released March 11, 2016
"The music of moody surf punkers Genki Genki Panic is dark and filled with shadowy crevices and ragged nooks. It has an air of danger hanging above its head, thanks in no small part to the band's fascination with horror movies. Their songs are tinged with tremulous melodies and dense instrumentation that nevertheless feels light on its feet, moving from one rhythmic moment to the next without slowing down for a second. They've repeatedly demonstrated their ability to meld disparate genres into a curiously affecting and wonderfully atmospheric whole.
For their upcoming EP, "Spooky Finger," which comes out in March, the band doubled down on the sense of foreboding and created something incredibly distinct while appealing to a communal sense of musical commonality. And nowhere is this more evident than on "Werewolf by Night," one of the new songs from the EP. Imagine if The Ventures got worked up on mescaline and binged on classic horror movies, and you'd have a fair idea of what to expect. The band lays on the darkness and creepy vibes in a way that's conducive to their sound and isn't merely a fleeting spectacle that takes away from the music."
"It feels like I’ve written a lot about Genki Genki Panic in the last year, and I have, but then the boys have been producing a lot of content and each new entry is, in the words of the band, totally kick-ass. Their latest album, Spooky Fingers, is scheduled for release on March 12th, and while the five song EP isn’t necessarily a departure for the group, it is, in its way, stretching into new territory.
New territory or not, the first thing you’ll notice is that the band has returned to its original lineup of señors Chancho, Larde, and Fatsquatch (this, after a brief flirtation with some additional members.) Life as a power trio really seems to work best for the boys in masks and is probably truer to their style anyway.
So what’s new and different about this EP? Chancho says that it was influenced more by soundtracks than anything they’ve done before and that is readily apparent, although not in a derivative way.
Personally, I can’t hear any other soundtrack in this music, but the collection itself sounds like a soundtrack, and a really, really great one. It’s like a soundtrack in the best way, like Until the End of the World was a soundtrack (one of the very best of the nineties) or virtually anything Trevor Jones has ever done.
That isn’t to say one can’t hear influences. The quasi-middle eastern vibe of “Werewolf by Night” is most assuredly a nod to the great Korla Pandit (find Pandit’s early performance of “Miserlou” on YouTube if you want to see where Prince got his act.)
Chancho cites Vic Mizzy as an influence. Oddly, Mizzy is best known for composing the Addams Family theme, while track two (“Two Girls, One Casket”) is strongly reminiscent of the Munsters theme by Jack Marshall. To take the weirdness full circle, the Munsters theme was originally described as Bernard Herrman-meets-Duane Eddy—Bernard Herrman being another prominent influence on this EP.
“Desecration” has an unmistakable (though I’d wager unintentional) Pink Floyd theme, if Pink Floyd were a rockabilly/surf band. “Phantom III 37” opens in a furious Dick Dale flurry of notes only to take a left turn at the 45 second mark, venturing in to a dreamier Twilight Zone (the TV show) direction. Speaking of Twilight Zone, “When Bats Cry,” is pure Twilight Zone/Outer Limit, the best creepy television music you’ve ever heard.
It’s difficult to put a specific label on this music, although the boys listing Martin Denny as an influence suggests “exotica” as a descriptor. Trouble is, it’s hard to say exactly what in the hell exotica is without hearing it first.
Perhaps it falls under the same category as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography, “I know it when I see it,” but whatever the case, Genki Genki Panic already has a reputation for producing solid, creepy, entertaining horror-themed instrumentals.
This latest addition to their catalog broadens those horizons a little oddly by making it all a tad more ambiguous. It could be horror, but it could be sci-fi, or avante garde or just general weirdness. If Vincent Price, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King were to have a party, this is the music they would play.
It’s an impressive new disc from an already impressive band that keeps getting better and better in a fiendishly short span of time.
Destined to become the “must have” disc for every budding mad scientist and assorted weirdoes everywhere, Spooky Fingers is my favorite GGP release to date."
