The lively and talented singer/songwriter, guitarist/producer Frank McGinnis is back without ever having gone anywhere. In the years since his power pop/emo/modern rock trio Frankie and His Fingers flat out ruled the regional DIY scene and beyond (with the Fingers resurfacing in Battle Ave. and a number of other good bands), McGinnis released a record (Time Travels), wrote and produced a fully credible rock musical and dropped a warped, elliptical EP of moody electro-art song under the alias American Film History (reviewed in these pages). Those, apparently, were Frank’s down years, which is not the title of a Tom Waits album.
With Frank McGinnis & the Whim, the Frankie in question is owning both his full name and his full ambition. Rolling up on the black age of 30 in the post-music-industry era of the music industry, McGinnis is rather unabashedly (and why should he abash?) ramping up for a bid, no doubt leveraging wisdom gained from all the mistakes he made the first three times around. There’s an EP in the can. I have snuck my peek, and it is really excellent, but the warning shot of McGinnis’ re-energized re-entrance is a non-EP single called “Other People’s Houses” and a spate of shows to introduce his new ensemble and some of the new material.
On “Other People’s Houses,” Frank McGinnis & the perhaps ironically named Whim positively nail a buoyant, mildly funky ’80s electro-pop sensibility, one that actually reaches back to the ’70s for a touch of the yacht. One hears the crisp FM-synthesis jangle of McDonald-era Doobie Brothers and echoes of our own high lama of the form, Robbie Dupree. The only period anomaly is a certain gelatinous, pitch-queasy warble in the keyboard sound (backed up in the vibrato of the fretless bass) that would have made the Doobies think their kit was broken. It marks the song as a contemporary affair, one that subscribes to the modern indie axiom of sweetness offset: for every ounce a sweet, a gesture of sonic distress and alienation.
“Other People’s Houses” is retro pop that is at least 75 percent unironic and not that far out of step with the cultural theory masking as glitz pop that landed HAIM a support slot on a Katy Perry tour (and that left many eight-year-olds scratching their heads in ways that may finally pay off in grad school). May Frank McGinnis & the Whim pull the wool so successfully! Dude is certainly up to it, but we’ve always known that.
Alas, “Other People’s Houses” is not yet available for your ears as Frank and his people continue to shop it, but it is a delight that awaits you. You won’t have to wait to catch it live, as Frank McGinnis & the Whim headline a night of music at BSP in Kingston on Friday, June 17. Also on the bill are Bobby Pharaoh and Slow Loris. Admission is $6 at the door, and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. BSP is located at 323 Wall Street in Kingston. For more information, visit www.bspkingston.com. For more on Frank McGinnis & the Whim, visit http://frankmcginnisandthewhim.bandcamp.com.
Frank McGinnis & the Whim with Bobby Pharaoh and Slow Loris, Friday, June 17, 8:30, $6, BSP, 323 Wall Street, Kingston, www.bspkingston.com.