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Manchester, England's Elbow met a decade ago in college and began playing together, searching for a suitable sound. As their style developed in the late '90s, talk of Elbow making it big began swirling. In 1998, they signed to Island Records and began work on the debut album. That album never surfaced and the band was dropped from the label less than a year later. Fortunately Elbow found refuge in a Manchester indie label UglyMan Records for the release of two EPs. That brings us up to date with the release of their debut album Asleep In The Back on V2 Records.

There is an unavoidable similarity to Radiohead on Asleep In The Back with the static and linear drum beats, the measure-in/measure-out bass lines, and the spacey layers of keyboards and guitars. The vocals also get into Thom Yorke territory periodically, further underscoring the similarity to Radiohead (This vocal style seems to be an unavoidable trend these days, so many songwriters being heavily influenced by Radiohead, paralleled only by the trend that refuses to die on mainstream alternative rock radio of singers attempting to imitate Eddie Vedder).

The Asleep In The Back album stands on its own enough to make it an interesting and enjoyable listen. It's when the band deviates into their own realm that the album finds its place. The song "Bitten by the Tailfly" is dark as hell. It is a tribal NIN mid-album trip where they drop a hit of windowpane halfway through the song, getting downright psychedelic. "Newborn," the track offered here, is actually one of the least interesting tracks on the album, treading on the heels of Dave Matthews. Gotta guess it is offered because it's the most radio-friendly tune in the batch, a hugely produced ballad with a nice "hook." Nevertheless, the more creative songs like "Can't Stop" seems to define Elbow more as their own.