CD Review – Pierced Arrows – Descending Shadows
by Jade Sperry
Pierced Arrows are a band that has formed from the demise of Dead Moon. Fred and Toody Cole have reformed this new band with drummer Kelly Haliburton, and with an endorsement in Spinner Magazine from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder (http://www.spinner.ca/2010/02/02/pierced-arrows-eddie-vedder/), they have delivered a superb album called Descending Shadows. This CD was released in early February 2010 and the songs are alive, fresh and energetic. The Coles are at an age where most people retire but instead they decided to form another band. And for most people who were into Dead Moon, this was and is fantastic news. They are probably one of the best live acts this writer has ever seen and are the most genuine down to earth band as well.
The CD opens with “This Is The Day” which reminds me of a more aggressive Neil Young song. The drums in this song standout as does the guitar work by Fred. Also the vocal work by Fred and Toody are bang on as they were in Dead Moon. Singing about how things used to be and how they are now is what this song is about. The pause breaks in the song and how its structured is as fresh as any new band today. “Buried Alive” has a creepy sounding bass lines which Toody creates in conjunction with Fred’s raspy vocals. It also has a 1960’s Munster-like theme show sound. But not in a bad or campy way; this song evokes a retro feel from the guitars to the vocals and bass. Simple and effective. “On Our Way” is a song that has a reminiscent Pat Benatar “Treat Me Right” feel to it but then it totally becomes a Pierced Arrow song as Fred and Toody’s vocals come in. I like the fact that the Coles incorporate their own styles mixed with classic styles and they blend it so well. This song is a good example of this. “Ain’t Life Strange” has a really good hook with the drums, bass and guitars and strong vocal work. This song has it all – classic rock, hooks, riffs and the lyrics are reminiscent of the 1960’s as well as the 1990’s as both those decades were similar in that music changed its sound. “Paranoia” has a tense feel to it right from the start. Fred’s vocals are effective and he growls with paranoia in a sense. The guitar work is particularly effective as well. “Tripped Out” has a catchy riff and is a well mixed song. For this writer, this song reminds me of being totally out of my head and feeling like a total outsider from everything in life. “On The Move” is an exchange song of lyrics by Fred and Toody about being on the move – touring, traveling and all things related. The guitar work is stellar and has a preciseness about it that’s hard to miss. “This Time Around” is not the strongest song on the CD but it has charm in the vocals by Toody. This song is about the past bands, the new band and everything in between in the life of the Coles. “Let It Rain” has to be the best song on the CD and was one of the best songs they sang live here in Vancouver last year (2009). Passionate vocals, good melody and provocative lyrics make this song a standout. “Zip My Lip” is a punk song at heart and is played that way on this CD. This song is a classic and when you see them perform it live it’s the kind of song that gets you shouting, shaking your fist in the air and leaves you with a feeling that you want to create mischief in some harmless and fun way. The last song “Coming Down To Earth” is the strongest song lyrically. It speaks of having friendships that you realize you’ve outgrown and having painful splits from people you have loved in the past. The music is varied and solid as is the vocal work.
Overall, this is a very good start to a new chapter in the life of Fred and Toody Cole, and I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter in their varied and successful careers. You can find the band at their various sites, plus an interview from when they performed at SXSW earlier this year:
Official Band Website: http://www.piercedarrows.com/
Official Band MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/piercedarrowspdx
Pierced Arrows Interview on Spinner: http://www.spinner.ca/2010/03/14/pierced-arrows-interview-sxsw-2010/