Paper Arrows

The Story of Paper Arrows

Since 2008, Chicago-based singer/songwriter Joe Goodkin has been writing and recording literate love songs under the name Paper Arrows.

Across the winters of 2008, Goodkin, joined by producer Jay Marino and multi-instrumentalist Darren Garvey, pieced together a group of ten songs in a Chicago attic overlooking I-90.  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?"), Goodkin returned to the studio to begin what would become the second full-length Paper Arrows record, 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 original trio of Goodkin, Marino, and Garvey. 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, VH1, and PBS programming) and in the summer of 2010, an appended Paper Arrows line-up (now consisting of Goodkin, Marino, Garvey and pianist Drew Scalercio) spent three days at I.V. Lab Studios in Chicago tracking a 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 Paper Arrows 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."

Sessions in 2011 and 2012 produced what would become the fourth Paper Arrows release, 2013's Days of Getting By EP, which featured the song Tell the Kids, Goodkin's "feel-good ode to divorce and child-custody." Tell the Kids continues to be the most well-received Paper Arrows song to date and Goodkin performed an acoustic version of it for the NBC-syndicated TV show the Jimmy Lloyd Songwriter Showcase.

A weekend at The Midwest Sound in Rockford produced the fifth Paper Arrows release, the six song EP Good News for Love, which was released in late 2013  Goodkin was joined by old friend Darren Garvey (acting as producer) along with guitarist Daniel McMahon and bassist Miles Nielsen.  Of Good News for Love Chicagoist wrote "[its] songs are some of the most sophisticated rock tunes we’ve heard from Paper Arrows to date" and Groupon said "[the record] is good news for people sick of hipster posturing and yearning for music with some real emotional meat on its bones."  The lead single Sing It Out was licensed to retailer Old Navy for in-store usage and the EP has found substantial play in both college and AAA radio formats.