by Amanda Roscoe Mayo
Sometimes certain moments call for certain music, and soundtracks become built into our daily experience. Ola Podrida provides music for such moments, whether it’s driving through the rain, watching the sun set, or enjoying a beer on the beach. The moments that often submit to reflection are the ones most closely related to this music.
The band is the brainchild of David Wingo and has been based in Austin, TX for a good while, after a significant stint in New York City. Wingo’s first release under the moniker was a self-titled album released in 2007. The sound on that record was atmospheric Folk/Americana with Wingo’s sweet voice tumbling out of delicate guitar chords. Without spending too much time talking about his lousy day job scoring indie films, you might recognize Wingo from collaborations with David Gordon Green, Jeff Nichols, and Explosions in the Sky. The newest record from Ola Podrida, Ghosts Go Blind, came out this past April and kicked things up a notch.
If unfamiliar with Ola Podrida’s discography, a first listen of Ghosts Go Blind could sound pretty mellow, but there is a sense of urgency. Tracks such as “Speed of Light” and “Staying In” are spirited — backed by a mix of careful and persistent percussion, scintillating guitar picking and Wingo’s voice holding it all within reach. To get a sense of what this shift sounds like, look to bands like Neva Dinova, Hotel Lights, and Album Leaf. It’s easy to spot the atmosphere built by patient arrangements.
Ola Podrida is currently on tour. Before their June 13 stop at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, Wingo dove into the new album with me. He said, “This time I was really just wanting to finally make a more immediate rock record — one that I wrote with the band and tracked live in a studio, and didn’t labor so much over the background as I did with the first two… It was something I’d been itching to do for years.” The result is a more urgent sound that still somehow maintains the signature, introspective writing style that Wingo is known for.
The songs most representative of Ola Podrida’s transformed sound are “Blind to the Blues” and “Fumbling for the Light.” “Blind to the Blues” was tracked live and pretty close to complete on its first take. Wingo mentioned how fun it was to be in the studio coming up with new ideas, “It was a chance to go back to the similar creative space I was in when making the first two albums, but this time having other voices contribute to the process.”
Reflecting on the first two, very relaxed, records I wondered how the live show would take shape on this tour. Wingo said he was looking forward to letting loose on stage with the band, “Our live show right now is certainly a lot louder and more energetic than it was before. There’s a few songs on the first couple of records that really get expansive and loud live so it used to be a more relaxed, introspective set broken up with a couple of noisier songs, but now it’s sort of the reverse.” He also noted that this was what “really inspired [him] more than anything to make this record.”
There is a clarity to Ghosts Go Blind that demands its listener to be open and enjoy. Records like this are few and far between and I’m certainly glad Ola Podrida landed on this one. Read the full interview with David Wingo here.
Ola Podrida plays June 23 at Mohawk in Austin. For tickets and information, visit http://www.mohawkaustin.com.
Review by Amanda Roscoe Mayo. The former staffer at KRTS now contributes to KQED, where this review was originally published.