Music News

Pierced Arrows: Descending Shadows, in "Nothing Not New"

Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

Artist: Pierced Arrows
Title: Descending Shadows
Release date: February 2, 2010
Label: Vice

If you like old people who still know how to rock, you might be interested in the Oregon band Pierced Arrows, which is essentially a re-formation of the longtime garage rock band Dead Moon, but with a different drummer. As they did in Dead Moon (1987-2006), the husband-and-wife team of Fred and Toody Cole lead the way, plying guitar and bass, respectively, in an even more stripped-down, gutty take on the classic Dead Moon sound.

Fred Cole is 62, and Toody can't be too far behind her old man in age. What they lack in slick musicianship, they more than make up for in heart and unadulterated rock 'n' roll spirit. And the songs aren't bad, either -- mostly mid-tempo, minor-key anthems that convey the kind of urgency you might expect from a couple of people who recognize that their days of rocking won't last forever. But you also get the sense that they will be plugging in their guitars for as long as they are physically capable.

In any conventional sense, Fred and Toody don't have great voices. As they trade lead vocals on many of the songs on Descending Shadows, it sounds like they're trying to one-up each other in a way I can only describe as pained fearlessness. To me, the whole package (vocals, music, lyrics, tones) sounds like a less-accomplished Neil Young and Crazy Horse. It's not the easiest listen of the year, but it's one of the most inspirational.

Note: Pierced Arrows are scheduled to appear Tuesday, March 23, at the Sail Inn in Tempe.

Best song: "On the Move," a desperate call to arms
Rotation: Heavy
Deja Vu: The grand tradition of hard-stomping Pacific Northwest rock music
I'd rather listen to: Neil Young's "Fuckin' Up"
Grade: A-
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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett