Ola Podrida - Ola Podrida
When I saw Explosions in the Sky in April of 2008, Ola Podrida opened up with a modest set, where acoustic guitars screeched to a mostly uninterested crowd. But I was impressed. Ola Podrida's elegantly somber sound was moving, with their effortless layering of guitars, playing over M. Ward-like vocals. For a moment, they took me away from the nervous anticipation for Explosions in the Sky's set, and even as I left that night, I had lead singer David Wingo's melodies humming in my head.
Fortunately, Ola Podrida's live show was an indication to how their self-titled full-length, Ola Podrida, would play out. "The New Science" begins with slow acoustic plucking until Wingo's voice quietly emerges, bleeding into the song's melody, while an organ hums a ruminative drone, adding a layer of atmosphere into the acoustic narrative. "Jordanna" follows "Science" with an even slower, more somber acoustic guitar riff, which gracefully intensifies until Wingo makes the fervent exclamation, "Some folks just don't give a damn / Whether they're coming or going," followed by the powerfully melancholic repetition of "Jordanna" to close the song. Songs like "Cindy" have the same build up: slow, somber beginning leading to a crescendo-but it is effective, as Ola Podrida occasionally add bursts of electric guitar to brighten their sound.
Wingo's lyricism also impresses on songs like "Day at the Beach," where he creates the nostalgic reflections of a young boy treading in the water, "In the waves like a five-year-old / Timing my jumps with the rowing tide." His writing on Ola Podrida is pensive, reflective, humorous, and very telling; it is no surprise Wingo was formerly a director. Wingo knew exactly where he wanted his songs to be taken on his first album, allowing his majestic imagery to direct his minimalist song-structures-creating songs of comforting beauty.
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