The story of Paper Arrows:
Across the winters of 2007, Joe Goodkin, Jay Marino, and Darren Garvey pieced together a group of recordings in a Chicago attic overlooking I-90, working around ten of Goodkin's orphaned acoustic demos. Quiet songs like Again and Again combine fingerpicked guitars with the sounds of highway traffic and trains to create a sonic bed for whispered lyrics fraught with pain and regret. Hope flickers on the ebullient Motown-influenced Turn, but by the album's closer, When You Left, the loss is fully realized and Paper Arrows' 2008 debut Look Alive is complete.
Following favorable press on Look Alive (the Chicago Tribune's Redeye asked "Did rock superstars Radiohead steal local band Paper Arrows' idea?"), the band returned to the studio to begin what would become its second full-length, 2009's Things We Would Rather Lose. In contrast to the silent spaces of Look Alive, Things We Would Rather Lose is packed with noisy guitars, distorted organs, layered vocals, a horn section, and a stylistic variety that evokes the nausea of recovery. On select tracks, additional musicians joined the core three, including the Cosmic Unity horns, pianist Drew Scalercio and bassist Anthony Burton. The central question of the lead track More ("Can you leave the ghost behind?") is addressed in song after song, building to the climactic, chaotic final statement of Explosions Below ("Turning the page on the last piece of love").
Things We Rather Lose found a place on the airwaves (substantial college radio play) and the small screen (featured on MTV programming) and in the summer of 2010, Paper Arrows (now consisting of Goodkin, Marino, Garvey and Scalercio) spent three days at I.V. Lab Studios in Chicago tracking its third full-length album in three years, In the Morning. Ten tunes, one goal: resolve the cycle of loss and recovery with a set of songs about redemption. Recorded largely live, In the Morning is the band's most cohesive and upbeat offering yet. The defiant chorus of Smoke and Ash ("no it's not okay if you go and go fading away into smoke and ash from fires we'll always regret") gives way to the sweet promise of Dry, the acceptance of Still Got You, and finally the closing piano ballad Near, a lullaby that serves as a quiet conclusion to the three album arc.
In the Morning was released in early 2011 after the band completed a prestigious month-long residency at the Chicago rock club Schubas, and has garnered radio play, television licensing, and positive press: The Chicago Tribune named Paper Arrows as one of the "11 Chicago Bands to Watch in 2011."
So what happens after the story is resolved? Paper Arrows began a new narrative arc with 2012's Days of Getting By, released on Slothtrop Records.
Joe Goodkin - Vocals/Guitar
Jay Marino - Bass/Vocals
Darren Garvey - Drums
Drew Scalercio - piano and keys
Full-length release: Look Alive (Quell Records): March 4, 2008
Full-length release: Things We Would Rather Lose (Quell Records): April 7, 2009
Full-length release: In the Morning (Quell Records) March 8, 2011
EP Release: Days of Getting By (Slothtrop Records) September 25, 2012 (reissued on Quell Records)
Chicago Band Paper Arrows Poised to Explode
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Chicago's own Paper Arrows is winning hearts over with their thought-provoking lyrics and soothing s...Chicago's own Paper Arrows is winning hearts over with their thought-provoking lyrics and soothing sound, making them one of Chicago's most loved up-and-coming bands. Not only is this band full of Chicago-raised musicians, but they are also fearless...
11 Chicago bands to watch in 2011
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Paper Arrows don't subscribe to the lax, wait-and-see-what-happens MO practiced by so many indie fai...Paper Arrows don't subscribe to the lax, wait-and-see-what-happens MO practiced by so many indie faithful. Logging three albums in as many years, significant college radio airplay, song inclusion in MTV's "Real World DC" and a recently concluded Practice Space residency at Schubas, the trio doesn't lack for ambition. Twinkling pianos, sincere deliveries and rootsy instrumentation define "In the Morning" (Quell), an earnest statement that leader Joe Goodkin composed around the experiences of meeting and dating the woman that became his wife. Fans of heart-on-your-sleeve poetry, Coldplay's Chris Martin and emotionally wrought falsetto singing, look no further.
Music's a form of therapy for Paper Arrows
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Much of Paper Arrows' musical output sounds scarred by some great tragedy. "Everything dear disappea...Much of Paper Arrows' musical output sounds scarred by some great tragedy. "Everything dear disappears," band founder Joe Goodkin sings amid the wreckage of "Things We Would Rather Lose," a gorgeous heartbreaker of a tune that finds him strolling around falling skyscrapers with the same broken, emotionally detached aura that Bill Murray projects throughout "Lost in Translation."
