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Garage-trance band Laguardia arrives on time

The Radiohead similarities quickly become apparent when you put on Laguardia's new CD, "Welcome to the Middle." Singer Joshua Ostrander combines both the emotion and the sometimes ironic detachment of Radiohead's Thom Yorke -- and even sounds a bit like him. Laguardia's trance-laden grooves also cry out "Radiohead," but not in a slavish manner.


Laguardia definitely has its own sound -- call it garage-trance music -- but the band isn't offended by the Radiohead analogies at all.

"Radiohead is one of the bands I appreciate," says Ostrander. "That's a great career band. It's not like critics are comparing us to a flash in the pan."

Laguardia, a Philadelphia-based group that plays the Middle East Monday and T. T. the Bear's Dec. 15, also incorporates some Beatles-like psychedelia on the new album ("The Beatles set the standard," says Ostrander) and generally sounds like an act that has made way more than just one album.

"A lot of people have told us that,"

Ostrander says with pride. "We really try to make the songs different from each other. And that's even more true in concert, where we might do a country song one minute, then something that sounds like Queens of the Stone Age, and the next like the Jackson Five." The average age of Laguardia's band members is 23, but they're already seasoned, which explains the depth of the new disc and why they've been labeled a band to watch.

Ostrander was formerly in the group Ty Cobb (as was bassist Michael Morpurgo, who was also in Dandelion), and drummer Greg Lyons was in Trip 66. "We've wanted this so badly," Ostrander says of the group's recent success after signing with the Republic/Universal label, also home to Godsmack and 3 Doors Down. "We quit our day jobs two years ago and for a time were caught in the middle of what we had and what we wanted. That's why we called the album `Welcome to the Middle.' "

It's great to see a new band with serious musicianship rather than a hammy, flavor-of-the-month pop superficiality. And the lyrics ring true; Ostrander, who writes most of them, has surely had his share of romantic struggles. "I'm at a point in my life where I'm not going to be writing about NATO or NAFTA," he says. "All my lyrics are about my love life or the lack thereof."

Laguardia was spontaneously named for New York's La Guardia Airport. "We combined it into one word, so we hoped they wouldn't mind," says Ostrander. "The truth is, we had a show booked in New York before we had a name. So we had to come up with something quick."

Seger hits the pinnacle: Bob Seger was recently announced as a new inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Prince, Jackson Browne, and ZZ Top. "I'm thrilled because that's great company," Seger says. "I'm a big fan of Jackson and ZZ Top, and I used to go see Prince before he made it."

Seger was eligible for induction a few years ago but didn't worry about the delay. "I think it bothered other people more than me. I didn't have a clue what the criteria were. I just hoped it would happen eventually," says Seger, who recently released a "Greatest Hits 2" album with such gems as "Katmandu," "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," and "Shakedown." It also has two excellent new songs that show a revived interest in rock and were plucked from an album of originals to be released next year.

Only three of the 11 songs planned for that album are ballads, says Seger. It's tentatively titled "Face the Promise," and Seger says he'll finish writing it by March.

Tour plans, however, are up in the air. "I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it," he says. "I'm 58 now. Touring is a gruelling thing, and I've got to be away from my kids. I'll have to see."

Seger has also become a sailing enthusiast, and two years ago his boat won a famous 200-plus mile race from Port Huron to Mackinac Island in Michigan. "I love it," he says. "But I still write songs 20 to 25 hours a week."

Bits and pieces: The Rolling Stones' recently completed "Licks" tour grossed $299,520,225, making it the second-largest tour in history, according to Billboard. In first place is still the Stones' "Voodoo Lounge" run in the mid-'90s. . . . Frank Morey has a Tuesday residency at Toad this month, and the Twinemen anchor the same night at the Lizard Lounge (this coming Tuesday opens with Peter C. Johnson, who rarely performs, followed by the Heygoods, Twinemen, and Jimmy Ryan; a hot night). . . . Piano man Marc Cohn is at the Somerville Theatre on Jan. 9. Tickets on sale today. Styx is at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 26. Tickets on sale Monday. . . . Tonight: Wheat at the Middle East Downstairs, Amun Ra and DJ Kabir at the Lizard Lounge, Suspect (whose new album, "The Color of We," is an extremely impressive blend of world music-spiced rock and funk) at Bill's Bar, Beat Soup and Allstonians at Johnny D's, Ronnie Earl at the Bull Run in Shirley, NRBQ at the Sea Note in Hull. . . . Tomorrow: Tarbox Ramblers at Johnny D's, Irresponsibles and Sparkola at the Abbey Lounge. . . . Sunday: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the FleetCenter, Dub Station at Bill's Bar.

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