Words by Alexandra Dominica
Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble – something wicked this way comes. LA based psychedelic devils Frankie and The Witch Fingers, have come steaming out of their time capsule and back into the psych community household at 4am, knocking over all the heirlooms and ornaments – waking up their 21st century counterparts (indeed, rather ghoulishly).
Aptly named after the guitarist Dylan Sizemore’s cat Frankie, we have a 60s psychedelic and 70s monstrous rock hybrid with rather long, green, inviting fingers. Five rapturous albums and after tours with ZZ Top and Cheap Trick, FATWF have set the bar high. Still however, they manage to deliver another molten hot album that drags us by our hair down from bedroom, to garage, to basement and now into the fiery pits of hell. There’s something almost ‘Call of Cthulhu’ about them, with their unnerving capacity for pushing the limits of sound and worlds filled with disorienting Kafkaesque landscapes, bubbling primordial grooves and nightmarish Lovecraftian creatures. Brilliantly named Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters…, their approach to creativity highlights a head-spinning modern ferocity fuelled by a penchant for spine-chilling tribal percussion and ancient rhythms. Nikki Pickle of Death Valley Girls now joins the group on bass, bringing the group some serious edge.
Beginning with the track ‘Activate’, it feels as if they’ve done an ‘Yzma’ and Kronk has pulled the lever on us – we’re now freefalling hard and fast down a mad cavernous spiral and only the old Gods know where we’re going. Then as the apparitions begin to appear and you become undone from mortal coil, the tones of ‘Sweet Freak’ strike up, creating a vibration that awakens the sixth sense, ripping the listener’s physical form to shreds to make way for the next level of consciousness. Following in the footsteps of The 13th Floor Elevators, The Grateful Dead and Blue Oyster Cult the group touch on those natural primeval forces within the psych genre. The polyrhythmic, deliciously addictive ‘Cavehead’ recalls the Talking Heads ‘Slippery People’ and native otherworldly grooves of legendary Swedish group Goat.
Sharing the stage with the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Tame Impala and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard among many others, Frankie and the Witch Fingers have come confidently into an highly saturated but talented scene – it’s impressive to say the least to come with such unparalleled fortitude, artistry and self-determination to stand out and make a statement. Bounding over the Californian hills comes this monstrous horde with terrible claws and terrible jaws. It’s true that so many fellow contemporary artists and bands have decidedly re-sculpted and evolved within the genre with such refreshing perceptions of psych and FATWF are no different. In Frankie’s case, it’s the hybridisation and embracing of garage/bedroom rock with psych that really distinguishes them from the crowd.
After a ride with Chicago/LA flagship Permanent Records the band landed at Brooklyn’s Greenway Records, a breeding ground for some exciting psilocybin-induced garage and psych rock pioneers. Now working with exciting powerhouse LEVITATION and their label The Reverberation Appreciation Society, the group’s Sci-Fi creation now sits as an RAS / Greenway co-release.
This psych-dripped chocolate cake of an album has not been cut into quarters and the entire confection is designed to be consumed in one sitting – Bruce Bogtrotter style. This is thick, rich and infinitely funkier than the garage bedroom rock sounds we’re used to from their 2015 self-titled debut, 2017’s Sidewalk and 2019’s Zam. They’ve gone from bedroom down the drainpipe to an underground party acid-heavy extravaganza. Polished, groovier and refined to an exceptional standard this party however, is invite only.
The final and title track ‘MEPEM’ is a window shattering 8 minute long headbanger that includes a saxophone and a harrowing rhetorical “What’s gonna happen to all the people when the world burns up and dies?” With a horrifying assemblage of instruments amassing and merging at the crescendo, then fighting a melee together to the very end, it proves to be possibly the most shocking and provocative psych album MOOF have heard thus far this year. We are our own monsters eating ourselves, and, on their new album, the band are inviting us to think about this ‘monster/person’ paradox and peer into looking glass for our duplicitousness and to see our true natures. So it is safe to say, while Frankie and the Witch Fingers are still living, breathing and gnashing their gnarly teeth, we won’t be heading to see Saint Peter at the pearly gates any time soon. We’ll be with them, where the wild things are.
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