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Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller has had such a talent for damaged, bittersweet love songs (with just enough brooding wistfulness) that he's remained a top 10 crush object for underground rockers since the band's first independent release, the rough cowpunk-style Hitchhike to Rhome in 1993. Formed in Dallas by Miller and bassist Murry Hammond, the group plays country-tinged power-pop whose signature is Miller's boyish, almost petulant vocals on biting lyrics. Miller has claimed minimalist fiction writer Raymond Carver as a major influence, and his turns of phrase are deft and cutting enough to bear that out as legit. Fortunately, a happy marriage and a couple of successful solo albums haven't blunted his edge. The 2008 release Blame It on Gravity " the band's first in four years " is a beery joyride with all the twisted romance and zinging turns of phrase fans know and love. The show opens with Sleepercar, an El Paso alt-country outfit featuring Jim Ward, former guitarist for the off-kilter rockers At the Drive-In. Tickets $16. — Alison Fensterstock

9 p.m. Sat., July 19

House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com