Right now in England, forming a band to play self-consciously epic guitar rock in the key of U2 is about as original as learning three chords on a beat-up Stratocaster in a Brooklyn loft space is here. So give it up for the guys in Sussex's Keane: They formed a band to play self-consciously epic guitar rock without a guitar! On Hopes and Fears, their debut, the clean-cut trio -- pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, drummer Richard Hughes and singer Tom Chaplin, who's never heard a Travis song he didn't love -- sound like they're getting a head start on winning the heart of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's newborn daughter Apple. Opener "Somewhere Only We Know" pulses with earnest whimsy; "We Might As Well Be Strangers" luxuriates in a bookish melancholy; "Everybody's Changing" manages to get the tempo up enough to inspire a bit of a dance 'round the teapot. But even without a guitarist, the members of Keane are steeped so completely in their environment that they barely distinguish themselves from Snow Patrol, Starsailor, Elbow or any of the other 587 U.K. outfits currently vying for your post-Radiohead dollar. Give it to 'em, but ask for a receipt.
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Keane is scheduled to perform with Aveo, and Matt Pond PA on June 5 at the Mason Jar.