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Shoegazer 101 Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze or shoegazer; practitioners referred to as shoegazers) is a genre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted until the mid 1990s, peaking circa 1990 to 1991. The British music press (notably NME and Melody Maker) called this genre "shoegazing" because the musicians in these bands often maintained a motionless performing style, standing on stage and staring at the floor while playing their instruments; hence, the idea that they were gazing at their shoes. The shoegazing sound featured extensive use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blended into the creative noise of the guitars. Some notable bands are Ride, Lush, Swervedriver, Slowdive, Curve, and American bands Lilys and the Swirlies.

Some notable songs:

Jesus and Mary Chain - North London Poly Riot

Curve - Chinese Burn
Curve - Horror Head
Curve - Crystal

My Bloody Valentine - Soon
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow
My Bloody Valentine - Cigarette in Your Bed

Ride - Vapor Trail
Ride - Leave Them All Behind
Ride - Twisterella

Swervedriver - Wrong Treats
Swervedriver - Duel
Swervedriver - Rave Down

Slowdive - Allison
Slowdive - Shine
Slowdive - Catch the Breeze

the Swirlies - Bell

Blonde Redhead - My Impure Hair

Lush - Superblast
Lush - Nothing Natural

How did they make such beautiful noise? Here's a look at some of the guitar/effects rigs of some of the genre's foremost progenitors:

Andy Bell
Adam Franklin
Jimmy Hartridge
Belinda Butcher
Kevin Shields
Christian Savill
Neil Halstead
Rachel Goswell

And, of course, no discussion of Shoegaze would be complete without a mention of its George Martin, Alan Moulder.
posted by psmealey (113 comments total) 105 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's funny you should post this now, I love shoegaze and I'm listening to nothing but at the moment. If anyone hears this stuff and likes the sound, please just do yourself a favour and buy Loveless by MBV. There is no other record.
posted by Ted Maul at 7:58 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And here's another great shoegaze song: Pearl by Chapterhouse
posted by Ted Maul at 7:59 AM on October 3, 2007


By the way they stared at their endless line of effects pedals, not their shoes. Also, some stuff isn't straight NME shoegaze (what a dumb name), but certainly is effect laden and wooshy. Think Galaxie 500.

Current interpretations:

Blonde Redhead : Spring and by Summer Fall
Silversun Pickups : Common Reactor
Dykehouse : Sunset Rose
posted by four panels at 8:05 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always thought this stuff was called 'dreampop', because of the overwhelming reverb, chorus, and delay effects they'd use.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:07 AM on October 3, 2007


Psh, the best MBV song is easily You Made Me Realise. Also, I have to recommend a lesser-known shoegaze band from Sarah Records back in the day - Secret Shine! If you can track down their Loveblind EP you will just piss your pants it's so wonderful. Anyway, great post, especially the equipment details.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:08 AM on October 3, 2007


Loveless, sure, but Isn't Anything is really overlooked. What a great album. Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside), Lose My Breath, No More Sorry, Sueisfine. All great.

I also thing there's a much easier way to describe this type of music : drugs.
posted by four panels at 8:08 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those Guitar Geek links are worth the price of admission alone. Great post!
posted by chimaera at 8:14 AM on October 3, 2007


Loveless, sure, but Isn't Anything is really overlooked.

Agreed, but Isn't Anything is pretty much a straight ahead pop record. Loveless was that giant step forward into forging the new sound that became known as shoegaze.
posted by psmealey at 8:15 AM on October 3, 2007


A few years ago Berlin's Morr Music released an album of various IDM/ambient artists covering the entire Slowdive record Souvlaki.
posted by four panels at 8:17 AM on October 3, 2007


i think i mentioned them in an ask.mefi thread, but 7% solution is pretty shoegazy. its hard to find their album "all about satellites and spaceships", but its a real gem. their other album isnt nearly as shoegazy.

also early Verve can be considered shoegazing. Verve was a great band before ashcroft's solo ambitions turned "the verve" into something else. "a storm in heaven" is their masterpiece. also the verve EP is really great.
posted by joeblough at 8:19 AM on October 3, 2007


That 'Cigarette in Your Bed' link has to be one of the best-edited fan videos I've seen. The music's good too, and folksy by MBV standards.
posted by ardgedee at 8:19 AM on October 3, 2007


Don't get me wrong, I love just about everything by MBV, especially their EPs, but Loveless is just such a beautifully crafted record from start to finish and it never loses its depth for me. "There is no other record" might be a bit strong!
posted by Ted Maul at 8:20 AM on October 3, 2007


So if were talking bands that started as shoegaze and ended as something else, Blur definitely needs a mention. They were the most popular early shoegazers in North America. At least in my house.

