Let's hear it for the underappreciated singer-songwriter dudes. Except not really, in John Mayer's case. This dorm-room heartthrob's taken a nation of underage Dave Matthews fans by storm, giving jangly guitar-pop a voice that doesn't necessarily pay homage to R.E.M. and doesn't necessarily demonstrate any tangible allegiance to the "roots music" Matthews seems to care about. Which is to say that this is the perfect show to ask your super-hot lab partner to--Mayer sometimes wears a purple shirt onstage that girls think is sexy and boys wish they owned, and Room for Squares, Mayer's briskly selling debut, tells quite a few stories filled with nervous glances. No pain, a little shame, perhaps quite a bit of gain.
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Austin's David Garza is more the genuine article; his recent Overdub, an inventive set of nifty little pop tunes about love and hate and nifty little pop tunes, hasn't been heard by half the people who'd love it. It's a script so familiar Garza's probably got no hope of flipping it (though his work on the upcoming solo debut by Old 97 Rhett Miller, a guy whose perfect hair could probably flip anything, might open a few session-guy doors), but consider that he's one of the few working songwriters capable of filling the crucial Led Zeppelin-Chic gap and check him out at Gypsy Tea Room on Thursday night. Do it for the part of you that always wanted to be a rock star.