Despite the fact that Rock music is fast fading
from the collective unconsious of our society (ask little kids
what they want to be when they grow up thesedays -- no one will
answer "rock star". "Rapper", maybe. "Rock star", definitely
not!), America still appears to be infested with underground
rock bands: slinging guitars and playing, night after night,
in smokey dives to thankless crowds. God bless 'em -- i adore
First Night on Earth are just such a band from Charlotte, NC.
Right smack dab in the middle of Tha South. And they do, indeed,
rock the righteous underground rock.
This album reeks of Indie to me, specifically because it has
a vague feeling of "we don't know what we're doing, but we'll
produce it anyway". (Which i have ranted
about here before.) That is to say, at times the production
is a little sketchy. The drums sound flat and underproduced,
and they are almost buried under the weight of guitar noise
this band makes. And on top of that are the voices: 2 voices
in this band, mostly Wes Grastly, and usually the backing vocals
of Tina Cargill. The two of them make a good team. And on the
whole, even though his voice is wayyy out front, it works.
Really. I have spent a good deal of time listening to this
disc and that Cold After
disc one after the other. Both have similar recording techniques
(or lack thereof) and yet, this one works so much better. Why
is that? i have no clue really, but for some reason First Night
on Earth comes across much better than The Cold After.
It might have something to do with musicianship. Looking at
their Bio, Wes Grastly is a refugee from the Charlotte band
Laburnum. So he's been at this a while, and presumable so have
the rest of them. I think it is this experience which shines
through. So that, even though the production is a little primative,
the talent and experience of the persons involved shows and
makes it sound good.
Their experience helps, but it also helps that the songs all
sound good. First Night on Earth has a knack for writing old
school shoegazer tunes with catchy rhtymic hooks and deep walls
of swirling guitar sound. Now, i really like this sort of stuff,
and to me they do it very well. Other shoegazers i have chatted
with on the Internet also seem to think that First Night on
Earth do this stuff well, so that's something.
It is, really, the guitarwork that draws me to this album.
And there are several wonderful moments. My favorite is the
song Subside. Rich and fuzzy chorused guitars are combined
with dueling vocals from Grastly, Grastly, and Cargill. What
i mean is, he and she sing, but he is also layered underneath.
It adds some more depth to this tune, and combines really well
with the guitarwork.
The dueling voices of Cargill and Grastly also stand out on
The Other Knowers. Here, she sings a counter-melody to
his voice, while keys and guitars chime. Its a light delicate
tune that builds to a frenzy of guitar.
And even though the drums often sound flat, on Someday
the rhythm section really earns their keep. Drummer Vance Carlisle
plays a nice back beat, while bassist Chris London lays down
with the deep post-punk plodding riff. The songs trudges along
quite nicely, with guitars sounding like The Chamleons in the
mid-80's (when they were at their best).
In general First Night on Earth's songs follow the slow-building
guitar noise style of the shoegazer genre. They do it well,
and combined with the dueling male-female vocals, i am reminded
of Slowdive. Not specifically mind you, just in a vague sort
of way. Which is to say that although i recognize many of the
influences that went into this album, it still comes out sounding
fresh. To me at least. But as i have said i like this stuff
a lot. And i think that other fans of effected guitar pop will
find much to enjoy here.
First Night on Earth are, probably even better live. Something
about the fury of guitars and drums just comes across better
in smokey, dingy rooms. I don't know why that is, but i have
observed the phenomenon often enough to be fairly certain that
this band will rock in concert. They will be at the 10-High
in the Virginia Higlands on Thursday.30.January.2003, and if
you are curious i think you should check them out. If you can't
make it to that show, look for them to travel to your town.
I bet it'll be fun.