And I've always thought that Garbage owes Curve half their income, at least. The similarities are uncanny.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:22 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice.

Early Verve may count too, before they got all rock.
posted by Artw at 8:23 AM on October 3, 2007


Man, I love Ride. There's an interview with Mark Gardner here with some Ride stuff and some more of what he's up to now.

I actually find Loveless quite hard to listen to, whereas Ride's Nowhere could just sit on repeat as far as I'm concerned.

A good chunk of the main players were on Creation Records (Andy Bell from Ride went on to join Oasis) and the Creation Compilation has some great shoegazing (and other) moments.
posted by jontyjago at 8:24 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, on the fringes of this genre, I recommend Spiritualized[tm]
posted by psmealey at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2007


Early Blur was more baggy wannabe than shoegaze wannabe. Especially live. I saw Damon take an entire speaker stack down at an early gig, whereas seeing Slowdive was one of the most soporific experiences of my life (the other one being Spiritualized, psmealey - those fuckers just don't move!)
posted by jontyjago at 8:29 AM on October 3, 2007


Barry: How about the Jesus and Mary Chain?
Barry's Customer: They always seemed...
Barry: They always seemed what? They always seemed really great is what they always seemed. They picked up where your precious Echo left off, and you're sitting around complaining about no more Echo albums. I can't believe you don't own this fucking record. That's insane! Jesus!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:44 AM on October 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I saw Blur on their first tour. It was Damon Albans birthday and they were all so drunk they could barely stand, nevermind play. They played badly for fifteen minutes, screamed thank you Vancouver and walked off the stage. I was young and dumb, rather than demanding my money back I was enraptured with the rock and roll-ness of the whole thing.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:45 AM on October 3, 2007


Check out the new album by The Shocking Pinks, a New Zealand import (on LCD Soundsystem's label DFA). All of the gaze, but with ultra short songs.

It's good... my favourite release of 2007 (so far)
posted by Quartermass at 8:45 AM on October 3, 2007


"There is no other record" might be a bit strong!

I don't think it's too strong. When, in 1991, I was shaken out of my rock-is-dead-I'm-listening-to-jazz-only post college phase by the earthquake triggered by Nirvana, I bought four records: Nevermind, Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque, Sonic Youth's Goo and Loveless. I played all of them to death, to the point where I can barely stand to listen to the first two, the third, I can still put on from time to time, but only for nostalgia's sake, but Loveless, I just don't tire of it. For whatever reason, I can pull it out any time, day or night, put it on (I'm onto my fourth or fifth copy of it at this point), and it just hits me right.

Whether something to listen to during dinner, working at home, hanging with friends at a bar, or for that occasional late afternoon nap time hour, it's just the perfect record.
posted by psmealey at 8:49 AM on October 3, 2007


Sure, there are a lot of bands continuing the shoegaze tradition, but there are also a few that are taking that core sound and expanding it in various directions. Here are some examples.

Grouper is Liz Harris. She takes late Slowdive as a starting point and works from there. Like Slowdive, it's all reverb and floating voices.

The guy from Godflesh has gone in an almost Ride-like shoegaze direction lately with Jesu. Others are taking this idea further on individual tracks, for example the lead tracks on The Psychic Paramount's Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural and Boris's Pink.

Bands like Manual, Nathan Fake, and M83 are mixing classic shoegaze ideas with electronic music.

