Friday, December 06, 2002

From The Brain of the Giant Head

Get Yourself "Boxed" In By SwissFarlo

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was the frontman and guitarist for the now infamous band, Optimus Prime. We were the punk rockers you’d love to love and love to hate and love to see on MTV one day, but that day never came. Why? Well, much like other famous rock bands that broke up over drugs, egos, and money, we too had a problem that was insolvable at the time. We all left for college. (See VH1’s Behind the Music: Optimus Prime.)

I miss the days of playing loud and the cops knocking on our door. I miss kicking over amps and smashing things just because we could. I miss the Authority Guru’s (and our drummer Aaron’s) Mom’s brownies she made for us after band practice. I always assumed we’d eventually become the most famous rock band to ever emerge out of the greater Cincinnati area, but since we are on an extended hiatus, I’ve found another band that could steal the title.

The other day I received the gift of a CD by a Cincinnati band named SwissFarlo. Now, for the record, I should note that the lead guitarist and singer is a friend of mine named My Cousin’s Boyfriend Tim. He doesn’t look like your typical rockstar and his sideburns are longer than a Pink Floyd album, but he’s clever and witty and shares a love for comfortable chairs with me. The rest of the band’s lineup includes Matt, Andy and Mike, a few guys also from the rough side of the city known as The Westside.

So, of course I was hesitant to pop SwissFarlo’s debut CD, "Boxed," in my Discman because, as you all know, I’m a Nazi about my musical taste and have standards higher than God. I believe 95% of music is garbage, 3% is acceptable for elevators, and the final 2% is good enough to hold a place on my wall of CDs. I’ve been known to bash my friends’ bands before cause I’m too honest to lie, so it took me quite a few days before I finally decided to listen to their album.

Much to my surprise, the musical beats and guitar strums were catchy. They were the kind of riffs you find yourself humming on the drive home from work or in the shower or on the toilet. You can’t get them out of your head, much like Hanson’s Mm’Bop. But unlike Hanson, SwissFarlo’s lyrics are fairly entertaining and the band has talent with an Elvis Costello feel to them.

On the first song, "Oh No," the inaugural line from the band is: "Well are you smiling? Oh No." I would have to disagree, as I would say "Oh Yes." But that was because I found a gas station selling its fuel for just over a buck a gallon which, if you lived in Chicago and saw that, you’d be smiling too. The song was pretty good as well.

Another tune on the album that caught my ear off-guard was track number 6, called "Roman Candle." It’s slowed tempo and revered refrain of chanting, "I’m not gonna fade away, I’m not gonna fade away," is so self-indulging and introspective that it’s the most punk rock song I’ve heard in the past 3 years. Of course, every other band I’ve heard sounds like Creed or Winger, so I’m not sure if my statement above is such a major compliment, but if they continue to do what they are doing they can prove themselves as a really good, if not great rock band. From my understanding, they’re already becoming a staple in some local Cincinnati bars, like Top Cats and the Comet.

I figured I should get someone else’s opinion before giving my final recommendation, so I called musical sage Death Metal Fan to my rescue. Now, Death Metal Fan doesn’t just rely on his own musical judgement to decide how good an album is. He recruits his dog, aptly named "James Hetfield," and locks "James" in the room with us as we sit back, have a few beers and listen to the SwissFarlo CD. Apparently, if the dog likes the tunes, it relaxes him and he poops on the floor. Now I know what you are thinking -- will Dave Mustaine ever leave Megadeth and rejoin Metallica? While I don’t have the answer to that, I do have an answer to the unorthodox dog test.

That dog let loose, leaving 5 piles of dung on the oakwood, which Death Metal Fan told me was equivalent to a 5 star rating. So, ultimately, I got the second opinion I needed and I can highly recommend this CD and so does "James."

He thinks it’s "The Shit."

In all seriousness, this CD is good. Real good. And I recommend you check out SwissFarlo’s Web site,, and buy their album "Boxed." It’s cheap (only $9, I think). It’s enjoyable. And it’d make a good Christmas present for that sibling of yours that you want to smack around for listening to EMO. Plus, when they get big you can say, "I was one of the first to own SwissFarlo’s Boxed."

And who knows, they could be opening for Optimus Prime’s reunion tour in 2004. (Negotiations are still in the works.)