Frankie and the Pool Boys
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Frankie and the Pool Boys

San Francisco, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | INDIE

San Francisco, CA | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2009
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"Frankie and the Pool Boys release Spin the Bottle"

Frankie and the Pool Boys are still allowed to be a called a supergroup (because they’re super!), but I think they’re done being a side project. For one, they’re a band now -- a core group of members playing on every song instead of a hodgepodge gang of guest artists. And at three LPs they’re starting to rival or exceed the output of some of the bands their members were known for.

Despite slashing the guest list, this still sounds very much like a Frankie and the Pool Boys album. It’s got plenty of diversity, but also that super light-hearted playful feel that always managed to shine through on previous records. Give “Kill Devil Club” a listen and you’ll hear some jumpy piano that’ll make you wanna juke. And of course the title track features whimsical keyboard and brass that’ll bring a smile to your face (as the title and the cover do).

However, don’t confuse “light-hearted” with laid-back or loungey. “The Wet Season” is a rip & run surf track that’ll please the adrenaline junkies and “Tan Line Fever” is a great trad attempt retaining some of that power and teenage spirit. And there’s a track called “Fast Loud Hard” that manages all of those while still never quite getting mean.

There are four vocal tracks that are genuinely a lot of fun but, knowing their audience, they shoved off into the last four tracks.

It’s hard not to like this album. It’s glowingly happy without overdoing it and sounding like kids’ music and at 20 solid tracks they sure weren't skimpin'. I’ve always thought their name was apt, great pool party stuff and right in time for the summer. Hopefully listeners will benefit from spinning the bottle too.

This is a Double Crown release though also up on bandcamp for the cyber-listener. I really loved this extended liner note PDF that Double Crown has up. Though I absolutely adore this cover art and I think they made the right choice, they passed on two other options that would have still been great!

Also I haven’t written anything up on it because I haven’t gotten around to getting myself a copy, but you oughta know about the 7” Ewa on the Beach/Tan Line Fever that Hi-Tide put out. - Storm Surge of Reverb


"Review of Spin the Bottle"

Raleigh Fontaine
August 15
Instro/Surf music has two sides, neither exclusive. One side is The Thunder. These are the bands that are the musical descendants of Dick Dale. Think, The Madeira, The Nebulas, Team Void and Genki Genki Panic. The other side is The Atmospheric, bands that hew closer to melody like The Ventures and The Shadows. Most surf bands take from both sides of the tradition. Some bands own the whole road,
Ferenc Dobronyi has created a masterpiece that crosses the lines, and that’s a very good thing. Leader of the Pollo Del Mar and The Tomorrowmen, Dobronyi has taken time out to work with another of his bands, Frankie and the Pool Boys, to record Spin the Bottle. The twenty tracks are a tour of the breadth of Instro/Surf, hitting rockers, twang, romance and exotica without making it seem like a mere history lesson. It’s as fresh as a morning breeze off a summer beach.
There are cuts here to satisfy the hard rocker with Poser, Smoke Jumper, El Valenciano. Each of these are asphalt ready for cruising. Fast Loud Hard lives up to its name.
Tan Line Fever uses drip to perfect musical effect before changing gears to the electric organ. Seafoam Angels invokes a Shadows feel, with Ferenc’s technical ferocity on display. The Wet Season and Summer Cold could both work behind a Sixties thriller movie montage, the later for the heartbreaking romantic interlude.
The writing and playing are all top notch. What sets Spin the Bottle apart is the quality of the arrangements. There are other bands who bring an encyclopedic taste to play. Rondo Hatton is a good example. But Ferenc Dobronyi has managed to work something fine and sophisticated in this release. In 2016, Mark Fontana of the Blue Hawaiians worked similar magic on Wonderlux Presents Christmas Eve, where, it too, was a showcase of the arranger’s art. Fontana’s work was exceptional. Dobronyi hits high marks on Spin the Bottle, managing to channel a host of influences, but never indulging in parody or simple mimicry. Even the vocals work. Any one of them sound like they could have been Top 40 hits in the Sixties or Seventies.
What Dobronyi has really done is make a jukebox of modern Instro/Surf. You could sit down and listen to this straight through for an immersive experience, or put it on shuffle in the background of an afternoon barbeque. It would work equally well both times. It is rare when an album is created to work on so many different levels.
You don’t need luck. Spin the Bottle is a winner.
Mahalo -


