Paper Arrows

Chicagoist

While the rest of Chicago is groaning at the thought of the weekend and the continued onslaught of snow showers it will bring, Joe Goodkin is excited. This weekend he'll celebrate his fifth release under the moniker Paper Arrows.

Paper Arrows headlines Schubas this Sunday, Jan. 26. The show will serve as a release party for the band's newest EP Good News For Love.

As the name would suggest, Good News continues Paper Arrows' tendency to write romance-filled compositions, "literate love songs" as the band refers to them on its website. Thematically, the six new songs on this release aren't a stretch for Goodkin but musically this EP will make fans do a double take.

Throughout Paper Arrows' existence, their songs have—at times—sounded like an identity crisis set to music. The band struggled to determine its niche, plucky indie rock or hearty Americana roots music. Finally, it seems they've settled. The twang on Good News For Love is more defined, the tempo slowed and the songs warmer and more full-bodied.

We know what you might be thinking. Slow rolling love songs? Sounds sappy.

Not so. These songs are some of the most sophisticated rock tunes we’ve heard from Paper Arrows to date.

Groupon

A paper arrow probably wouldn’t do much damage if it struck you in the heart. You can’t say the same about Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Goodkin, who has played under the name Paper Arrows since 2008. Goodkin knows how to hit his listeners in the gut, whether he’s singing about heartbreak or stepping back from the mic to let his guitar do the talking. Goodkin’s fifth and latest studio album is titled Good News for Love, but what it really is is good news for people sick of hipster posturing and yearning for music with some real emotional meat on its bones. “If you fail, if you fall, sing it out,” Goodkin pleads on the album’s first single, setting the stage for an album that seems tailor-made for the broken and confused.

Though Good News came out in October of last year, Goodkin and his bandmates are finally getting together to celebrate its release at Schubas Tavern (3159 N. Southport Ave.) on Sunday, January 26. It’s a long overdue party, but the delay seems fitting for a band that revels in chronicling the slow, sad passage of time.

Yahoo

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. They have completed several albums, earned air time, made it to the small screen, and completed a residency at Schubas, but Paper Arrows seems destined for more than just playing around in Chicago.

Luckily, band member Joe Goodkin was kind enough to give me the scoop on Paper Arrows:

How did you guys meet, and what led to the formation of Paper Arrows?

Goodkin: "We [Goodkin, Jay Marino, and Darren Garvey] were in separate bands managed by the same agent and shared a couple stages on local bills here in Chicago. I was in the band Burn Rome Burn, and Jay and Darren were in a band called Buddy Nuisance. I had a set of songs that I liked, but they weren't appropriate for Burn Rome Burn. Jay offered to help me record these songs in an attic studio he was building. We originally intended to record a sparse, mostly acoustic album, but Darren lived downstairs from the studio, and at some point in the recording process, he started contributing drums, keys, and a number of other instruments. In 2008, those recordings became our first record, 'Look Alive.' Paper Arrows has since been the three of us plus a rotating cast of additional musicians."

How does living in Chicago inspire your music?

Goodkin: "It's just a great place to set up shop. There are great recording studios and a bunch of wonderful venues. Creatively, I've always thought that Chicago has an amazing energy without being overwhelming. That's why our first video was kind of a little love letter to our city."

How would you classify your music?

Goodkin: "I've been scolded for referring to it as indie, because apparently that implies a certain production aesthetic that is most certainly not us. I think of us as just an old fashioned rock band."

How has Paper Arrows grown over the years?

Goodkin: "The most exciting thing about the group to me is we've changed up our process and our sound on pretty much each project. 'Look Alive' was a spare, almost accidental record. 'Things We Would Rather Lose' is dense and loud and has different sounds like a horn section. 'In the Morning' we tracked almost entirely in three days, with the whole band recording the basic tracks together in a room. 'Days of Getting By' we recorded one song each studio session, starting with nothing in the morning and then finishing with it arranged, tracked, and nearly mixed by the end of the day. It's fun and energizing to work that way."

What is Paper Arrows' biggest accomplishment?

Goodkin: "Hearing our music on MTV and E! on a number of shows was pretty cool. Our biggest creative accomplishment has been creating a group of records that are cohesive without being repetitive."

When did you discover your writing abilities?

Goodkin: "I'm still discovering them. What I found was, the more honest I was, the better. I also learned to embrace vision in the right ways. I view Paper Arrows' catalog as a continually developing narrative, and I try to keep it as cohesive as possible."

Will you keep a fast pace for putting out records?

Goodkin: "Yes, we plan on keeping our fast pace for putting out records. Just after the first of the year, we'll be recording a new EP, which we anticipate will be released in spring of 2013."

LMNOP

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.

Aidabet

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.

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

Chicago Tribune

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."

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.

Awaken Music

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?) Songs 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.

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.

MusicZeitgeist.com

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.