"Our first album, 'Look Alive,' wasn't even meant to be released as a proper product," says the 33-year-old Goodkin, reached by telephone at his North Center home in early December. "It was just something I made entirely selfishly as therapy. But once that was out and people responded to it, it kind of told me that you have to learn to be comfortable with putting those things out there."
It's true that the singer, who derives all of his material from his own experiences ("I admire people who can write fiction songs, but I haven't gotten to that point," he says), has developed a comfort level with allowing listeners to share in his misery.
That's part of what makes the forthcoming "In the Morning" — which the band will make available at the final show of its Schubas residency before the official release early next year — such an interesting experiment. Much of the album was written over summer 2009, when Goodkin was courting his now-wife — an incredibly joyous period in his life, "I think that was a huge personal corner to turn," Goodkin says of the relationship. "It put a more positive spin on things." This more upbeat approach is reflected in the album's title, which can be taken literally (the guitarist did most of the writing shortly after waking about 5 a.m.) or metaphorically (referencing the first signs of contentment after countless lonely nights).
It's also, for all intents and purposes, the first proper full-band effort. Although Jay Marino (bass) and Darren Garvey (drums, organ) contributed greatly to the first two Paper Arrows albums, their job at the time was largely to add heft to Goodkin's skeletal demos. This time around, the three musicians gathered for more extensive rehearsals, working out arrangements and making adjustments right up until they entered the studio for three days of recording. Goodkin says that a bulk of the record is the sound of the three players together in a room, and the resulting tunes are all the more vital for it.
Goodkin, who was born and raised in the suburbs, started playing guitar in the third grade, first experimenting with stripped-down Beatles covers before discovering the blues — a form, he says, that "helped me find my voice on the instrument." An interesting choice of words, to be sure, because Paper Arrows' indie rock excursions sound miles removed from traditional 12-bar blues.
"At its root, the blues is about confronting pain and suffering through music," says Goodkin, delving further into the form's influence on his artistic development. "You can take the worst thing that can happen to you on a personal level — 'My woman left me,' 'My dog got run over' — and make a song out of it."
He added: "I think — and this isn't a unique thought — a lot of great art comes out of the need to express pain and anguish. If you funnel those feelings and emotions into a song, it can take a lot of that pain away. And hopefully it connects with people too."
Chock full of joy, reminiscence and muscular contemplation, there's plenty here to love.
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Remember the 80s, back when pop bands played real instruments and flavored their sounds with keyboar...Remember the 80s, back when pop bands played real instruments and flavored their sounds with keyboards? This Chicago quartet does, and it has cranked out ten gems that take me back to high school.
More than that, though, Paper Arrows incorporate a few more recent tends into their mix. There are nods to americana, that whole 90s "modern rock" thing and a few of the better singer-songwriters of the past 20 years.
Indeed, while the use of piano and organ put something of a date stamp on the overall sound, Paper Arrows exist in a timeless zone. One where good music is appreciated without labels.
Oh, hell, why get sanctimonious. This album is anything but. Chock full of joy, reminiscence and muscular contemplation, there's plenty here to love. In the end, the songs are the stars. And they sure are.
Ten smooth hummable tracks
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The third full-length release from Chicago's Paper Arrows. If you love pop bands from the 1980s and ...The third full-length release from Chicago's Paper Arrows. If you love pop bands from the 1980s and early 1990s...there's a good chance you will fall in love with this band's super catchy pure pop sound. The guys in Paper Arrows aren't trying to push boundaries or make demands of their listeners. These tunes were created for pure entertainment. The arrangements are simple, allowing the listener to focus on the vocal melodies and lyrics. Because we only received a CD-R we'll keep this short. Ten smooth hummable tracks here including "Lonesome Sound," "Still Got You," and "Dirty Engine." Recommended for fans of The Shoes.
Did rock superstars Radiohead steal local band Paper Arrows' idea?
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Did rock superstars Radiohead steal local band Paper Arrows' idea? When local indie outfit Paper ...Did rock superstars Radiohead steal local band Paper Arrows' idea?
When local indie outfit Paper Arrows recently finished recording its album "Look Alive," the band was eager to let people hear it.
"I really wanted feedback on it," vocalist Joe Goodkin said, "and the fastest, cheapest way to get it was by e-mailing mp3s."
Within hours of walking out of the recording studio, Goodkin had e-mailed his group's new music to several people.
"That process was so easy and instantly rewarding, we thought that we could expand it in scope and spread the word about the band through some viral marketing," he said.
Paper Arrows, including bassist Jay Marino and drummer Darren Garvey, decided to release "Look Alive's" title track as a single via e-mail too.
Anyone can have the single for free, Goodkin said, as long as they join Paper Arrows' mailing list and forward an e-mail about the song to a few friends.
