The Wizard and the Witch(photo: Deb Leal)

Picture a cauldron. Add eye of newt, maybe lizard’s tail, the ashes of a dying star. Oh — and the voices of Allison Kane and AJ McKinley, and also a guitar or two. Out comes the new two-headed single “Headfirst (For Better Or Worse).”

Though the two musicians have played together in a variety of projects for a number of years, the Witch and the Wizard is the first recorded outing that features exclusively Allison Kane (Vanwave) and AJ McKinley (Battlehooch, Kendra McKinley, Roem Bauer).

Opening with a pair of guitars — one acoustic, one palm-muted electric, the song warmly swirls through kaleidoscopic chord changes, slowly picking up in energy but never quite erupting. When asked about the lyrics to “Headfirst,” McKinley says the song is about “the dull anxiety that comes right before you do a drastic action — the unnerving realization when you truly realize that great failure is just as possible as great victory.”

Their collective sound is hooky, compelling, and tender. “Headfirst (For Better or Worse)” lands somewhere between a spacey interpretation of Les Paul & Mary Ford’s vocal/guitar gymnastics, an indie-rock dreamscape found in one of Broken Social Scene‘s acoustic songs, and the serpentine melodics for which (or witch — ha!) Battlehooch is known.

Catch the Witch and the Wizard at Pianofight in San Francisco, where they’ll be doing a biweekly residency (second and fourth Wednesdays) from August through November.

The Witch and the Wizard
August 14th, 28th, and beyond