Alpha Rev headline Keep Austin Weird Fest

Around the metaphorical OVRLD offices we often debate about the future directions for our little digital endeavor here. Personally, I prefer to focus on positive, supportive reviews of bands I like, but that is at odds with my ultimate desire for this site to be a near-comprehensive resource for thoughtful analyses on Austin artists. I also recognize that even though I may have certain tastes in music, our readers (and, hell, other writers) don’t completely overlap with that. I’d like to offer my take while providing the space for readers to explore on their own and come to their own conclusions, which shouldn’t always be the same as mine. And all of this self-reflection has come about after my exposure this weekend to Alpha Rev.

I don’t quite know what to do with these guys. Frontman Casey McPherson (and lifelong Austin lover) is clearly a good songwriter with an ear for a catchy melody and just the right chord progression. His lyrics, though, can be nonsensical pablum. The best of Alpha Rev reminds me of chart-toppers like The Fray or AR’s one-time tour-mates OneRepublic, except Alpha Rev has yet to produce a song as iconic as “Apologize” or “How to Save a Life.” I feel like they’re capable of it, but haven’t quite gotten there. A song like “New Morning” – the title track to their 2010 album – reaches for the stars in terms of grandiosity but doesn’t take the listener quite as high as either of the aforementioned tracks. In the end, it’s not something I would listen to if they weren’t Austinites.

Alpha Rev - New Morning

Yet, plenty of people clearly disagree with my assessment. Alpha Rev has over 18,000 Facebook fans (probably more than most of the bands we’ve ever covered combined). They’ve had songs on Melrose Place, Greek, Brothers & Sisters and Royal Pains – only counting TV and not video games or films. They’ve won songwriting competitions and accolades from magazines and VH1, while consistently being recognized in the Austin Music Awards. “New Morning” cracked the Billboard Hot 100 (at #100, but still…). And they are headlining this year’s Keep Austin Weird Fest this Saturday at the Long Center. Things seem to be happening for these guys, and I’m the last one who wants to deter the national success of anything Austin.

I just can’t get into it; it’s not interesting to me, but I’d love to hear where our readers stand on a band like this. Am I missing something? Do they not fall under your sonic umbrella either? Either way, I wish Alpha Rev all the success in the world, and if they’re up your alley, go support them on Saturday, or go to your local record store and buy New Morning. At the very least, maybe they’ll give you an existential crisis just like they did for me.