Drone bands such as Birchville Cat Motel are descendants of both shoegaze and noise bands. Listen especially to songs like "Chi Vampires", "Firepower Flagrant Cloud", and the ones on this year's "Birds Call Home Their Dead". Compare these to Ride's "Grasshopper", for instance. Other songs like "55,000 Flowers For The Hero" take this same sound in a more Jesus and Mary Chain direction.
posted by Hubajube at 8:50 AM on October 3, 2007


No mention of Cocteau Twins in a thread about shoegaze???
posted by infobomb at 8:54 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


What? No Cocteau Twins? Elizabeth Fraser is the queen of shoegaze.

Also, Ulrich Schnauss is making music that used to be shoegaze inspired electronica but is leaning more and more on the guitars and the reverb as time goes on. A Strangely Isolated Place was genius and the new album, Goodbye is still pretty good listening.
posted by felix betachat at 8:59 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Loop's 'A Gilded Eternity' was an album that fell in and out of favor with me a few times. Whether it's shoegaze is one of those things best decided by people who like to argue about it - as far as I'm concerned it's got the shoegaze groove, although it's at the noisy end of the genre.

I finally sold it off during a decluttering binge. I still kick myself for that.
posted by ardgedee at 9:01 AM on October 3, 2007


More of the inspired by (if not actually) shoegaze crowd:

Midnight Movies
Asobi Seksu
A Place To Bury Strangers (carbon copy JAMC)
The Big Sleep
Sereena Maneesh
On! Air! Library!
posted by eyeballkid at 9:01 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I second Ulrich Schnauss.

This could turn into a geeky argument, but I see the Cocteau Twins as dream pop as opposed to shoegazer. I'm not sure where the line lies, though.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:02 AM on October 3, 2007


Lift to Experience's debut (and so far only album) "The texas jerusalem crossroads" is a shoegazing classic. Here's the single, "these are the days".
posted by oh pollo! at 9:04 AM on October 3, 2007


This is a motherfucking shoegaze linkfest. Thank you everyone!
posted by four panels at 9:10 AM on October 3, 2007


thanks for all the suggestions. already downloaded dykehouse from emusic.
posted by joeblough at 9:19 AM on October 3, 2007


thirding early Verve, the first EP and A Storm in Heaven are two of my top 10 albums. In particular, check out "A Man Called Sun," "Beautiful Mind," or "Already There."
posted by trinarian at 9:20 AM on October 3, 2007


@oh pollo!

I am actually wearing my Lift To Experience shirt while I work from home today. I absolutely love that record.

I generally try to warn people about the lyrical content before reccommending it, though. It starts off with the concept that Texas is the New Jerusalem, and goes from there. And I'm pretty sure they mean it...
posted by so1omon at 9:22 AM on October 3, 2007


A defining characteristic of shoegaze is the earsplitting volume of the live shows, and the interesting effect that quality had on blending the medlodies and harmonies. As good as Cocteau Twins were, they just didn't have that quality. Theirs was a bit airier, more ethereal.
posted by psmealey at 9:24 AM on October 3, 2007


Let's not forget AMP, Seefeel, and The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.
posted by RGD at 9:24 AM on October 3, 2007


I was trying to explain showgaze to a friend of mine just yesterday, even as I was trying to recover from my brother's affection for Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars'. The debt there is inscalculable, but the fey, romantic sensibility of SP positively makes me want to vomit.

Give me Ride or Catherine Wheel anytime, though.
posted by vhsiv at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2007


Let me also add that I love posts like this. I was a teenage shoegazer, and find it funny that now that I'm fat and old, the music I have loved all these years is suddenly "hip".

And Cocteau Twins was definitely more "dreampop" than shoegaze. Most shoegaze music was LOUD.

On preview... psmealey beat me to it.
posted by so1omon at 9:27 AM on October 3, 2007


Catherine Wheel. Good call, forgot about them.
posted by psmealey at 9:28 AM on October 3, 2007


""There is no other record" might be a bit strong!"

Oh, fuck yer "No other record" bullshit. Loveless is endlessly over-rated. I remember hearing it and goin' "This is what all the hype was about?" It's pleasant, and I do like the production, but there are a million other albums that do similar things that I'd rather listen to (part of it's not liking the girl's voice or where it's mixed).

Gimme good ol' Spacemen 3 covering "Rollercoaster." Or LAGWAFIS by that drugged-out goon.

