Ola Podrida – Belly of the Lion

January 01, 1970

(Western
Vinyl)

 

www.westernvinyl.com

 

David
Wingo may have first gotten some attention dong soundtracks for David Gordon
Green (George Washington, All the Real Girls, up to this year’s Gentlemen Broncos), but it’s his work as
Ola Podrida that’s beginning to feel really significant.  Wingo’s 2007 debut in his sort-of band (he
recruits for the road but works alone otherwise) was the kind of subtle, solid
record that gets undervalued at the time and called a “grower” later, so if I
say now that Belly of the Lion isn’t
quite as good as its predecessor, it’s with even greater willingness than usual
I add that I’ll probably eat my words in the future.

 

If
this album is lacking in comparison to the ’07 release t’s mostly in terms of
emotional impact.  While Ola Podrida‘s appeal was as much in how
it rambled and fuzzily thrashed as in the stories Wingo was telling, once you’d
gotten accustomed to his drowsy tone it was hard to take songs like the
heartbroken, bitter “Pour Me Another” or the fatalistic “Photo
Booth” lightly.  There’s not as much
heartbreak this time, although Wingo’s knack for a good story is in full
effect: “Your Father’s Basement” is about exactly that, sung from one
teenage boy to another as they hunt for booze and dream about his older
sister’s friends. “Lakes of Wine” is about finding scraps of wisdom
or beauty on random pieces of paper and bathroom walls, while “Sink or
Swim” tells the same love story twice – once with a boy and a girl, once
with two boys – and asks what should change between them.

 

What
pathos there is on Belly of the Lion feels less personal (or maybe less selfish); the closing “This Old
World” is as much about why the world would make the couple at the middle
of it feel out of place as it is about their sense of dislocation. What charges
the music here with the fond regret and clear-eyed melancholy it carries,
though, aren’t the lyrical sentiments so much as the music, which was recorded
by Wingo in his apartment.  Like his
debut as Ola Podrida, you wouldn’t guess that these songs are the work of a
one-man band and Wingo’s only refined his hazy brand of rock since last
time.  Ola Podrida’s music works as if
folk music and shoegazer rock are both branches of the same thing, and the
result is an oddly complementary tension between the pastoral and textural
sides of the music.  Banjo is placed
alongside fuzzbox and neither gets short shrift nor feels out of place.  The brief, modest Belly of the Lion isn’t quite as arresting as Ola Podrida’s first
effort, but as a further example of how flexible and durable Wingo’s sound is,
it’s a satisfying followup and hints at even greater things to come.

 

Standout Tracks: “We All Radiant,” “Lakes of
Wine” IAN MATHERS

 

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