When I was involved in the 90s Dallas music scene, I saw countless bands, but there were probably a handful of them that I genuinely got behind. One of them was a Dallas-based band called The Reach. We played a gig with them once at The (now defunct) Green Room, and I bought their debut CD Closer on the spot. Although I wasn't entirely convinced that the album really captured the band, it was an enjoyable listen.
What I found appealing about The Reach, more than anything else, is the fascinating way in which they blended the sounds of two very distinctive bands together into a cohesive style. It was as if two thirds of Rush (specifically, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart) and half of R.E.M. (singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills) all sat in with one another and, against all odds, found common ground. While it might be easy to judge the band for wearing these influences on their collective sleeve, I always thought it worked incredibly well in a live setting. They won me over as a fan, and I looked forward to playing gigs with them.
Time came and went: the Dallas music scene crashed and all the bands from that era that I connected with broke up. The great live work of many of these bands was flattened into the various CDs that I got at their shows. The independent studio practices of the day, despite being terribly expensive, often rendered these artifacts sadly muffled, unclear, and bereft of soul. In most cases, however, they are all that I have left from that time. I was a little distraught, then, when I discovered in 2008 that somewhere along the line, my copy of Closer had disappeared.
I set out on a search to see if it was even possible to replace the album, and I found, to my surprise, that there was another chapter in The Reach’s timeline. The guitarist/lead singer had moved to Colorado after the Dallas scene imploded, but through MySpace, he eventually reconnected with the drummer, who was still living in the Metroplex. They collaborated remotely (which was much less common in the early 00s than it is now) and completed their sophomore album Lift in 2003. I contacted the band about replacing my copy of Closer, and they were kind enough to send me both albums.
Lift really impressed me when I first received it. As I have been revisiting it over the past couple of weeks, however, I am of the opinion that as a studio project, it has a conviction and clarity that renders its predecessor obsolete. Over the course of its thirteen tracks, it thunders and strums, convincingly overlapping the desolate rhythms of Grace Under Pressure with the fervent wailing of Document. It is actually a great album that stands independent of any nostalgic ideals I hold of my time in the thankless, but interesting, Dallas music scene. I highly suggest taking the time to track it down and give it a listen in full.