Whenever I hear Loveless, I think "Pretty, but there's no oomph."

(This is also why I don't buy Cocteau Twins albums).
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on October 3, 2007


Spacemen 3 please.

on preview, thank you klang.
posted by hellbient at 9:35 AM on October 3, 2007


Let me also add that I love posts like this. I was a teenage shoegazer, and find it funny that now that I'm fat and old, the music I have loved all these years is suddenly "hip".

Hip? No I think everyone else in this thread is old and fat too.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:37 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hip? No I think everyone else in this thread is old and fat too.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:37 PM on October 3


27 and 175, thanks.
posted by four panels at 9:39 AM on October 3, 2007


Oh, fuck yer "No other record" bullshit. Loveless is endlessly over-rated.

MetaFilter poster in "loves album" shocker, news at 11...
posted by Ted Maul at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2007


felix betachat, Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins reinterpreted a couple of Ulrich Schnauss's songs on his Quicksand Memory EP. Two great tastes that taste great together!

BTW, I'm seeing Ulrich live tonight. The two opening bands are almost straight up shoegaze. It'll be interesting to see how it affects his live set.
posted by zsazsa at 9:47 AM on October 3, 2007


I took a lot of shit in the early 90's for passing around Souvlaki to my friends, and as a result I never really probed much deeper. Still love and listen to that album on a regular basis, but this thread is totally getting faved and later mined for suggestions.

Great post.
posted by butterstick at 9:48 AM on October 3, 2007


Thanks for this! A few more links that may be of interest:

"C'Mon"--A Sunny Day in Glasgow

"Throwing Back the Apple"--Pale Saints

"Feedback to the Future" is a great comp, if you're interested in this scene.
posted by carrienation at 9:49 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, this thread takes me straight back to college. Curve was one of my favorite bands and I was very excited to get to see them in Philly in 1993.

Ride was also great, I used to listen to "Vapor Trail" on repeat. Catherine Wheel's "Crank" was another song I used to listen to over and over.
posted by pombe at 9:53 AM on October 3, 2007


Threads like this make me happy there's a firefox search plugin for OiNK.
posted by signal at 9:54 AM on October 3, 2007


"Longwave" - Tidal Wave Great stuff.
posted by parma at 9:56 AM on October 3, 2007


You guys would like my Shoegaze/Dream Pop station on Pandora :
posted by Afroblanco at 9:57 AM on October 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the rig links, psmealey!
posted by NationalKato at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2007


Of course loveless is endlessly over rated. That's what happens when you are the most popular band of your genre and time (see Beatles, Oasis, Nirvana etc etc etc). It's still a fucking amazing album though. Fingers crossed the reunion happens, never did get to see them back in the day.
posted by twistedonion at 10:20 AM on October 3, 2007


My enthusiasm for Ride* actually persuaded me to settle in OX4 when I moved to Oxford. Apart from that, my closest encounter has been passing by Andy Bell as he walked into the Cornmarket WHSmith.
Oh, and we're building Gaz from Supergrass's Dad's house, but they're not really shoegaze.

*Nowhere, Today Forever, Grasshopper & Going Blank Again Ride that is
posted by Flashman at 10:23 AM on October 3, 2007


@Keith Talent...

Everyone else in here may very well be old and fat, but I'm referring to the resurgence in shoegaze music that's been going on over the last few years. The (god strike me dead for using this term) whole "nu"-gaze movement has been picking up steam for quite some time now.

I think this is evidenced by the overabundance of scenester kids at the Spectrum show I saw a few weeks ago. Or the fact that I can't go out while wearing a MBV or Spacemen 3 shirt without somebody stopping me to ask about them.

It's strange... and frankly, it makes me feel even older.
posted by so1omon at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2007


Fingers crossed the reunion happens, never did get to see them back in the day.

They were interesting. Because it was incredibly difficult for them to reproduce a lot of what Alan Moulder did for them on the record in a live setting, they mostly just turned up all the way, and let the club acoustics handle the rest. It was very, very good (made your ears bleed, though), but did not approximate the record. I loved it, but some friends really didn't enjoy it.

