Tonight, Tonight: Alpha Rev at House of Blues, The Vespers at The Aardvark and The Jam Session at the Prophet Bar

A couple touring acts pop into town to spruce up an otherwise slow Wednesday evening -- well, aside from perhaps the city's most happening weekly event.

Alpha Rev and The Orange at The House of Blues' Cambridge Room
Austin's Alpha Rev catches a fare amount of flack for coming across like a Texas version of Coldplay. And the fact that frontman Casey McPherson (formerly of Enochine) writes plaintive, sweeping, radio-friendly songs doesn't blunt such criticism. Yet there are certainly worse bands to emulate than Coldplay and U2 and McPherson's melancholic vision is pretty intense. New Morning, Alpha Rev's major label debut, came out last year and features such earnest fare as the gorgeous title track and the seriously poetic "White Fences." It also saw the band, no stranger to playing in Dallas, blow up pretty big in the VH1 world, earning that station's "You Oughta Know" designation. Opening tonight's show is Dallas' own The Orange, a reformed and rejuvenated quartet that mines an ultra-cool, '80s and '90s new wave muse.

The Vespers, One Shot Robin and The Swindle at The Aardvark
Hailing out of Nashville, The Vespers are a talented Americana quartet who share little of that city's penchant for slick and syrupy country-rock. Featuring the powerful vocals of sisters Callie and Phoebe Cryar, songs such as "Tell Your Mama," "Abbe's Song" and "The Well and the Gravestone" are top-notch examples of classic Appalachian folk, complete with gospel references. Denton's punk outfit One Shot Robin and Fort Worth's ambient-inclined The Swindle add variety to this fine triple-bill.

The Jam Session with RC Williams and The Gritz at the Prophet Bar
If you still haven't been to this weekly R&B and hip-hop jam session featuring a whole slew of Grammy winners -- and, really, it's more like a party than anything, not to mention about as close as you can get to a smoky jazz club feel in town -- then, you really, really should check it out.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers