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  No One Knows Anything for Sure ...  
  First Night on Earth  
Release Date:
  early 2002  
Reviewed by:

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 this stuff.

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.

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