- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003


Welcome to the Middle


From the opening twinge of feedback that slips into a menacing lullaby on Laguardia’s “Welcome to the Middle,” you realize: Radiohead has spawned not just offspring, such as Coldplay, but outright clones.

Laguardia, an alt-rock band from Philadelphia that recently dropped its debut album, is so steeped in the post-grunge cliches of Radiohead — the syncopated time signatures, the slinky bursts into distorted bang and clatter — that the influence could fairly be called slavishness.

“Holy Ghost,” in particular, features those oddly placed Radioheadian rhythmic hiccups, and singer Joshua Ostrander’s carbon-copy take on Thom Yorke is borderline obsessive. “Butterfly” sounds like it was left on the “OK Computer” cutting-room floor.

The band shows flickers of originality, though. The simply titled “Sex” is a bracing, indie-rock twist on the boom-chicka-boom rhythm. “Cuba” (no relation to the island) does the same for the Bo Diddley beat, while “Sleep Over (116 Overture)” nicely channels “Magical Mystery”-era Beatles.

The sprightly, piano-driven “Bull Ride,” too, shows a Laguardia comfortable in its own skin, even if Mr. Ostrander can’t keep himself from uttering the Yorke yowl.

Laguardia seems in good hands with producer/mixer Brad Wood, who has worked, coincidentally, with the Smashing Pumpkins, the band’s other chief influence.

Which is a shame, because if there’s one thing we can do without today, it’s the over-earnest pretension of ex-Pumpkin frontman Billy Corgan.

Laguardia is at its best when it breaks out of its mid-‘90s mold and digs deeper into its retro bag of goodies.

On the off chance that “Sleep Over” makes it onto the airwaves, don’t click it off for fear it’s the overplayed Coldplay.

Yeah, the song sounds a lot like “The Scientist”; but, as with the other nine cuts from “Middle,” all of which will remind you of something else, you just have to get past that.

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