Ola Podrida – Ghosts go blind


Memories and perception. Two different things that might depend more on each other than it might appear. Memory can be distorted with time, with facts appearing and crucial bits of information being chucked away. Perception cements a memory in one way or another, perhaps when it happened, perhaps after it has been distorted. Our mind is only the material where primer will be applied and then our life will be etched, with each etching changing as time goes by.

A heavy intro for an emotionally charged album, called Ghosts Go Blind, by the always sweet and reliable Ola Podrida, a band we found out about thanks to Leslie Sisson and The Wooden Birds.

Ghosts Go Blind starts with a slightly “Neil Young meets Tom Petty in a dive bar” manner with ‘Not ready to stomp’, the alt-country rocker that does the job of enticing your attention, not with a suckerpunch nor with a haymaker, but with a strong handshake. Just wait for the loud instrumental middle of this track, it’s gorgeous! What started like a sweet track changed faces so many times that you can feel the confusion seeping through and realise that what you perceived at the beginning does not exist any more.

Which doesn’t imply Ola Podrida does experimental stuff. Not at all. They have a sound and they play with it enough to make it interesting but not too much to alienate both the fan and the newcomer. With all the ideas perfectly juggled in ‘Not ready to stomp’,  they do take it slowly for their next three tracks, with ‘Washing Away’ being like a slowly danced sway between two lovers under the starry nights of some long forgotten place.

If you need a track to define the many feelings in Ghosts Go Blind, I’d suggest you check ‘Staying In’, an upbeat but sad (!) track that unleashes wave after wave of nostalgia with an unrelenting pace. It’s the track that made me fell in love with this album and I sincerely hope it does the same to you.

‘Ghosts go blind’ carries the weight of being the track that names the album and I’d venture to interpret it with the evidence available. The music is in a very thoughtful mood, mildly reminiscent of a late afternoon drive in Autumn. The vocal delivery is full of longing. The change in key adds a subtle feeling of dread (the ghosts in the song slipping into existence) while the sparse piano accentuates the emotions present. Are these ghosts aware of their previous life or are they just revenants with no senses that just roam in derelicts? Let’s keep that idea of desolation and imagine those thoughts and fears that during the day only roam unnoticed in your head, but come ’round for poker and beers when you turn off the light. That sense of dread you ignored during the day suddenly reappears, haunting you and your dreams. That’s what ‘Ghosts go blind’ feels like. Uneasiness will prevail.

Ahem, I probably overanalysed. Moving on.

‘Speed of light’ and ‘Some sweet relief’ have some retro tricks added to them to accentuate the ideas shuffled through. What could’ve been a gimmick or a hark to nostalgia work more as musical landscaping that gives the songs panache. ‘The notes remain’ has loud moments, which come not as a twist but build up like the subtle hints in a film give you the logical pieces required to discover a revelation that turns the plot around.

And then it’s over. Ola Podrida knows to leave the audience wanting more and that is the memory that will remain once Ghosts go blind ends. Will you perceive it differently? Shoot back in the comments.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

Ola Podrida Website. Facebook. Twitter. Myspace. Last.fm.

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