It is no secret that there is a side to Texas Music that is unflinchingly rock n’ roll. Rooted in the blues and crafted by folks who enjoy creating huge riffs as much as they do interesting lyrics, it is a part of the Texas Music canvass that is often needed to break up the monotony that can come from acoustic guitar driven folk tales from time to time. Modern purveyors of this brand of music include Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Whiskey Myers, The Departed and Band of Heathens among others. Back in the early 90s, a supergroup was formed in Austin featuring two of the finest guitar players in the world (Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton) and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s surviving Double Trouble rhythm section (Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon).
The band dubbed themselves The Arc Angels inspired by the complex where they were jamming and rehearsing at…and were quickly signed to a record deal with Geffen Records. Their debut album was recorded in a flash and released in 1992 to great fanfare and buzz. Guitar riffs and interesting lyrics were traded equally and the backing rhythms were lively and tasty. It was a combination that harkened back to the best work of ZZ Top with added grittiness.
Video play on MTV and several national tv appearances followed. Like so many cliche music tales told before it, the Arc Angels flight to stardom was grounded before it truly got off the ground due to Bramhall’s increased drug consumption. So, in 1993 the band disbanded and they went their separate ways musically. After cleaning up, Bramhall went on tour with Roger Waters and Eric Clapton among others. Sexton became Bob Dylan’s bandleader and lead guitarist while producing acts ranging from Lucinda Williams to Owen Temple…and Double Trouble kept on being Double Trouble in bands like Storyville.
For years talk of a reunion tour and album circulated like a wildfire…only to be put out each time the guys were seen on one of these other major projects. Meanwhile, their self-titled debut album continued to endure. It’s the type of album that other musicians share an affinity for. I’ve yet to meet a guitar player in the modern Texas scene that is not strongly influenced and infatuated with this album. Due to the passing years, the album has become like a well-known secret that these guys pass among themselves. Arc Angels finally reunited to perform at SXSW in 2009 and released a live album that spurred rumors of a soon to be released studio album that fans are still clamoring for. With sporadic, must -see tour dates popping up from time to time we still wait…and still listen to the Arc Angels super influential debut album.