Poolside at the Flamingo effortlessly shifts between the rabbit mode of grindcore blastbeats and turtle mode of brutal slamming breakdowns with more precision than most bands in either lane.

Release date: May 22, 2024 | Blood Blast Distribution | Facebook | Instagram

It’s completely forgivable if you thought that Poolside at the Flamingo was a new band. They’ve had a few extended periods of inactivity, but they have actually been around for almost 20 years now. Poolside at the Flamingo harkens back to the original MySpace grind of the early 2000’s. Bands with long weird names like Arsonists Get All the Girls, The Sawtooth Grin, See You Next Tuesday, and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – the latter two of which Poolside actually played with quite a bit back in the day. MySpace grind song titles were even longer and weirder than their band names, if you can imagine it, and in hindsight they were fairly cringy and often pretty misogynistic… although given the purposefully offensive grindcore roots of the genre, the problematic past is not entirely unexpected.

You see kids, the MySpace era was a wild and magical time. At the dawn of social media there was a wonderful place where you could interact directly with bands and listen to their music all right on their MySpace page. The site was not without its problems, but this was the one thing MySpace absolutely got right which has never been properly replicated. Nowadays you might be able to interact directly with a band on Instagram or Facebook, but you’re still going to have to go somewhere else to actually hear their music. Likewise, if you happen upon a band you like on Bandcamp or Spotify, you then have to hunt them down on socials to follow them.

I can still remember way back in 2006 when Poolside at the Flamingo dropped their debut album This Will End Badly. At the time, they hooked me with their unusual band name, an obscure Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference, and their completely unhinged sonic attack. They were a perfect fit for the music I was into at the time, bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Heavy Heavy Low Low, and War from a Harlots Mouth. Pretty much anything chaotic, loud, and angry – especially projects that shift dramatically between genres with abrupt time signature changeups. More recently, This Will End Badly was reissued by Zegema Beach Records on cassette which rekindled my interest in the band. Poolside also put out an EP last year following their second (or maybe it’s their third) resurgence now as a band.

Their latest effort, Accabadora, continues further down the path Poolside set out on with their last EP. “Accabadora” begins with all of the intense blastbeats, growls, screams, sweeping guitar lines, distorted open chugs, and biting pinch harmonics you’d expect from this kaleidoscopic genre space. And that’s all in the first minute! Then after vocalist Scotty Bohnen screams ‘Squeal like a fucking pig!’, any other band would dive directly into another blistering frenzied assault. Instead, Poolside does basically the exact opposite, slowing everything down with a glacial punishing breakdown. This right here is the distinctive magic of Poolside at the Flamingo. Plenty of bands play hyper fast and plenty slow things down to a doomy crawl. Few do both and, for my money, nobody transitions between the two as distinctively as Poolside. Just when you think they’re gonna zig they breakdown and right when you think they’re gonna zag here come the blastbeats.

This is, in fact, the essence of the MySpace grind sound: unpredictability. The drums on the first half of “Hell on Earth” sound like they’re ushering in well… hell on earth. Then the second half slows down with Cookie Monster orf orf’s and demonic pig squeals. “Seething” pummels at first, cuts to a groovy sludge, slows even further down with a scorching breakdown, only to speed it all back up again with cutting guitar riffs and crushing drum buildup. Poolside at the Flamingo is the sonic equivalent of that amusement park operator who is constantly shifting the speed lever on the ride to terrifying effect.

A funny thing happened to the band members in the intervening years since their initial formation: they got older and had families – something they’ve playfully embraced on their Bandcamp description: Poolside at the Flamingo is proud to provide safe, fun, deathgrind that the whole family can enjoy.’ Just take a look at their adorable music video for “Accabadora”.

Yes, like fine wine or a stinky cheese, Poolside has certainly matured with age. Their sound and overall approach to songwriting have grown up with them. Gone are the ridiculous lengthy titles and 45-second songs. Gone, too, are the bathtubs full of blood and oversized scripted band logos of old album covers. Say goodbye to the pervasive samples and movie sound clips. Poolside has tastefully updated their old style with more modern influences such as END, Wormrot, and Knocked Loose. There are still all manner of breakdowns and blastbeats to be had on Accabadora, but they’ve cut some of the unnecessary distractions and silliness.

Interestingly, Accabadora does actually have a few sounds subtly hidden within. Almost every song ends with some kind of outro or a few seconds of near silence offering clear demarcations between the waves of noise. The howling wind sounds at the end of “Accabadora” are from Evil Dead and then there’s the ridiculous Shining-esque ending of “Hell on Earth” that closes the EP out on a playful note. There are a few lighter moments like this throughout Accabadora such as the cheeky line, ‘Angry angry crazy now’ grunted on “Seething”. Poolside left room to have a little fun along the way as they tighten up their sound and production.

Even just between this EP and the one from last year, Poolside has shown some growth and development. Accabadora is a very well thought out and deliberately presented offering from a band who, by their own admission, has been known to be a bit slapstick and lackadaisical in the past. Whether this is a special effort made just for this EP or an overall change going forward remains to be seen, but Accabadora proves Poolside at the Flamingo can definitely be taken seriously and, with a bit of polish, the old MySpace sound cleans up real nice.

You can order a physical copy of Accabadora on CD directly from the band.

If Poolside at the Flamingo is new to you and you’re still hungry for more after devouring this short but sweet EP be sure to check out their back catalog – especially their first album This Will End Badly. It really is a unique document of a very special time in extreme music.

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