Since initially forming in Bloomington, IN well over a decade ago, the acclaimed Los Angeles-based psych rock outfit Frankie and The Witch Fingers — currently founding duo Dylan Sizemore (vocals, guitar) and Josh Menashe (lead guitar, synth), along with Death Valley Girls‘ Nikki “Pickle” Smith (bass) and Mike Watt’s Nick Aguilar (drums) — have a long-held reputation for restless experimentation rooted in the multiple permutations of their lineups, and for a high-powered and scuzzy, garage punk meets thrash punk take on psych rock paired with absurdist lyrics, frequently fueled by dreams, hallucinations, paranoia and lust. And as a result, their material can be simultaneously mischievous, menacing and dreamlike.
Slated for a September 1, 2023 release through Greenway Records/The Reverberation Appreciation Society, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays’ forthcoming seventh album, Data Doom is built around the cerebral yet viscerally songwriting of the outfit’s co-founders, while marking the first written and recorded material featuring Smith and Aguilar.
In crafting what may arguably be their most rhythmically complex work to date, the band drew heavily from each member’s distinct sensibilities: Smith tapped into her extensive background in West African drumming, an art form she first discovered through her music instructor parents. Aguilar leaned into formative influences like longtime Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen.
Self-produced by the proudly DIY-minded band and recorded direct to tape by the band’s Menashe, Data Doom ultimately took shape through countless sessions in their Southeast L.A.-based rehearsal space, with the band allowing themselves unlimited time to explore their gloriously strange impulses. “There was no pressure and no real time constraint for this record, and because of that the creativity flowed in a very free way that probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d been on the clock in a studio,” Frankie and the Witch’s Dylan Sizemore says in press notes. “It showed us that the more we take the time to communicate and share our ideas with each other, the more it feeds our creative energy and helps us to make something we’re all really excited about.”
While showcasing the expansive and eccentric musicality of past efforts like 2020’s Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters . . ., Data Doom reportedly features nine high-wattage songs built with both dizzying intricacy and completely unfettered imagination.
Last month, I wrote about “Mild Davis,” an expansive, stream of consciousness-driven song that sees the acclaimed JOVM mainstays cycling through a whirlwind of rhythms and textures with dexterous guitar work, froggy synths and a series of mind-bending solos. Seemingly drawing from Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo-era DEVO, acid jazz freakouts, garage psych and space rock, the song is actually inspired by Miles Davis‘ early 70s electric period, “Mild Davis” — and may arguably be the one of wildest, face-melting rippers I’ve heard this year.
Data Doom‘s latest single “Futurephobic” is a Freedom of Choice-era DEVO-like ripper but around scorching power chord-driven riffs, Sizemore’s punchy delivery, buzzing synths, woozy synths and the JOVM mainstays unerring knack for crafting mosh pit friendly hooks paired with hellish, seemingly stream of consciousness lyrics that describe our endlessly online world with disgust and horror.
“The main riff was an idea we came up with during the writing process for our album Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters… but we kept it in our back pockets, as it wasn’t quite fitting in with the theme of that album,” the band explains. “When we started writing Data Doom, it reemerged very organically and everyone latched onto the idea surprisingly fast and ran with it. We expanded on the main riff and came up with the other parts and overall arrangement while writing with our new lineup in our studio in LA. The whole process went surprisingly smoothly. We added backing vocals and overdubs while on tour last year in Europe, doing all the passes to complete the song from various apart-hotels, attics in France and Amsterdam.”
Directed by Slim Reaper, the accompanying video for “Futurephobic” seems to draw from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, The Buggles‘ “Video Killed The Radio Star” and DEVO — and set in a nightmarish realm that features a mad, sadistic Ronald McDonald-like clown, who tortures a young women, while others watch eating burgers. It fits with the album’s dystopian sci-fi vibe.
The JOVM mainstays are currently in the middle of an extensive run of international tour dates at some of the biggest rooms they’ve played to date. The tour includes a September 27, 2023 stop at La Sala Rossa, one of my favorite rooms in Montréal to catch a show, and a September 30, 2023 stop at Warsaw. Check out the rest of the tour dates below. And if they’re in a town near you, you need to catch them turn a room into a sweaty, raucous and joyous mosh pit.
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS LIVE 2023
29 – Binic Folks Blues Fest – Binic, FR
8 – Palp Festival – Martigny, CH
11 – Sonic Blast Fest – Vila Praia De Âncora, PT
25 – Purple City Music Fest – Edmonton, CAN
9 – The Usual Place – Las Vegas, NV **
10 – Valley Bar – Phoenix, AZ **
11 – Love Buzz – El Paso, TX **
14 – Parish – Austin, TX **
15 – Andy’s Bar – Denton, TX **
16 – Continental Club – Houston, TX **
17 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, LA **
19 – JJs Bohemia – Chattanooga, TN
20 – The Blue Room – Nashville, TN #
21 – Terminal West – Atlanta, GA #
22 – Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC #
23 – Pour House – Charleston, SC #
25 – Black Cat – Washington, DC #
26 – Crystal Ballroom – Somerville, MA ~
27 – La Sala Rossa – Montreal, QC ~
28 – Space Ballroom – Hamden, CT ~
29 – First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia, PA ~
30 – Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY ~
2 – Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH #
3 – Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL #
4 – Miramar Theatre – Milwaukee, WI #
6 – Hi-Dive – Denver, CO #
7 – Hi-Dive – Denver, CO #
8 – Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM #
27 – Quartyard – San Diego, CA @
28 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA@ **
29 – Rickshaw Stop (Psyched! Fest) – San Francisco, CA @
31 – Rev Hall – Portland, OR @
1 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA @
3 – Catalyst Atrium – Santa Cruz, CA @
4 – SLO Brew – San Luis Obispo, CA @
** w/ Spoon Benders
# w/ Wine Lips
~ w/ Iguana Death Cult
@ w/ MONSTERWATCH