"Ivan Pongracic reviews "Spin the Bottle""

SUCH great reviews by all, and I especially enjoyed Lorenzo's, even was quite amused by some parts of it, said as only Lorenzo can Smile , but I think he completely nailed it. I also agree with Dave Arnson, the CD hasn't left my player in weeks, since I got it more than a month ago, and I've listened to it almost every day.

Here's the short version of my review, just read this paragraph if you don’t have the patience for in my verbosity: it's Ferenc's best work to date, a true masterpiece, and my favorite surf album in years! At the center are the well-crafted and compelling songs which are also often surprising in the best ways possible, showing it is possible to STILL do something creative and new in this nearly-60-year-old genre. The musicianship by everybody involved is extremely high, all the songs expertly performed. The production is dead-on, clear-but-warm, with a lot of small touches and details which keep the songs interesting and surprising long past becoming familiar with them - there's always something new to hear if you pay attention. It’s deep music but it doesn’t require deep listening to enjoy – though it certainly rewards it! It's an album that has a vibe and attitude and confidence which I think is rare - it knows it's a TON OF FUN and that if you give it a chance, you'll almost certainly fall in love with it!

Ferenc and I have been friends and even occasional collaborators for many years (twenty, I believe!), and that is not an accident. I have an enormous amount of respect for him. He always delivers. Every time he does something new it shatters my expectations and shows him to be a truly talented musician. So, I definitely am biased when it comes to his work, no question about it, but I think I'm biased for the best reason of all: I already know him to be an exceptionally creative person whom I admire a great deal, so my expectations are always high.

At the center of the album is Ferenc’s guitar playing which just keeps getting better with every new release. It has always been great, but he still continues to find a way to improve it! It is particularly full of fire and passion this time around, with a guitar tone has never sounded better - sometimes crunchy and aggressive, other times beautifully clean-yet-complex, with a lot of detail and warmth. (It must be the new brownface Bandmaster that he got at the SG101 Convention a couple of years ago from Danny Snyder. What a sound!) One remarkable thing about his playing on this album is that over the years he’s developed an uncanny ability to sound like a steel guitar, using the Strat’s tremolo arm. He’s really become an expert in that technique – which of course was Leo Fender’s original idea when designing the Strat’s vibrato/tremolo system in the first place, to allow the player to emulate steel guitar (which was highly popular in the early ’50s). Ferenc has done astoundingly well with that technique, and it’s not one I hear very often, so truly well done, my friend, very impressive!

I gotta also shower with kudos Jonathan on drums and Abe on bass, the rhythm section of the Deadbeats who have now also become the Pool Boys, and both sound amazing, like real pros, belying their young age. Abe is often playing lines that one would expect from a much more mature and experienced musician, and Jonathan sounds positively Dusty-like in many places of the album. They don’t only provide the solidity to the album, but lot of its fire, too, a remarkable feat!

Karen on the organ (and occasional piano) and Jono (formerly of Pollo Del Mar) on rhythm guitar are both highly competent and dependable, and play their parts with precision one would again expect from highly seasoned pros. Karen in particular shines in many places of the album, often trading leads with Ferenc or sometimes even taking over the lead completely! Both Karen and Jono are also very tasty players, as well, and know when to lay back and just support the song rather than vie for attention.

If I start seriously dissecting this album, I could write a short book - but I’m quite sure NOBODY wants that! Smile So, let me just mention a few of my favorites:
“Seafoam Angels” is grand and uplifting, and effectively sets the mood for the entire album (and what a fantastic title, love it!).

