I was first introduced to the English band Elbow in 2008 by a friend and I've been in love with the band ever since. They produce an intelligent and thoughtful brand of epic Alt-Rock, (I hate labels too but we need some point of reference). The music is rarely overproduced and unlike many rock artists these days, they make use of dynamics, (both loud and soft). The band is like a blue collar version of Radiohead, dirtier with a lot less "art school" baggage. The band's vocalist Guy Garvey has a beautifully gruff voice that sounds as if he's pouring out his feelings after one too many pints at the pub. Now I have a proclivity for singers that don't fit the traditional picture of what a vocalist should be, and he fits perfectly in that list of misfit voices. Garvey is also one of the few English singers I can think of whose Anglo accent is apparent when singing, (no, that fake Green Day stuff doesn't count).
They have released 5 studio albums plus one compilation of B-sides and such. The most successful and my favorite by far is The Seldom Seen Kid, released in 2008. In 2009 they released a live performance of this album with the BBC Orchestra that is really outstanding. Rock artists with orchestras are a very mixed bag, sometimes wonderful, sometimes not. I encourage you take some time and get to know this inspiring group via the playlist below. The video is one of the more interesting integrations off the live album.