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By Jef With One F
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By Nathan Smith
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Arc Angels reunion concert? The band was, for a minute, a genuine Lone Star State-bred supergroup ready to fly off into the new decade with a muscular, sweeping guitar sound. The quartet, which formed after jamming together at the Austin Rehearsal Complex (ARC, get it?), seemed to have all the right ingredients: a solid, experienced rhythm section in Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan's longtime backing band (Tommy Shannon on bass, Chris Layton on drums), and two young, energetic singer/ guitarists (Charlie Sexton, who cracked the Top 20 as a teen in 1986 with "Beat's So Lonely," and the gruff Doyle Bramhall II, a musical legacy whose father played in several seminal 1960s and 1970s Texas bands). The Angels released a single record on Geffen in 1992, Arc Angels, and scored an MTV and rock radio hit with the rich, guitar-driven "Living in a Dream." The band could have made a lot of great music and picked up the banner for hard-drivin', no-bullshit Texas blues rock after Vaughan's death in 1990, but the Arc Angels broke up amid the usual reasons: differing musical directions, studio control and that all-time favorite, heavy drug use.
This minireunion tour, which will stop only in Fort Worth, Houston and probably Austin, took shape in a roundabout way. A Texas man heard a copy of Arc Angels and, blown away, wanted to hire the band to play his birthday party. He didn't know it had been defunct for years. A few other standing offers and the fact that all four band members had some time on their hands (Sexton and Bramhall were between solo records, and Shannon and Layton's last group, Austin's critically acclaimed Storyville, was busting up) meant the Arc Angels would play again.
"I think it's going to be better now," says Layton, from a studio where he's playing on the next Kenny Wayne Shephard disc (as well as planning a new Double Trouble effort). "Everyone is in good health, gets along and there's a great mood among us, because we weren't on the best of terms when we split. And Doyle had wanted to move back to California, so there was no more band. But we were pretty much done by then anyway." The quartet will rehearse for only four days. It will also play some solo and new material for the shows. As for anything the band members might do together in the future, Layton says, "Who knows?" And what about the birthday boy who unknowingly instigated the reunion? "Oddly enough," Layton says with a laugh, "that's the only show we haven't been able to put together yet."
-- Bob Ruggiero
The Arc Angels will play Sunday, May 23, at 8 p.m. at the Aerial Theatre, 520 Texas Avenue. Cadillac Voodoo Choir opens. Tickets are $20 and $25. Call (713)629-3700 or (713)230-1600.
Trumans Water -- The phrase "improvisational rock" is not inviting to the average music listener. San Diego's Trumans Water isn't strictly improv but is reliant more on instinct and intuition than the average indie rock band. Combining Sonic Youth's layered guitar dissonance, Pavement's love of angular song structures and a free jazz approach to melody, Trumans Water offers more than simple noodling. It offers weirdness: Notes are bent off pitch, vocals are howled almost incomprehensibly, and the rhythm section bobs and weaves through various tempo changes. Since its 1992 debut single, the quartet has always seemed as interested in the process of creating as the results themselves. For instance, at the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994 the band released four albums, all prefaced with the word "Godspeed." There's Godspeed the Static, Godspeed the Hemorrhage, Godspeed the Vortex and Godspeed the Punchline. The spontaneous nature of those records made for chaotic listening. There were many hidden gems worth seeking out. The band's latest, last year's Fragments of a Lucky Break, is just as jumbled and sideways-looking, but the Water keeps a tighter rein on the songs, turning them into frenzied bursts rather than scattered potshots. Trumans Water performs Friday, May 27, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Drive, opening for ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Call (713)521-0521. (David Simutis)
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