Ride and Swervedriver were much more polished as for the live performances went. They both sounded at times like jet wash, but incredibly dense, melodic and powerful.

.I saw Mark Gardener play a solo acoustic show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago a few years ago, and I walked up to him and demanded fair compensation for the loss of upper end hearing and tinnitus that I had acquired at his shows. He bought me a beer. That was good enough for me. True story.
posted by psmealey at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2007


See also Moose & Drop Ninteens & The Telescopes. All great, but overlooked to varying degrees.
posted by activitystory at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


"27 and 175, thanks."

28 and ~225!

As for modern folks doing this, search Wooden Shjips.
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2007


Supposedly MBV is considering a reunion at Coachella in '08
posted by chillmost at 10:56 AM on October 3, 2007


"27 and 175, thanks."

28 and ~225!


I this thread turning into some kind of dating service?
posted by Keith Talent at 10:58 AM on October 3, 2007


Love this post, love Loveless. That is all.
posted by blucevalo at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2007


Spacemen 3 forever!
posted by milarepa at 11:18 AM on October 3, 2007


this thread turning into some kind of dating service?
We should all be so lucky.
posted by aramaic at 11:19 AM on October 3, 2007


I always thought, and still believe, that the term "shoegazer" was initially derived from a quote by William S. Burroughs that was in fairly wide circulation among mid-80's hipsters: Mr. Burroughs wrote that during the time he was an addict, he did 'absolutely nothing.' He said, 'I could look at the end of my shoe for eight hours.'
posted by newmoistness at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2007


It never ceases to amaze me how when shoegaze and the bands involved are discussed, I feel totally out my element. I recognize the names and all but this style of music just never hit it off with me. And I'm not saying that as a bad thing. It's just weird looking at all the seemingly cool bands mentioned and feeling like I should go get all of their stuff because technically, I should enjoy it.

A bass player friend got me a MBV disc as a birthday gift not long ago. I popped it in the CD player in my car and couldn't listen to it. It just annoyed the hell out of me. Now that it's been awhile, maybe I should (in a better frame of mind) give it a listen again.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:26 AM on October 3, 2007


newmoistness - I had never heard the reference until around 1998. We were auditioning guitar players one and one of our singers disqualified one by calling him a "shoegazer." When I asked what she meant, she said "all the guy did was stare at the floor the whole time." That made sense. It's funny but apropos that William S. Burroughs would have coined it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2007


If it's any consolation, KevinSkomsvold, I felt exactly that same about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album that many of my music crazy friends called one of the best evar. Still don't get it.
posted by psmealey at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2007


KevinSkomsvold -- I have a possibly false but nevertheless very clear memory of having seen the term first in a review in SPIN magazine sometime around 1986 or '87. Can't remember what was being reviewed -- I want to say some album by Felt, but it might have actually been MBV's Loveless. Anyway, the reference seemed clear to me immediately, and I never even considered the possibility that it came form somewhere else.

Then again, you get to be an old fart and the mind starts to play tricks, so who knows.
posted by newmoistness at 11:39 AM on October 3, 2007


...from somewhere else...
posted by newmoistness at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2007


"this thread turning into some kind of dating service?"

I'm only gay for transcendent noise. And maybe Noah Wylie.
posted by klangklangston at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


"If it's any consolation, KevinSkomsvold, I felt exactly that same about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album that many of my music crazy friends called one of the best evar. Still don't get it."

The deep, dark secret is that both of these albums are solid Bs, not the A+s they're represented as.
posted by klangklangston at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2007


Or that music effects different people in different ways.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2007


If this music is resurgent, then why the hell is Swervedriver's epic Mezcal Head still out of print?
posted by Ber at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2007


So if were talking bands that started as shoe gaze and ended as something else, Blur definitely needs a mention.

This comes as a shock to me. Some of the best concerts I've ever seen have been by Blur who never gazed at their shoes but were quite energetic.

