the horror of our love

There is a complex formula of musicality, humor, geekiness and spunk that – when properly computed – results in that which is Ludo. On their major label debut, You’re Awful, I Love You, Ludo throws listeners twelve tracks of powerful pop goodness that they’ll be humming along to long after the disc stops spinning.

Kicking things off is “Love Me Dead”, a live staple that’s been around for years. Ambitious, theatrical, and hook-filled, the song not only sets the tone for the album but for the band as well. Neither disappoint. Competing for attention are thundering drums and pulsing guitar of “Drunken Lament”, the adventure and choir-strong vocals of “Lake Pontchartrain”, and the dance-able rock of “Such As It Ends”. Not to be pigeonholed, the band also successfully takes on more intimate fare in “Streetlights” and “Topeka”.

Ludo is at their best, however, when taking a darker turn. The hurricane-force chorus of “Please” could move mountains, and its instrumentals the most hardened heart. Tight and driving, they perfectly echo the longing of the lyrics. “The Horror of Our Love” has incredibly dark lyrics surrounding obsessive, murderous love while offering one of the most beautiful musical releases at the song’s chorus. Calm and ethereal, it produces an opposite physical effect – the listener is left breathless while something tugs at them from deep within.

You’re Awful, I Love You drops 2/26/08.
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As a bonus, I was able to see Ludo perform several songs from You’re Awful, I Love You at their show at The Majestic in Madison, WI on January 25, 2008.

Standout tracks from the material included “Drunken Lament” with its tight drums and “Lake Pontchartrain” which is even fuller and more energetic live. “Go-Getter Greg” worked well, sounding a bit like Fountains of Wayne if they had unresolved anger issues. “Please” was epic, though not quite as nuanced as the album version. And of course there was “Love Me Dead”, but its success was no surprise as the dichotomous lyrics beg for a sing-along.

There was a good mix of songs from the band’s self-titled LP and their rock opera Broken Bride. “Good Will Hunting By Myself” never fails to entertain, “Hum Along” served as a big payoff for most of the crowd, and the Broken Bride material still sounds fresh with “Save Our City” continuing to be a crowd favorite and one of Ludo’s best live songs.

Broken Bride
Drunken Lament
Go-Getter Greg
Saturday Night Thunderbolt
Lake Pontchartrain
In Space
Save Our City
Girls On Trampolines
Scream, Scream, Scream
Air-Conditioned Love
The Lamb and the Dragon
Hum Along
Love Me Dead
Good Will Hunting By Myself
Epic [Faith No More cover]

i feel like a hater

On August 1, 2007 there was a clash. Not of titans, not of British punk rockers, but of mismatched genres. On this day, Austin’s Red Eyed Fly hosted Ha Ha Tonka, Eliot Fitzgerald, Ludo, and A Pocketful of Deng to mixed and confounding results.

Ha Ha Tonka
I was pleasantly surprised to find upon arrival that this oddly named band (Ha Ha Tonka was a state park they used to go to as kids, according to singer Brian Roberts) was in fact a renamed Amsterband. I had been lucky enough to catch a few songs by them at the Metro [Chicago] in February and was glad to see a full set.

The band is incredibly fun to watch, bringing a soulful brand of alt-country from Missouri. The most astounding thing about them is their superior harmonizing abilities. These gents had the sense to showcase this ability, doing an a capella folk tune for the crowd to marvel at.

You can hear a few tracks including the upcoming single “St. Nick” here, but I suggest checking them out live to get a real feel for what this band is all about.

Eliot Fitzgerald
Once Eliot Fitzgerald took the stage, my confusion started to set in. They were slow and sweeping, completely dissipating the energy Ha Ha Tonka had built up. Also, it was over 90 degrees and they were wearing slacks and sweaters.

Musically, they were fine – kind of a Snow Patrol vibe going – but I quickly grew tired of the very Jesus-tacular lyrics. I like plenty of Christian rock [Underoath, Copeland, Emery, and so on], but this was just too much. I personally am not a fan of feeling like I’m in church at a rock show, but maybe you’ll enjoy it.

Back on the road after some time off recording, Ludo was “learning to be a band again” as guitarist Tim Ferrell put it. Though they were a little rusty, there was nothing too noticeable and they managed to bring the energy in the room back up.

They played two new songs, “Drunken Lament” and “In Space”. Also in the set list were a few selections from Broken Bride and oldie “Air Conditioned Love”. The crowd tried to cheer them back on stage for their cover of Faith No More’s “Epic”, but singer Andrew Volpe deemed it inappropriate as they were not the headliner.

To keep updated on Ludo, you can check out their website.

A Pocketful of Deng
Wrapping up the show was Austin’s own A Pocketful of Deng. Bringing the confusion back, they were an oddly dressed, noisy, ‘experimental’ group. I gave up after about half a song, but checked back in on them a few more times during their set. I just couldn’t understand their appeal, but the crowd that remained seemed to enjoy it. Once again, I just think this was an odd pairing of bands on the bill.

I feel like a hater for semi-trashing the local acts on the bill, but I attribute most of it to a bad choice of line-up on the venue’s behalf. Check back in the future for pictures; once I get them developed and uploaded I’ll post them.