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Laguardia - Welcome to the Middle
By Tim Byrnes

Welcome to the Middle is as strong a first shot across the bow as I've heard in a while. The Philadelphia quartet show up on their debut CD with the confidence of veterans. Which is pretty much the case. These guys have been together since August, 2000, honing their material and getting their stage bones in New York City before touring across the country with all the drafty vans and lumpy couches which that implies. Signing with Universal in early 2003, they released this CD in September of that year, throwing themselves to the head of the pack in the many Best New Artist polls. A listen to this CD tells me why. 

The record's opener ˜Roseanna' features singer/guitarist Joshua Ostrander's yearning, Bono-esque (and I know it's unfair to compare singers, but Ostrander and Bono both have voices that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up in exactly the same way) vocals skating a lake of intricate lacelike barbed wire arrangement, the guitars and keys and rhythm section swerving and slithering around each other, forming an entirety far greater than the sum of it's parts. 

˜Holy Ghost' is on the art/punk drama tip, sounding like a car crash involving Radiohead and the Dead Boys. There's a swagger to this band's intellectualism, a smartness in their strut. The thing I like most about this CD, and I hope it's a portent of things to come from more bands, is their eclecticism. 

Laguardia seem to understand the oscillating attraction of blowing minds and shaking bootys. (Booties?) For every section that's claustrophobic to the point of slight insanity, there's a section that draws from the soul well and lifts off and up and out into the listener's world view, setting something important free, sometimes in the same song as is the case with my favorite cut on Middle, ˜Butterflies'.

Slow, sepulchral and atmospheric movements countered with jagged, guitar driven sharp sticks to the eye, wrapped up in intriguing production that illuminates, but never masks the music adds up to one of the best CDs to come down my pike in a while. I hope Laguardia sticks around; I can't wait to see where they go next. We're gonna need ˜em ˜cause, from what I understand, the next Radiohead CD is gonna be so hip that only dolphins will be able to hear it.

CD Info 

Laguardia - Welcome to the Middle
Label: Universal
Holy Ghost
Duct Tape
Bull Ride
Sleep Over (116 Overture)
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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