"I had no idea what to expect, but it was a huge success," he said. "The song made its way to England, Italy, Russia, as well as all over the U.S."
This alternate approach to releasing new music isn't entirely different from Radiohead's online album release, in which fans were able to download the group's entire "In Rainbows" record for whatever cost they felt was reasonable. Goodkin was happy to see the gamble pay off for Radiohead, even if, he joked, "They stole our idea and got all the press!"
Joking aside, Goodkin thinks more and more bands will begin using alternate methods of releasing their music.
"The bottom line is that more music in more people's hands eventually leads to more exposure for a band," he said. "I don't care what Lars Ulrich [of Metallica] says."
Paper Arrows are a fresh alt/rock band from Chicago doing things right
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The Paper Arrows are a fresh alt/rock band from Chicago doing things right! Telling stories with cla...The Paper Arrows are a fresh alt/rock band from Chicago doing things right! Telling stories with clarity and using the instrumentation to evoke rich emotion is their strong suit (and when it comes to writing music, is there really anything else?)
Song like Things We Would Rather Lose capture the vibe of roots rock and singable americana, whereas Til I Couldn't Cry slows things down in a perfect piano led gospel rock track. Its an intimate track that's polished enough for pop-appeal, but raw enough that Goodkin's vocals rip to the heart, and when he jumps to falsetto all is well in the world.
On One More Quiet Song, the band brings in The Cosmic Unity for horn support and adds a totally different element to the band's sound - a sort of Mighty Mighty Boss Tones meets Counting Crows feel. And as the album comes to rest with Explosions Below, they again create an acoustic Adam Duritzy vibe as Goodkin's vocals passionately paint vivid imagery as he wails..."the last thing that she gave me!"
Buy this album, see them live, thank me later.
Paper Arrows play some pretty amazing aural tricks
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Paper Arrows play some pretty amazing aural tricks - one moment they evoke Jack Joseph Puig-produced...Paper Arrows play some pretty amazing aural tricks - one moment they evoke Jack Joseph Puig-produced Canadian band Big Wreck with its thundering 22? kick and triple amped hollow body guitars, the next lead singer Joe Goodkin sounds like the love child of Neil Young and Thom Yorke. But somehow the band manages to avoid the amateurish dilemma of failing to lock onto an identifiable sound; if something binds the widely varied nature of Paper Arrows songs it’s the open-sounding, live-feeling and beautifully recorded production and performance. They could stand head-to-head with Jason Falkner, Goo Goo Dolls, Jellyfish and never risk getting lumped in with overly-precious mandatory ballads by Nickelback. There is something too honest and raw in their latest recordings that include everything from 80’s synths to glockenspiel, player piano to harmonium and yet feel like the main ingredient is lots and lots of moving air - expansive and organic, rootsy and totally contemporary, this is gorgeously realized stuff indeed.
Nice smooth accessible pop
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Nice smooth accessible pop. Things We Would Rather Lose is the second full-length release from Chica...Nice smooth accessible pop. Things We Would Rather Lose is the second full-length release from Chicago, Illinois-based band Paper Arrows. At a point in time when so many bands are aping specific styles of music and relying on technology more than songwriting abilities, this album comes across sounding nice and refreshing. Paper Arrows tunes fit within the category of pop music...but the band's songs are by no means generic predictable fodder. These fellows craft their songs with a cool preciseness...and they come across sounding genuine and real. The vocals are particularly appealing. Instead of over rehearsed perfection, the vocals are loose enough that they give the listener the feeling the words are coming from the heart. So maybe that's the best way to sum this one up...pop music that comes from the heart. Yeah, that's it. That may sound kinda pompous or hokey, but when you hear the music you'll know why. This is a short album that lasts just over 30 minutes. But as we all know, in the world of music quality is almost always more important than quantity. Strong proficient tunes include "More" (such a great opening track), "One More Quiet Song," and "Almost Gone." Cool resonant stuff. (Rating: 5)
Things We Would Rather Lose Has a Grand Feel To It
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On Myspace, you’ve probably seen the music category called “melodramatic pop song,” and much of Pape...On Myspace, you’ve probably seen the music category called “melodramatic pop song,” and much of Paper Arrows’ new album fits the bill. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with someone pouring feelings into a song — that’s often what we want, right? The ultimate assessment, though, will weigh how much is real and how much is contrived, and that’s not always easy to discern.