While I think it has gotten better in the 2010s, I think it's understated how often poor sound engineering has held back an otherwise decent surf record. What we have here is the opposite story. Genki Genki Panic's previous releases weren't hampered by their production, but "Spooky Fingers" makes an amazing impression in an instant, setting a brand new idea of what this band is about.
Genki Genki Panic aren't the first horror surf band out there, and plenty have scronked out a fuzzy zombie-shuffle dirge. That familiar pattern and melody is still at the heart of, for instance, "Desecration", but there's such a gigantic wall of sound coming from that bass guitar that instead of just the zombie, we get the smoky nighttime scene as well. Buried in there subtle howls (I honestly can't even tell if they're keys or vox or what) adding a whole new level of cinematic flair. Sublety goes a long way, and I'd take this simple effect over the now-traditional method of a horror movie sound-clip.
This change isn't just a matter of dumping on tons of reverb (but it works wonders!), they've retooled their songwriting as well. They list The Ghastly Ones, Vic Mizzy, Danny Elfman, John Carpenter, and Ennio Morricone as influences on this one, and though I do feel a Carpenter sense of dread coming through, the off-kilter percussion of Danny Elfman is immediately apparent on "Phantom III '37". It's actually less goofy than Elfman, and totally nails the creepy, unknown vibe.
All of this and I forgot to talk about the damn guitar. Do I even need to? The 30 foot-tall monster it embodies makes itself apparent within the first few seconds of the record. It's absolutely violent, on the opener, frantic on "Two Girls, One Casket", and strange and dangerous on "When Bats Cry".
If it's not clear, Genki Genki Panic have outdone themselves to a stunning extent and perhaps even issued a challenge to a lot of horror surf musicians out there.
"...The last time around Genki Genki Panic was going full bore, hard charging surf rock creep-outs. But in a fun way. This time around the whole thing is darker and more sinister. The opening track sounds less The Trashmen and more 45 Grave than what the band has previously lead on to. In fact, the whole record has a distinct late 70s/early 80's post punk sheen to it, mixed with some Orange County early punk dirt. Like, less about the good time, and more about slashing the tires of whatever kook dropped in on your local shore break (is that a thing? I saw Point Break a bunch of times, and that seemed like a thing). Surf rock is still the basis, but this e.p. layers in a lot more than just reverb and hot rod references. They work in an atmosphere of swampy dread that skews more cinematic than kitsch. The snaking guitar lines are augmented with waves of synth and skittering drums.
I liked their Ghoulie High Harmony record, but this one is head and shoulders beyond that one. Only five songs, but they all smoke, and never once overstay their welcome. This will be perfect to soundtrack your next haunted house, so long as your smoke machines are on blast, you got a few extra strobe lights around, and your party punch is straight Mr. Bostons with a ground Adderall floater.
Highly recommended." -Gray SGM
"Opener “werewolf by night” sounds like something straight out of a Tim Burton or Ed Wood film...The song careens like a spooky car chase around a jagged mountain top in the fog...“two girls one casket” and it starts with some thunder before jumping right into a solid scooby doo chase scene groove. that is no slight either, this is absolutely potent stuff. Everything seems very loose, yet deliberate. This song could fit right in on the soundtrack to scooby doo or any horror film from the 60’s, yet is interesting enough to hold your attention despite lacking vocals...desecration” is next and it brings down the speed to a creepy crawl with lots of reverb ...the song has sense of dread to it that i like very much...like something from one of those 60’s spy shows, like AVENGERS, or James Bond, etc...“When Bats Cry”...This song is the perfect summation of the rest of the ep. This song jells so well, i had to listen to it thrice to catch everything that was going on. It’s spooky without being too cheesy or too serious. it’s the perfect song for this genre...Overall this is great ep, everything you could ask for in this genre of music. So if you’re a fan of horror-punk, vintage TV soundtracks, and all things spooky be sure to pick this album up." -Overall 8.5/10