“El Valenciana” is a fantastic, Latino/Hispanic-influenced song with exceptional playing by everybody. It features a highly dynamic guitar performance, some of my favorite playing by Ferenc ever! (Though, I gotta say that the drum part played by Jonathan reminds me more than a bit of the drum part played by the Madeira’s Dane Carter on our song Sahar. Coincidence? Hmmm… Smile )

“Magic River” – I love the choice of the cover (one of the two covers on the album) of this obscure Surf Coasters song. Surprising and unexpected, but absolutely perfect for the band. It comes from the “L’esprit” album from 2002, one of the two ‘organ’ albums by the Surf Coasters, and it gives a chance to Karen to shine playing the upbeat melody over a groovy Bo Diddley beat. Ferenc gets to revisit the main guitar hook from his classic “Ewa on the Beach” song in the bridge of this song, which is a very nice touch. This really is a fantastic song, but one that only the most hardcore Surf Coasters fans would know (which Ferenc certainly is!), making it so much cooler!

“The Wet Season” is my absolute favorite song from the album, its ‘pièce de résistance’, and in fact, one of my favorite new surf songs in years! It’s an incredibly dynamic song, with Ferenc’s possibly best-ever guitar playing (LOVE all the open-string pull-offs!), featuring a super-fat and yet sharp-and-cutting guitar tone that just exudes confidence and attitude. It actually reminds me a bit of some of the great songs from the classic “Searider” album from 2008 by the Swedish surf band the Barbwires, one of the all-time-great surf albums, as far as I’m concerned, certainly of the modern era. There’s a sense of epic scale and grand proportion with this song which matches or even outdoes the Barbwires. It also features one of the best bridges in a surf song I’ve heard in a long time. It really opens up the song, lifting it to the next level, reaching transcendence! Too few surf musicians exploit this songwriting device, as far as I’m concerned, but I personally think bridges are extremely valuable to keep a song dynamic and interesting. And Ferenc absolutely nails it here, it is just perfect. The song is also filled with many little details that make it so much fun to listen to, even if you’re not paying very close attention, you can still just pick it out ‘out of the corner of your ear’! I love the bits of feedback in the song; the wah-wah which works so incredibly well (I never would have expected that!) and which gives it a bit of that ‘70s-crime-movie feel; and then the final verse with the double-picked call-and-response guitars which eventually join into a cool harmony as the rhythm becomes increasingly syncopated, building towards a climax, with finally the lead guitar going off the fretboard, climbing higher and higher – what a perfect, even inspired touch! So, so great overall! Immortality earned, Ferenc (though you already got there with a few previous songs)!

“Summer cold” is an evocative, gorgeous ballad with ingenious playing by Ferenc. On the first few casual listens I honestly thought Ferenc had a guest player playing steel guitar, until I listened more closely and realized that it’s actually him making highly effective use of that Strat tremolo arm! So, so beautiful!

“Fast Loud Hard” is a hard-rockin’, even punky, tune which seems to have been influenced by the Surf Coasters. The beat, the guitar licks, the guitar tone, the overall energy and vibe, all scream the Surf Coasters to my ear – and the band completely does them justice, which is a pretty amazing thing if you know anything about the Surf Coasters!

“Tan Line Fever” is the most trad-surf song on the album, and is just SO much fun, a total blast! It really was the perfect choice for the flip-side of the “Ewa on the Beach” single recently put out by Hi-Tide Recordings. It features the signature Astronauts beat, their ‘booch’ rhythm guitar, and the lead guitar part played in their the muted single-line style, with wet reverb splashing all over the place! It also has a melancholy feel that surf music often so effectively turns into something upbeat and uplifting. But despite being traditional-sounding, it’s still completely unique, exuding Ferenc’s personality! Even when he’s trying to sound traditional, he still ends up sounding like himself, and that’s actually a GREAT thing!

