Descending Shadows (Vice)
Pierced Arrows guitarist Fred Cole said it best when he described his band’s new record as “rough, ragged and honest”. About as gritty and raw as garage rock can get, the sophomore effort and Vice debut from the Oregon heavyweights is a fierce kick at the can.
Those familiar with the outfit’s previous incarnation as seminal underground rockers Dead Moon won’t be surprised by the disc’s bare-bones aesthetic, as Cole has always had a no-bullshit approach when it comes to production. Joined by partner Toody on bass and drummer Kelly Halliburton, the guitarist—who shares vocal duties with his sweetheart of 42 years—delivers exactly what you’d expect from a guy who burst onto the scene back in ’64 in garage’s original heyday. Letting it rip with ominous sluggers like the sludgy, off-kilter husband-wife duet “On the Move” and the terrifying psychotic romp “Paranoia”, the team barrels ahead with the intensity of a Class 4 cyclone.
Not without its tender moments, Descending Shadows makes a few pit stops along the way to tug at heartstrings with sweet little numbers like “Ain’t Life Strange”, in which Toody reflects: “Wears you to the bone/Makes you feel alone/Just when you’ve had enough/Comes and picks your spirits up/Oh, ain’t life strange.” It’s during these relaxed-tempo moments that fans get the opportunity to fully admire the authenticity of Pierced Arrows’ work. Unlike a lot of acts aimlessly mucking around on the garage-punk scene today, these cult heroes aren’t struggling for an identity. The veterans know exactly who they are.
And while that may mean there aren’t a lot of twists and turns as far as the trio’s trademark sound goes, it does offer reassurance to those of us who value consistency. In a time when every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the music industry is chomping at the bit to add a few hyphenated genres into their repertoire, it’s nice to know that not everyone is willing to piss away perfection.
Download This: “Paranoia”