I wouldn't even say musically, early, they were anything like these shoe gazer bands. Sure, they weren't as developed and brilliant musically as they became, particularly Damon, but Leisure is just regular competent early album.
posted by juiceCake at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2007


I didn't know Mezcal Head was out of print. Shame. What a mindblowingly beautiful album that is. I still remember the first time I heard "Duel" the way other people remember the first time they heard "Are You Experienced?" or "Astral Weeks" or "Sunshine of Your Love."
posted by blucevalo at 12:06 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


"If it's any consolation, KevinSkomsvold, I felt exactly that same about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, an album that many of my music crazy friends called one of the best evar. Still don't get it."

The deep, dark secret is that both of these albums are solid Bs, not the A+s they're represented as.


For me, both just took a while to get my head around. Same thing with Exile on Main St, Daydream Nation, Pink Flag, and any other number of albums that now rank as my all-time favorites. The first time I played Loveless, I thought my copy was defective because it just sounded so odd to me. I eventually came around, but I still usually skip the first couple songs and start on "To Here Knows When".

And I will hereby nth A Storm in Heaven.
posted by LionIndex at 12:07 PM on October 3, 2007


"Or that music effects different people in different ways."

No.

(This is similar to my explaining to a bar patron last night that of course I have better taste in music than he does, because I know more songs that I like that he knows songs that I like. We both agreed that we each had better taste than his girlfriend.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on October 3, 2007


"For me, both just took a while to get my head around. Same thing with Exile on Main St, Daydream Nation, Pink Flag, and any other number of albums that now rank as my all-time favorites."

Really? All three of those albums just clicked right off for me.
posted by klangklangston at 12:11 PM on October 3, 2007


Really? All three of those albums just clicked right off for me.

Well, I liked 'em okay enough that I was willing to listen to them again, but I didn't really "get" them until I'd had them for a bit and they'd sunk in and I started to really understand the genius of them. I think a key factor with those might be that I got them fairly early in my attempts to expand my collection beyond what I heard on the radio (MBV included), when I was basically going around and picking up what were generally considered the "classics". As such, I'd never really heard anything in depth by any of those bands before, and Pink Flag may have been the first real-deal punk album I ever bought. Imagine going from Nirvana to 28 second long songs--that's a big jump! Now I can't go for any serious length of time without hearing them, and I'm probably on my third copy of all of them.

And here's where I plug Windy and Carl, especially if you enjoy drowning the waves of feed back during the last couple minutes of "Sometimes". MP3s are on the page, I particularly recommend "Lighthouse".
posted by LionIndex at 12:25 PM on October 3, 2007


I can think of three albums off the top of my head that I purchased based on a suggestion, listened to and subsequently shelved them, only to pick them up X months later and find I really loved them:

Kings X- Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
Del Amitri - Twisted
Me'shell Ndegéocello - Plantation Lullabies

I think it really has a lot to do with the frame of mind I was in upon first hearing them. I'm just glad I didn't frisbee them before I had a chance to listen to em' again.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:28 PM on October 3, 2007


But back on topic, I'm going to throw on the old MBV CD and see what happens.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2007


Get really high first. It will make more sense.
posted by four panels at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2007


Wow! Thanks psmealey for putting a label on a genre I love, but had never heard a name for. Grew up in the 120 minutes era of MTV, but never heard the term "shoegazer" until just now.

And I'd like to second Silversun Pickups. First album in forever where it was playing in a record store and I went to the counter and said "just give me the CD that's playing".
posted by griffey at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2007


About half the bands I cover on my mp3 blog are contemporary shoegaze. Check it out if you want a little more.

Some examples:

Airiel - Sugar Crystals (featuring Ulrich Schnauss).mp3
The Radio Dept. - The City Limit.mp3
Fjord Rowboat - Shooting the Breeze.mp3

Guaranteed to cream your pants.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite group is Cocteau Twins. When a friend introduced me to Lush, she said they sounded exactly the same. I listened to Spooky expecting it to actually sound exactly like Cocteaus, but it didn't, and I found it jarring at first. But I gave it time and let it be its own thing, and grew to love it.

Notably, once Robin Guthrie wasn't producing Lush's albums, they sounded less and less like wall of noise music and more like basic pop. Still great stuff, though.

Does anyone know where Miki Berenyi is these days?

