Scoops took the day off work today to listen to Laguardia’s first album, Welcome To The Middle. Fortunately, business at the hot dog stand has been slow due to impending legal action from the Health Board. The foursome from Philly has produced a strong effort for their first time out. According to the lead singer Joshua Ostrander the band was trying to put their live show on tape without overproducing the sound. This is most evident in the first two songs, “Roseanna”, and “Holy Ghost”. Scoops, finds that overproduction can definitely ruin a song, but these two were a little dry with too much of a pop sound.
However, Laguardia really starts to hit their stride with the songs “Butterfly” and “Sensation.” Ostrander begins to exhibit a vocal talent that can range from rough and dirty to beautiful. “Sensation” brings all of the elements of the band together. This languid song combines the keyboard with ethereal background vocals but manages to keep its energy with the guitar work of Lee Bernstein. The press release issued by the record company describes it as “the chiming guitar lines of Ostrander and lead guitarist Lee Bernstein circle one another with elegant ruthlessness; a fabulous Flamenco danced in zero gravity.” Scoops is not entirely sure what that means, but wishes that he were gifted with the ability to pen such poetic verse. However, Laguardia does achieve a space-like quality with “Banner” and the mellow “Sleepover”. This song has a full body that reminds Scoops of his third wife. Yet, unlike his third wife, “Sleepover” did not tear out his heart and leave him destitute. Many of the songs on Welcome To The Middle begin with the calm sweetness of Ostrander singing, accompanied only by his piano. Laguadia, gradually begins to build upon the song with guitar and pounding drums. Drummer Greg Lyons, manages to make his presence felt throughout the album with several unconventional beats that don’t become too overpowering.
Overall, Welcome To The Middle scratches Scoops’ itch for good music. He’s going to have to see the doctor about that other one. Sometimes it is refreshing to hear from a band that understands how to structure a song, and still manage to play their instruments competently. Laguardia shows range and talent on their debut album that could promise great things to come. The album varies from placid and melodious to songs that will set your toes a tappin’. Before you drop fifteen dollars on the newest Sum 41 album, check out Welcome To The Middle, and listen to a band that understands the subtle art of phonics.