Things We Would Rather Lose has a grand feel to it, meaning that it seems to have aspirations beyond independent releases. It has AOR stamped on its sound. Recognizably mainstream bands like Nickelback and the band that did the song “Freshman” have given a few cues to Paper Arrows; clearly a lot of time and effort went into crafting and recording these songs. There’s a lyrcical focus here: losing love. It’s a staple of music, though, so you can’t be too hard on the musicians pushing it. However, some of the imagery and wordsmithing do come off a little cliched. “Turning the page on the last piece of love that she gave me” mixes metaphors, and lines like “I cried and cried / Until I couldn’t cry no more” don’t do much for those seeking poetry.
There’s a song called “Crystal” where the music really takes off. It’s pleasantly moody in the verses, anthemic in the choruses. It’s not exactly Shakespearean in the lyrics (”Crystal dreams they tend to break / Crystal hearts they can’t be shaped”) but it’s a good song. “How the Heart Moves On” might be a good indicator of why this album was written — getting over a failed love — and it’s also got a decent chorus. The ballad “Almost Gone” might shoot for the authentic expression of, say, Mark Kozelek or Mark Eitzel, but these guys don’t seem to put any effort into conveying the dread and sadness of their material.
If you’re a fan of Wilco, Death Cab, or Elbow and crave something new, give Paper Arrows a shot.
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Only a year out from their debut album Look Alive, the mates Chicago-based Paper Arrows didn’t rest ...Only a year out from their debut album Look Alive, the mates Chicago-based Paper Arrows didn’t rest on their alternative laurels. They take their music in a new direction on Things We Would Rather Lose, released in April of this year.
While Look Alive featured a lighter side of the band’s repertoire, their sophomore entry showcases their grungier wardrobe. Like any new style choice, Paper Arrows needs time to add their own nuances to make it work. Things We Would Rather Lose is a step in that direction, but it’s not a final destination by any means.
Vocalist Joe Goodkin details the band’s creative process on their MySpace page, saying the band “really had no pre-conceived notions of what we wanted to do with any of the nine songs we wound up recording [out of a collection of twenty-five written since Look Alive was released], and that freed us up to use a variety of instruments and sounds.”
That’s exactly how the album as a whole comes across. As if they had no idea what they really wanted to achieve. It’s a hodgepodge of sounds and ideas that never find the underlying creative element to tie them all together.
At least Goodkin has a unique enough voice to keep you listening. However, the so-so mixes on the instrumental tracks detract from the overall sound. Again, they need more polish.
Don’t misunderstand the criticism, because Things We Would Rather Lose features some great tracks like “Crystal” and “One More Quiet Song” that you’ll want to queue up again and again. But on the whole, Lose sounds like a solid start of a demo, not like a finished product. With the twenty-five songs they wrote, you’d think they had a few extra to add to the album’s nine, a paltry total.
For fans or those with disposable incomes, simply buy both albums and make a mix. You’ll have a fantastic array of material. As a stand-alone EP however, Things falls short.
I would love to see how Paper Arrows follows up with a third release. By that time they should have a better understanding of what specific direction they’d like to head. They sure don’t seem to have one in mind now.
If you’re a fan of Wilco, Death Cab, or Elbow and crave something new, give Paper Arrows a shot. Otherwise, continue listening to those bands; they’re solid bets.
Paper Arrows is the only artist on the Chicago-based Quell Records label. For performances around the Windy City, check their MySpace page or the Quell Records website. You can buy either of their releases from Cdbaby.com or on iTunes.
Vocalist/guitarist Joe Goodkin is the unifying force on Things We Would Rather Lose
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Vocalist/guitarist Joe Goodkin is the unifying force on Things We Would Rather Lose, the eclectic se...Vocalist/guitarist Joe Goodkin is the unifying force on Things We Would Rather Lose, the eclectic second release from Paper Arrows. He’s the main songwriter, and his distinctive vocals bring a sense of realism to intimate material like “Til I Couldn’t Cry” as well as catchy rock tunes like “One More Quiet Song.” The unique title track features piano and organ as the lead instruments, along with haunting harmony vocals.
Hits the Pause Button on Racing Pulses
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The debut album from Paper Arrows, Look Alive, swoops in and hits the pause button on racing pulses....The debut album from Paper Arrows, Look Alive, swoops in and hits the pause button on racing pulses. The trio crafts somber melodies that would make Adam Duritz proud. Joe Goodkin’s vocals even slightly resemble the Counting Crows frontman. While Duritz sings about Maria in every song, the gal Goodkin pines for in these 10 tracks is up for grabs. Along with bassist Jay Marino and drummer Darren Garvey, Goodkin is a formidable bundle of angst. “Why I Had To Fall” pays homage to The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” while “When You Left” owes a debt, strangely enough, to Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here.”
Set length from 45 to 75 minutes. Covers include tunes by The Band, Led Zep, and others
There are no upcoming dates at this time.