lends itself to the British Pop-Rock that began to emerge in the seventies. ”Winter Song” could have come straight from an early Moody Blues record. Perhaps it’s the mellotron, or the amount of space in the recording, but the strings and guitar work well together and create an atmosphere in complete contrast to the hit-making nature of “Jerk it Out” (present here, it should be noted, in an extended remix).  

The Caesars haven’t completely abandoned the garage either, although this album is much slicker than previous efforts.  More upbeat numbers like “We Got to Leave” are closer to bands like the Mooney Suzuki than some would care to admit and there are hints of Elvis Costello, without the stellar songwriting, lurking around the corners.
 “Paper Tigers” won’t make my top ten for the year.  In fact, after I finish this review, I may never play it again, but there are a lot of people who would.  This music is a return to simple Pop music. Not the overproduced, over marketed, sugar-coated, waste of air time that gets tagged as Pop music now.  Not Pop as in Popular, more like Pop as in bubblegum.  It’s more like a Del Shannon record than a Britney Spears record, in short.  Generous use of echo and the aforementioned organ and mellotron give the Caesars a decidedly retro sound affected by a modern ethos.  The record is impeccably produced, and even if it does border on the goofy at times, “Paper Tigers” works on enough levels to place it miles ahead of other commercial-doomed bands like Wiseguys. 

Caesars are a band that knows who they are.  With more technology and without Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones could have ended up sounding like this.  The Caesars defiantly don’t have the staying power of Keith Richards or cockroaches for that matter, but they may survive long enough to get another record out in the States.  I just hope they don’t run into any of the guys from Mayhem in a dark alley.

CD Info 

Caesars - Paper Tigers
Label: Astralwerks
  1. Spirit 
  2. It's Not The Fall That Hurts 
  3. Out There 
  4. Jerk It Out 
  5. May The Rain 
  6. My Heart Is Breaking Down 
  7. Paper Tigers 
  8. Your Time Is Near 
  9. Throwaway 
  10. Winter SOng 
  11. We Got To Leave 
  12. Soul Chaser 
  13. Good And Gone 

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