Poi Dog Pondering

The Best of the Austin Years (Sony Legacy)

Phases and Stages

Poi Dog Pondering

The Best of the Austin Years (Sony Legacy)

Since their Hawaiian genesis two decades ago, Poi Dog Pondering's had one goal: to make "soul-buoyant" music. Mission accomplished. After busking through the mainland in the late Eighties, the multihued acoustic orchestra settled in Austin. Columbia put out the group's first three LPs – their eponymous debut, Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea, and Volo Volo – before the label deal soured and the major-key collective moved to Chicago in 1992. Poi's lineup and instrumentation have since changed, but they remain vibrant, recently besting some Windy City attendance records. The Austin Years aims to capture Poi's springtime, their bubbling optimism energized by River City's deep well of talent (Adam Sultan, Abra Moore, et al.). Many early hits appear: "The Watermelon Song," New Order's "Love Vigilantes," and "Get Me On," and they hold up well over time. Yet record label mismanagement exists in the previously unreleased mixes of "Everybody's Trying" and "Bury Me Deep," which are virtually indistinguishable from their earlier incarnations. And where's "Lackluster," which, along with several band members, made its debut in Slacker? Poi's Austin tenure: fine idea, pale execution.

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