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Volo Volo

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Album Review

Poi Dog Pondering was always a band better appreciated in a live context, its albums never quite capturing the excitement of the group's rock/folk/pop/world music stew. The reason is simple: like other fun jam bands such as Phish, Aquarium Rescue Unit and the like, Poi Dog never really mastered the art of writing concise, radio-friendly songs, preferring to let their tight grooves and polyrhythmic percussion beds carry the music. Unfortunately, in the case of what is, at its core, a rock band, this approach often makes for somewhat lackluster records, and Volo Volo is no exception. Interestingly, Poi Dog Pondering here seems to be attempting a move into a more pop-oriented direction, sounding at times like a bizarre meeting between Santana, the Meters, Wham!, and Simple Minds. While the group deserves an "A" for effort, without the glue of catchy songwriting to hold the disparate elements together, the mix never really works that well. In fact, the best "songs" on the album are not really songs at all, but new-agey instrumental pieces ("Endtrance" and "Entrance"). That said, there is certainly enough variety throughout to keep one's attention, from the New Orleans-style soul of "Be the One" to the stadium rock guitar wall of "Blood and Thunder." In the end though, Volo Volo is sadly a case of too much talent, not enough focus.


Formed: 1986 in Hawaii

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The eclectic worldbeat/folk-rock outfit Poi Dog Pondering were formed in Waikiki by vocalist/guitarist Frank Orrall, violinist/vocalist Susan Voelz, and multi-instrumentalist Dave "Max" Crawford, the only constants in the group's history; sometimes swelling to upwards of ten members, the band has seen numerous personnel shifts. Named in part for a Hawaiian expression meaning "mutt," Poi Dog Pondering relocated to Austin, TX, and picked up a following through extensive touring; they released two EPs,...
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Volo Volo, Poi Dog Pondering
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