Be warned, this album is not for the faint of heart
The Los Angeles-based band Frankie and the Witch Fingers sound like they come straight from a time machine. Their music is a mixture of the psychedelia of the ’60s and the rock ‘n’ roll of the ’70s. The band was formed in Bloomington, Indiana by a group of college freshmen attending the University of Indiana. Members John Menashe (guitarist), Alex Bulli (bassist) and Glenn Brigman (drummer) joined a band called Prince Moondog, which they performed with for about three years before their frontman left in 2013.
Soon after the breakup, the band was introduced to Dylan Sizemore, a guitarist and vocalist looking to form a band. Naming themselves after Sizemore’s cat, Frankie, Frankie and the Witch Fingers was brought to life, and they’ve been rocking on ever since. In 2013, they released their first album Sidewalk before deciding to relocate to California. Once on the West Coast, the band went on to record five albums. Along the way, they lost Brigman, who went on to explore other musical endeavors after their European tour, as well as Bulli.
But on October 2nd, Frankie and the Witch Fingers released their sixth studio album, Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters. It’s a psychedelic nightmare-fueled acid trip, complete with amazing vocals and a vintage sound. The whole thing was recorded in five grueling days, and since the band lacked a bassist, Menashe and Sizemore took turns playing the bass throughout the album (the band has since hired a new bassist for its upcoming tour, Nikkie Pickles of Death Valley Girls).
Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters has themes of death, mystery and the macabre. The album is fast paced, with vivid imagery and high energy. It’s over as soon as it starts, and it leaves listeners wondering what the hell happened before hitting the replay button for more.
The album starts off with the single, “Activate,” released in September. The song sets the tone for the rest of the tracks and the general style of Frankie and The Witch Fingers. They’re rockers, that much is certain. “Activate” allows the listener to travel back in time, with beats that will bring heart rates up in a matter of seconds, vocals expressed in screaming echoes and hair-raising drum beats.
Towards the beginning of the album comes “Where’s Your Reality?” and it’s the perfect song to jam to. It doesn’t hold back in its lyrics, vocals or sound. Listeners will find themselves unexpectedly head-banging to this song, as if they are at a concert in a grungy Los Angeles basement. While the question posed, “where’s your reality?” sounds like it may lead to an existential crisis, it’ll mostly just make listeners want to sing along.
“Urge You” is short and sweet, and it has one of the most distinct sounds on the record. It starts off with a sultry saxophone and other experimental sounds, sounding just as retro as the other tracks, but with a slightly different edge. It’s perfectly mysterious and dangerously smooth in its sound and vocals, of which the only lyrics are “let me urge you to go deeper, deeper into who you really are.” These lyrics resonate with the album; the deeper one goes into it, the deeper one will fall into the Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters pit.
The final track is “MEPEM,” which is an acronym for the title of the album, is the longest song on the project, clocking in at eight minutes. The song tells the listener to lose their “idealisms” before leading into the outro, which has possibly the most depressing lyrics on the album: “What’s gonna happen to all the people when the world burns up and dies?” Before the outro, the saxophone makes a reappearance. It wails on as the drum beat takes over and the outro begins. “MEPEM” ends with an elongated beep and a small pause… then the gates of hell are opened. It’s either the sounds of suffering souls or of every instrument ever used; it’s loud and intense and an absolutely perfect end to a wild album.
Frankie and the Witch Fingers are proof that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead. While their music may sound old school, it is still representative of rock music of today and of modernity. Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters will leave listeners equally as creeped out as they are intrigued.