Spooky Cigarette, whose name is a facetious nudge at their frontmanʼs self proclaimed identity as a black (spook) fag (cigarette), is a New/No Wave project from San Diego, California, formed in the fall of 2015. Fronted by Frank Mindingall (Beaters, Northern Tigers, Ale Mania) and consisting of Jakob McWhinney (Space Heat, The Soaks) Skylar Eppler (Via Meteor), and Danny Gallo (formerly of Hills like Elephants), the project aims to channel the subtly decorated borders of night and day. With dirigible synths, cumulonimbus flangers, and the cool colors of pop, theyʼve already shared the stage with renowned acts such as Wild Nothing, Lower Dens, Part Time, Tijuana Panthers, Chris Cohen, Thee Commons, Grenda, Island Boy, TV Girl & Mint Field. Their debut EP, ʻAs Loud As I Canʼ is an attempt to fully realize social and sexual identity and reconcile all the time lost through inaction. It is both haunting and inviting, like writhing in chaise to find the perfect position. ʻ As Loud As I Canʼ was released in May, on cassette, through Bleeding Gold Records, and Field Trips.
“Spooky Cigarette got together last fall over a love of flangers, synths and the undulating forces that define the squiggly line between new and no wave music…Upbeat and springy but undercut by a sense of doom, “Oh Well” will keep you hopping all the way to the knife drawer.”
“Spooky Cigarette straddle a fine line between frayed no wave and arty new wave. But it’s in that confusion that the San Diego band ultimately excels, where they push forth a pleasant melodic guise even when it sounds like it’s all about to crumble at any minute. One of the tracks off of their upcoming EP As Loud as I Can, “Days in Repetend”, focuses on soft, lo-fi synth lines that are nestled in layers upon layers of reverb alongside sharply punctuated bass lines. This is all lead by singer Frank Mindingall, a compelling performer that knows how to transmit an anxious energy into his work with distinctive confidence. It doesn’t hurt that you can kind of dance to it, too!”
-The Deli Magazine, Los Angeles
“Sonically, the song (Spiritual Hypochondriac) is an eclectic mix of sound and influences. There is a noticeable new wave / no wave, Devo-esque undertone that originates from Mindingall’s visceral keys. Jakob McWhinney’s guitar shimmers with the crystalline shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, giving the song an atmospheric feel. The deep bass lines of Danny Gallo and the heart-pulsing drumming of Skylar Eppler, meanwhile, add a haunting almost dark, Gothic layer to the track a la The Cure. All the while, Mindingall’s distant vocals are reminiscent of Kele Okereke, the frontman of the celebrated Bloc Party, and it sends chills down your spine.”
-The Revue Music Blog
“A fabulous chain made up by a catchy song-writing and a vivid rhythmic chugging and tickling contemporary sonic possibilities, all of which are adeptly accomplished. It emits audible and emotional depth and splendour mixed up tightly and exuberantly. In bold, post-punk meets with psychedelic music via Ariel Pink-esque and chillwave impacts and David Lynch-ian touch. I guess The Cure might have sounded in that way if they started today… It is hard to convey the magic and bewildering touch of this 4 track issue. One of the most staggering (pop) issues I have heard in 2016 so far.”
-Recent Music Heroes
“First, anyone who names their band Spooky Cigarette is going to get mad props from this critic (can we all agree that we need to have more “spooky” things?). Better yet is when the band delivers on its name. Spooky Cigarette are a new-wave, synth-pop group who sound like they were produced in a haunted basement where the ghosts are friendly. Equal parts Future Islands and Digital Leather—with a little bit of Gary Wilson weirdness thrown in—it’s a sound that’s simultaneously catchy and unsettling.”
-San Diego Citybeat
“As Loud As I Can” is a perfect blend of synthesizers, hooky base lines and digestible guitar licks. Traces of sounds of old can be heard on the record but not imitated. A breed of its own, the record is catchy as it is fresh. The local band’s self-proclaimed homage to new wave, no wave and post-punk is all of the above but not quite. “Oh Well” is infectious, with its bouncy groove and jittery guitars. Front man Frank Mindingall delivers a message of want and need only to find indifference in the end. The track carries an essence of nervousness throughout that drives it forward with poise.
On “Spiritual Hypochondriac,” the band visits the past while facing the inevitable future, imperfection awaits and it is met here with a shaky optimism or what seems to be a hint of reluctance. The only thing lacking in this track is length, flying by at a mere two minutes and thirty-some seconds. Hit repeat. “Normal” is the highlight of this extended play. “All I want to be is normal. When I grow up I want to be normal. Have a wife and kid who also are normal. But then still I would not be normal,” sings Mindingall.
The track finds him exploring, questioning and coming to terms with his own sexual identity, which is what this whole extended play is about, the realization and acceptance of his identity. Here, the record is its most affecting, relying on its childlike honesty to deliver its message loud and clear that “normal” is not meant to be.
The record hits the mark with its overall concept. The band and Mindingall have been very open about the underlying message of the record but one only needs to take a closer look at the definition of the band name to fully understand.
The name spins around the negative connotation of “spook,” a term for African-Americans, and “fag,” a derogatory slang word for cigarettes. The band is rebranding both terms, giving them a brand new positive voice, one that’s liberating and optimistic. “As Loud As I Can” strikes all the right chords in the band’s first outing. Short, sweet and promising with plenty of room for growth, making Spooky Cigarette’s debut quite impressive.”
-San Diego City Times