Alpha Rev Deliver Refined Pop Rock


“To bloom implies something beautiful is going to happen, but it’s a process — just like our own journeys,” says Alpha Rev frontman Casey McPherson. Alpha Rev has certainly done just that since their last album release over four years ago; Bloom showcases the band’s skillful union of adult contemporary and southern rock (some might characterize as Mumford and Sons meets Coldplay) that has finally blended together in a way that is neither overrated nor generic, two words I may have been formerly inclined to use to describe Alpha Rev before discovering Bloom. Besides McPherson, with Alex Dunlap on bass, and Brian Batch (violin, viola) and Dave Wiley (cello) serving as the band’s string section, Bloom explodes as a wealthy collection of sound and imagery.

Bloom certainly hits specific emotional levels that neither New Morning nor The Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Learned had quite the articulation and focus to portray to this depth. The heart-wrenching “Lexington,” based on actual historical love letters from Civil War soldiers to their wives and families, handles death and love as masterfully as a song has the ability to. “The amount of pain they were in to be away from those they loved while their lives were at stake was incredible,” says McPherson.

“Sing Loud” prompts you to “Sing loud from the rooftops / Come dance on the river’s edge” to experience the freedom that either love or the escape from a failing relationship can bring. The video is a montage of love, family, dance, conflict, freedom, joy, sadness and innocence that gives a vision to this hymn-like burst of a song all set to the backdrop of Texas and the southwest. Since I come from a film background, its cinematography was like candy to me and the lighting design was flawless. The power of the lyrics and McPherson’s voice were so eloquently brought to life with the images, that they will now stay in my mind with each listen to the song, making it hard for this to not be my favorite track on the album.

The album succeeds in taking the listener on a journey, the way Alpha Rev promises it will. Through the folk-rock aesthetic of “Highways” (to me it is reminiscent of recent SXSW showcasers Desert Noises) to the dark rumble-turned-scream of “Lonely Man,” Bloom was such an unexpected sound for this band that I had to double check it was actually them.

“Alpha Rev” is a combination of the Greek word for the beginning, and the prevailing Latin prefix rev, as in revolve, revolt, or reveal. Alpha Rev might not be the “start of a revolution” or even the “beginning of a revelation” to indie-rock music, but theirs is a journey I cannot wait to watch unfold and will enjoy listening to and watching for around Austin in the months to come. Check them out at KGSR’s Unplugged at the Grove on the 4th of July or in New Braunfels with Bob Schneider this weekend at the Whitewater Amphitheater.

– Bailey Cool