Frankie & the Witch Fingers Credit: David Evanko

I have to admit, when I learn about a new band with a name like “Mr. Something & the Silly Somethings,” I tend to want to run away. More often than not, they’re a one-dimensional garage or punk rock group, and even if they find a home on a Burger Records cassette, they’ll never be heard from again. Even Tommy James & the Shondells, as commercially oriented as they were, did better than that back in the 60s: they tackled garage, frat rock, psychedelia, dreamy folk, and pure pop. But my cynicism about modern rockers with goofy retro names was defeated by Frankie & the Witch Fingers, who emerged out of California in 2013 with their debut album, Sidewalk. When I caught the band last year, they were firing on all cylinders, playing intricate but pummeling rock ’n’ roll that’s definitely not indebted to any one genre. The experience actually gave me visions of late-60s bands such as the MC5, Public Nuisance, and the Pretty Things, who straddled garage rock and something heavier, louder, and more complicated. I guess these days that “genre” might be described as proto-punk or proto-metal, but no matter what it’s called, it made room for wah-wah pedals, funky rhythms, delay-treated atmospherics, tricky meter changes, and distorted vocals. All these elements are clear and present on Frankie & the Witch Fingers’ fifth release, last year’s Zam. “Dracula Drug” and “Underneath You” stretch out to nearly ten minutes, giving the band plenty of time to simmer before walloping you in the noggin with their Motor City-style chunky riffage and searing leads—and dang it, the choruses are so catchy they get stuck in said noggin too. “Dark Sorcerer” and “Pleasure” burrow into your brain via another route—they could’ve been underground “turntable hits” back in the day, dressed in blazing wah abuse and sometimes streams of electronic bloops and bleeps. These rowdy boys seem to have gotten freakier yet more refined and multifaceted with every release, so make sure to catch them in their stage-scorching glory before they replace it with whatever the next phase in their incendiary and unconventional rock ’n’ roll evolution might be.   v