Thursday, November 02, 2006
First Alert - T.V. Masturbation
First Alert T.V. Masturbation 7" (Mangrove, 1997)
Now its back to the land of perfectly realized powerpop action, which in the 90s was largely Japan. First Alert are a really good example of how bands in the Japanese scene have changed over the years, those that have stuck around that is. They started out in roughly the mid-90s with records like this one: tough, fast, catchy punk with the requisite 70s punk-via-Registrators sound. There are very very few Japanese bands that aped the Registrators sound from this period that suck, trust me, it was too hard to put out a record at all in Japan to even consider sucking. This sound template produced dozens of great 45s from about 1994-99.
Then, powerpop started to take over the Japanese scene, and the proportions started to slip. It is far more challenging to write and perform effectively in that style with real conviction, especially when the language barrier is factored in. Also, Japanese studios tend to slick up whatever they touch anyway, so starting down the path of channeling the Chords, the Snips or Rachel Sweet is playing right into their digitally-frosted mitts. For every Tweezers there was a Mach Pelican. Even the Registrators themselves floundered during this period post-1999, producing meandering, flaccid material drenched in flange and reverb and sub-New Romantic vocal keening. First Alert also went powerpop, but they managed to come out the other side as a very effective mod-pop ensemble whose records are almost as enjoyable as Firestarter's. Quite a relief actually. Track them down if you can, they won't set you back as much as the Tweezers 45 anyway. -Ryan W.