Emma has formed Sing-Sing, which is a great band, though not shoegazing.
posted by jiawen at 12:44 PM on October 3, 2007


I love Robin Guthrie's work. Album last year was fantastic. Plus there's this gem:

Mahogany - Domino Ladder (featuring Robin Guthrie).mp3

This should moisten that second pair of pants you just put on.
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:52 PM on October 3, 2007


I got into shoegazer music via all the wrong channels, most notably The Primitives (there are some nice poppy shoegaze moments on thier "Pure" LP) and Lush. I remember, back in my 120 Minutes with Dave Kendall-watching days, hating The Jesus and Mary Chain for some reason. I think it's just that they played that damn video from "Honey's Dead" all the friggen time.

Today, I can't get enough of J&MC. And yes, Loveless is hugely overrated, but that's only because it's one the best fucking records in the whole universe.
posted by melorama at 12:55 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


in grad school, my friends and i used to joke that MBV's "soon" was a song that already existed in the universe (a "naturally occuring" song) and it took the genius of kevin shields/MBV to discover it.

is there any other kevin shields solo work lurking around, besides the stuff he did for Lost In Translation?
posted by joeblough at 1:26 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is interesting you would post this, I was listening to Mezcal Head by Swervedriver the other day and falling in love with it again. What a beautifully crafted record without a bad song in the lot. So many great sounds and good arrangements and awesome beats...
posted by Skygazer at 1:46 PM on October 3, 2007


I am not sure if Mezcal Head is out of print for real, because I picked it up on iTunes a couple years back when my own copy got swiped.

And yes, I wholeheartedly agree, it's awesome. It's my top 5 desert album collection, alongside "Loveless", "Exile on Main Street", "Paranoid" and "Double Nickels on the Dime". Just cuz you were wondering.
posted by psmealey at 1:59 PM on October 3, 2007


As far as what Kevin Shields has been up to, he's a very active remixer (with results of quite varying degrees of quality). This fansite (not mine!) gives the lowdown.
posted by carrienation at 2:31 PM on October 3, 2007


I still remember the first time I head MBV's "Soon" in a bar...when that massively distorted "chorus" kicked in it was like being suspended in time. Amazing track, and I wore the paint off the cassette (along with that of Swervedriver's Raise and Mezcal Head) before I eventually replaced them all with CDs.

Thanks for all the links, I'm looking forward to some quality listening!

(delurked just to comment on this thread)
posted by Hutch at 3:01 PM on October 3, 2007


psmealey: maybe partying will help.

god i love the minutemen. sometimes i wonder about my taste in music, since i seem to like so many different genres.
posted by joeblough at 3:05 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Couple more folks to add here:

The High Violets (the aforementioned Ulrich Schnauss is remixing a track of their next album)
Blind Mr. Jones
Alison's Halo
posted by quartzcity at 4:35 PM on October 3, 2007


Fantastic post!
posted by now i'm piste at 6:56 PM on October 3, 2007


This is so awesome.
posted by geekhorde at 7:29 PM on October 3, 2007


Really glad to see Swervedriver get some love here. For me, the never-get-tired-of-it albums are Raise and Mezcal Head. I'm probably one of the very few who thinks Raise is better but they're both classics.

At swervedriver.com you can find live versions of all their albums plus some other tracks. And (sorry, I don't have the link handy) in the forums on that site, there's a guy who will ship you Swervedriver concert DVD's just for the cost of shipping / media.

Was anyone else here into darkwave? For a year or so in the mid 90's, that was pretty much all I listened to, mostly bands on the Projekt label.

The Projekt band loveliescrushing would fit in well with the other bands mentioned, though more abstract and noise than pop but really beautiful.
posted by pandaharma at 8:01 PM on October 3, 2007


And to think I almost didn't check metafilter today. Wonderful, wonderful thread! Candy for everyone!
posted by kryptondog at 8:28 PM on October 3, 2007


Thanks so much for this. I read in some dumb magazine that shoegaze died because the artists "gave bad interview." Well maybe if the damn interviewers had known their DD-20 from their vintage 1977 MXR Dynacomp from their electroharmonix 3-knob Bad Stone they would have had something interesting to talk about with these incredibly talented guitarists.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:27 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also recommended, D.C.'s (the Sounds of) Kaleidoscope.
posted by psmealey at 3:40 AM on October 4, 2007


More Swervies: posted by psmealey at 3:51 AM on October 4, 2007


Secret Shine! If you can track down their Loveblind EP you will just piss your pants it's so wonderful.

