DESCENDING SHADOWS - Pierced Arrows (Vice Music)
What makes a rock and roll hero? Are the Rolling Stones heroes simply because they continue to pound their way through the world’s stadia? Well, no. Regardless of how you feel about their music, the Stones have a huge marketing machine to keep them rolling on from town to town. Forget the clichés, it’s bloody easy to keep on going when you’re a star. When you have two personal assistants for every boy, how difficult could it be?
If you want to see what it takes to be a rock and roll hero, try playing for the better part of five decades without a hit record or industry support. Welcome to the world of Fred Cole. Maybe you’ve heard him on the Nuggets compilation performing “You Must be a Witch” with the Lollipop Shoppe. Maybe you heard the band he formed with his wife, Toody. They called themselves Dead Moon and they played for twenty odd years earning themselves a small but dedicated fan base but none of the perks you’d expect from such longevity.
If you haven’t heard of Dead Moon, you should have. Really. If you haven’t heard of them, you’ve missed a huge chunk of your rock and roll education. I’d advise you to put this review down now and do some homework. Don’t bother coming back to this page until you’re up to speed. I mean it.
When Dead Moon split, it took about six months for Pierced Arrows to emerge from the wreckage. The only change in personnel was new drummer Kelly Halliburton. At first it was fairly difficult to see where one band ended and the new one begun. When they played at the Annandale in Sydney, their set certainly had its fair share of Dead Moon material and, unsurprisingly, the new songs didn’t sound a million miles from the former band. The album that followed (“Straight to the Heart”) didn’t fall too from the tree either. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I loved both the album and the gig. I’m simply stating facts.
Fans of Dead Moon will not be disappointed by “Descending Shadows”. All the elements you know and love are present. However, with this new release, Pierced Arrows move closer to a distinct sound of their own. Along with traditional rock and roll, they play with beats you might associate with Native American music. There are melodies that clearly come from a folk tradition and there’s the slightest hint of country. That shouldn’t put you off. The band still kicks out the jams with an unholy fury. Fred Cole continues to scream like a hell hound gargling cement. They are the same as they’ve always been only more so.
Best of all is the uncompromising way this material is recorded. You can just hear how live it all sounds. There are no overdubs to fill the gaps in guitar solos. This is the sound of a band just going for it. It is just so refreshing to hear people playing instead of the drizzle of a mixing desk with an onboard computer package. Pierced Arrows do their best to remind us what it is like to be human in a world that no longer admires that quality. Support them. - Bob Short
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