Poi Dog Pondering
Everybody’s Got A Star
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2015
The mammoth collective that is Poi Dog Pondering has spent nearly three decades making music the way they want music to sound. While some groups defy genre boundaries, Poi Dog Pondering can’t even be defined by a handful of genres. Since their self-titled debut in 1989 Frank Orrall has led Poi on an impressive journey that has included jazz, soul, new wave, acoustic rock, house music and more. According to Wikipedia, the band consists of fourteen members at the time of this, their eight full length studio album, and listening to Everybody’s Got A Star there are enough influences and styles represented to believe that each of those members brings a unique element to the Poi Dog Pondering formula.
Common themes throughout this album, and most of Poi Dog Ponderings releases, come from the unique blend of instruments employed by the band. Violins, chiming percussion, acoustic guitars, electric and traditional drums, mandolin and tin whistle are some of the sounds that lend themselves to the complicated arrangement of songs like “In Comes the Night (Discotheque)” which mixes disco sounds with house percussion, soulful trumpet, acoustic guitar, hand percussion and strings. True to the title, there is an undercurrent of disco, which is prevalent among these songs. “Burnin’ Higher” has a bit of an Earth Wind And Fire meets Prince vibe. The title track offers even more disco flair. While these songs may pull from a common thread, there is little else that keeps them together aside from the band’s manic creativity.
With the kind of diversity shown on this release, it’s very difficult to pick high points. “Dream Onward Angel” is reminiscent of 90s dance club beats, and creates its own unique groove. “All Saints Ascenscion” is a laid back number that mixes jazz with the area where 80s new wave and dance music met. It’s a fusion that is energetic in a chill kind of way. Overall, Everybody’s Got A Star is best summed up by the closing track “If I Were Music.” Featuring a number of vocalists, each bringing their own flavor to the passage they lead. The line “If I were music I’d tell all the people ‘follow your heart, follow your heart…’” sums up Poi Dog Pondering’s wide, expressive approach to creating fascinating, diverse music.
Poi Dog Pondering continues to do what they do best – push the boundaries of music to make something unique. The band has few peers, or at least, few who can boast the kind of longevity and influence Poi Dog Pondering have built over the years. Everybody’s Got A Star is deep enough for longtime Poi fans to enjoy, and fluidly musical enough for the casual listener to find both relaxing and challenging. All in all, this is an album by a band who has hit its groove, and is determined to never allow that groove to dictate its sound.
Reviewed by Jim 1340