“San Quixote” sounds to my ears as a bit of a tribute to Insect Surfers. I believe Ferenc has been quite open in the past about Insect Surfers being a big influence on him, especially back in the Pollo Del Mar days (for example see their great song “Insectide”). I hear some of the same vibe and similarity of approach to lead guitar, the chord progression and the rhythm, to what I’m used to hearing on Insect Surfers records. And it’s a freakin’ KILLER tune – as are the next two, “Raise Hell”, another extremely pretty melancholy-but-happy quasi-ballad, and the sheer fun and energy blast of “Pool Boy Stomp”!! But then, I really think ALL the songs are killer, there’s no weak moment on this amazing album! It ends with the four bonus vocal versions of the songs which are a ton fun, but my heart lies with the instrumentals, so I better bring this review to a close. I’ve run out adjectives, anyway! A truly amazing job, Ferenc and the Pool Boys (and Girl)!! -


Discography

Albums
Spin the bottle - Double Crown Records 2018
The Adventures of Cap'n Coconuts - Double Crown Records 2013
Frankie and the Pool boys - Double Crown Records 2008

Single
Ewa on the Beach / Tan Line Fever - Hi-Tide Recordings 2018

Compilations
Rumble at Waikiki - The John Blair Anthology - Bear Family (Germany) 2018
Seasonal Favorites Vol. - Double Crown Records 4 2016
Battle of the Surf Bands VII - KFJC 2015
Combo Swell - KFJC 2014
Seasonal Favorites Vol. - Double Crown Records 4 2014
The Sixth Battle of the Surf Bands - KFJC 2013
Seasonal Favorites Vol. - Double Crown Records 2 2011
Brave New Surf - Double Crown Records 2011
Shake the Shack Volume 7 - KEXP Radio 2011
KFOG Local Scene 8 - KFOG 2011
KFJC Battle of the Surf Bands 5 - KFJC 2011
Lemme Take You To The Beach - Cordelia Records (UK) 2004

Photos

Bio

Frankie and the Pool Boys have become one of the most respected and well known bands of Surf Music’s “Third Wave”. The summer of 2018 will be their busiest ever with the release of their third album, a 7” single, a European tour, headlining the first night of the Surfer Joe Festival in Italy, and featured performances at the SurfGuitar 101 Con in Anaheim, CA and the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival in New Jersey.

The Pool Boys got together in 2007 as an offshoot project of San Francisco’s legendary progressive surf band, Pollo Del Mar. Leader Ferenc Dobronyi wanted to focus on more accessible, danceable music. The early membership drew the best players of S.F.’s surf music scene, before solidifying into it’s current lineup in 2014. Dobronyi remains the band leader and chief songwriter with Jono Jones (Pollo Del Mar) on guitar, Karen Dobronyi (Meshugga Beach Party) on keyboards, and Abraham Aguilar and Jonathan Rodriguez (both of The Deadbeats) on bass and drums.

“Spin the Bottle” is the Pool Boys third album released on Double Crown Records; it features 14 new originals, two cover songs, and as a bonus, four vocal versions for the folks who need lyrics to tell them how to feel. But seriously, the vocal version are there in an attempt to garner some radio airplay, which generally only uses instrumentals as bed music for the DJ to talk over. The album was produced by Dusty Watson, drummer for The Sonics, Dick Dale, Agent Orange and so many more. The album is filled with musical variety, with fast and slow tempos, trad style to moderne, some rippers an some goofy shit. The vocal version of “Spin the Bottle” is featured on Little Steven’s Underground Radio on Sirius XM.

Also available this summer, Hi­Tide Recordings released a vinyl 7” single of “Ewa on the Beach”, a song from the Pool Boys 2007 album. Why now, some 11 years later? Because “Ewa on the Beach” has been deemed a  “modern surf classic”, and has been voted the #3 modern surf song by the listeners of North Sea Surf Radio, and has found it’s way on multiple compilations. On the B­-side is the ultra­trad “Tan Line Fever”.

The Spin the Bottle Summer 2018 tour starts with 14 shows in German and Italy, anchored by the opening night headlining slot at The Surfer Joe Festival in Livorno, Italy. This is the Pool Boys second European tour. Upo return to the US, the Pool Boys are booked for the Rio Nido Surf Festival (NorCal), The Int’l Surf Classic (San Jose) and the SurfGuitar 101 Con (Anaheim, next to Disneyland). In August they make their East Coast premier at the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival in New Jersey, and in the fall they open for The Ventures in Berkeley before traveling up the West Coast to Portland, Seattle and beyond.

Band Members