In 2002, the sad news of Five Iron Frenzy's impending demise was announced. Along with the sad news of the band members parting ways, knowledge of two new recordings from the group were also made known to the public. The first of those recordings, a project consisting of b-sides, live tracks, demos, and joke songs, is aptly entitled Cheeses of Nazareth and is a tribute to the die-hard fans that have followed the horn-powered band from the very beginning.
Cheeses... opens with the b-side "Kamikaze" which was originally meant for their 2001 record Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo. The horn-enhanced rock n' roll track is classic modern 5 Iron and would have fit well on Boogaloo. "Rhubarb Pie" is probably my favorite track on Cheeses... as it uses the musical backdrop from "Ugly Day" (on 2000's All the Hype...) and is a flat-out fun tune written and performed by trombone player Dennis Culp. In the informative and clever liner notes for the album, lead singer and primary brains behind 5 Iron, Reese Roper, admits this was the original version of the song before the lyrics were changed to the more serious and sad "Ugly Day." "Marty" is a classic 5 Iron ska track originally meant for Our Newest Album Ever which later appeared on a 7 inch. A live rendition of "Fistful of Sand" offers fans a chance to hear the band's first attempt at playing the song live and includes Roper deliberately incoherently singing portions of the lyrics as the song had no been finished yet at that time. "Four Kids From Memphis" uses the music from "I Still Like Larry" on All the Hype... as does the humorous "Never Ask Us To Play This" (which urges fans never to ask the band to play their joke songs live). "Mind For Treason" is a re-recorded version of a skacore song that had originally been on the band's 1995 demo. Drummer Andy Verdecheccio offers his hardcore vocal talents on "Mind..." creating an overall experience that will remind the listener just why this song never made it to an official FIF record prior to Cheeses. Fans are next treated to original demo versions of "Cool Enough For You," "3rd World Think Tank," and "Old West" all from the band's debut Upbeats & Beatdowns. "Burn" and "Left" are unreleased songs from that same 1995 demo and are decent tracks, but suffers greatly from poor production quality. "Dog Food" is an Electric Boogaloo b-side that includes probably the worst vocals you'll ever hear come from Ropers mouth but is an amusing song nonetheless. "When I See Her Face" is an intriguing demo tune (with no liner notes) as it begins as a pseudo-love-song but abruptly ends with a startling surprise. Most of the tracks from here on out are downright musical insanity as in the dreary and haunting "Abraham Lincoln Beard" ("a symphonic adventure in three short movements" as guitarist Keith Hoerig puts it), the Joy-Electric-on-acid "Praise The Lord," the four-second "Give Me Back My Sandwich," the noisy mess "Omnivores For Mediocrity," the destructive "That Tastes Horrible," the pointless "No Grandma = Know Grandma," the Guardian-ish "How's About Some Milk," angst ridden "Donkey Basketball," and the delicately cute yet also pointless "Pootermobile." But that's not all! Highlight joke tracks include the gibberish-driven "It's So Hot (I'm Gonna Have a Heat Stroke)," the prank call "Thea and the Singing Telegram," the metal-influenced "Screams In the Night," Mexican-flavored "Mayonnaise Taco Monday," the southern "Chew Water," and the chipmunk mumbles of "Metal Rules!"
OK, so a good portion of the 34 tracks are mostly pointless musical mayhem, but let's face it: this is Five Iron Frenzy and a tap into the antics that are recorded behind the scenes. As someone who has enjoyed the band's music over the years I can say this really is a project for the Five Iron fan and nothing more. So if you're new to Five Iron Frenzy, you'll most certainly want to check out their 1997 record Our Newest Album Ever, but if you're a diehard fan just looking for a collection of tidbits from one of the craziest acts in music, Cheeses of Nazareth is perfect. Just don't expect every track on Cheeses... to be as pleasing as what the band has previously released.
Here's a little random JfH trivia for you... If you open the CD case, there's a map inside that highlights "Cheeses of Nazareth, PA." Jesusfreakhideout.com was actually born and bred from that very town of Nazareth, PA.- Review date: 04/19/03, written by John DiBiase
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