South by Southwest 2005: Ambulance LTD at Exodus in Austin

Ambulance LTD turned in a rousing set Saturday (3/19), filling the Exodus club space with a tightly-layered mix of vintage-breed melody twists and driving guitar arrangements.

The band’s self-titled debut put them on the SXSW roster in 2004, though a year of touring hasn’t dampened the undercurrent of urgency and innocence that color the album’s best moments.

The show began with instrumental track “Yoga Means Union,” an initially mellow conversation of guitar melody figures that builds into an attention-getting crescendo of crunchy chords. If one was to play the game of guessing the classic rock DNA of Ambulance tracks, “Yoga Means Union” would probably land in the neighborhood of “Sparks” from The Who’s “Tommy” collection.

Frontman Marcus Congleton’s sweet-leaning voice and in-the-pocket phrasing begs a number of comparisons from Ray Davies to Glenn Tillbrook to The Clash’s Mick Jones. Combined with a batch of well-crafted tunes, the band accomplishes a captivating presence on CD and on stage, with solid musicianship all around.

Highlights included the aforementioned “Yoga,” the bouncing and deceptively happy-sounding “Anecdote” and the album’s best track, “Stay Where You Are.”