Ola Podrida: Ola Podrida
Plug Research

Anyone who thinks ‘Plug Research' is synonymous with the sleek techno of John Tejada or the infectious electropop of James Figurine may be shocked by David Wingo's Ola Podrida. Though Wingo composed the film scores for David Gordon Green's George Washington and All the Real Girls, the eleven acoustic folk songs on this album aren't terribly cinematic on sonic grounds; however, they are so in the stories they tell (“Lost and Found” even starts with the line “The car crashed”). Ola Podrida's songs are aural snapshots of life experiences, with titles alone (“Photo Booth,” “Eastbound,” “Day at the Beach”) capable of conjuring vivid mental pictures of once-familiar places and people. The piano-based ballad “Pour Me Another,” for instance, is as bittersweet and melancholy as its title suggests. In addition, Wingo's whispered vocal gives the delicate “Instead” the intimate quality of a shared secret while his wistful croon convincingly conveys longing for the titular “Jordanna.” With so much of the album in a relaxed style, Wingo's wise to mix it up with the well-placed “Cindy” which incrementally builds to a raucous climax as the title character watches her house burn to the ground. Subtle instrumental touches—restrained piano accents (“Run Off the Road”), muffled horns (“Day at the Beach”), banjo (“Eastbound”), and organ (the countrified lilt of “The New Science”)—breathe extra life into his minimal arrangements of soft vocals and acoustic guitars. In truth, my Plug Research stylistic preferences lie elsewhere, but it's easy to fall prey to Ola Podrida's rustic charms.

May 2007