"Loveblind" (though not the B side) is available here, along with a few other tracks.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:32 AM on October 4, 2007


ikkyu2: Thanks so much for this. I read in some dumb magazine that shoegaze died because the artists "gave bad interview."

Not exactly and I say this as one who was as deep into the genre as you can be including singing in a band that opened up for the J&MC. Shoegazer died because it ran out of ideas and became deadly boring.

Loveless for better or worst -- it's vastly over rated compared to Souvlaki by Slowdive and Mezcal Head by Swervedriver -- pretty much became the defining document.

It was a breathtakingly fresh sound (dated now) densely layered and meticuliously EQ-ed. I always hear something new going on. Even before it was released it had a semi-legendary Beach Boys Smile mystique to it because, in what was a brilliant publicity angle based on some truth and repeated week in and week out by the notoriously lemming-like English music press the album was supposedly destroying Creation Recs with it's recording (and drug) bills to the tune of half a million dollars (Pounds?) and Kevin Shields had barricaded the band into a studio for months on end and it was all super secret.

When it finally was released, it was unanimously declared by the hyperbolic Brit Music press the best guitar album, since Are You Experienced? MBV Copy bands sprouted like mushrooms. Copping the exhilarating tremolo swoops and dives of Soon and the sound just got too over used and too definitive of shoegazer as a genre. It got pretty predictable.

Also, almost all the Shoegazer bands had a problem coming up with identifiable or interesting vocals and lyrics. They just did't mean anything. I mean Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins could pull it off because she's Liz Fraser and genius with an incredible voice and vocal style, but most of the Shoegazers could not. The lyrics and vocals were infantile and had no gravitas, no ideas, no thoughts, no feelings to impart other than "Damn, I am so precious and life is such a bummer, that I'm going to smoke pot all day and disappear in a impressionistic pre-infantile state of cooing whited out kaleidescope like solipsism".

The other thing is that all the effects and delays and echoes and compression and EQ and wah wah or volume pedals and overdriven tube amps and various combinations of also made all the guitars sound too washed out and hazy and lambent. I mean it's fun for a while, but it gets monotonous and just doesn't impart too much character to the guitar or the music other than, hey that sounds like the Cocteau Twins, who pretty much did everything much better anyway so why do I need to listen to Chapterhouse?

Seems to me that the records that still work today are the ones where the singers actually tried to write lyrics and or actually sing and the rest of the band actually worked on crafting good songs with good arrangements and lots of interesting things going on that didn't just sound like the Cocteau's or loveless.
posted by Skygazer at 11:45 AM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thank you so much for this post! I've got a lot of new (well old*) music to track down.

* Not technically that old so don't feel too old...you oldies.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 7:53 PM on October 4, 2007


Lately I've been listening to ALOT to the LSD & the Search for God ep so I'll add them to the list. Some might say they sound like a simple MBV-anno-Loveless-tribute band but IMHO the ep is better than Loveless, and that's saying alot! Found a raving blog review here with a link to a sample tune.
posted by mnsc at 3:47 AM on October 5, 2007


Wow, Loop mentioned. I thought I was only one of two fans*. Now there's a third!

Hair & Skin kinda flopped for me compared to Loop.

* Fans in this case can just mean someone that likes them somewhat. Or knows of them.
posted by melt away at 4:21 AM on October 5, 2007


Btw, a couple of points of intersection between shoegaze and Hüsker Dü:

Catherine Wheel's very acceptable cover of Don't Want to Know if You are Lonely, and Sugar's Gift, whose bridge parts are extremely MBV reminiscent (think "Only Shallow") owing apparently, to the fact that Bob was working on a collaboration with Kevin Shields when the record was in production, nothing came of it apparently. The more obvious nod on that record (File Under Easy Listening) however, is Sugar's "Favorite Thing", which is not so much an homage, but a retelling of MBV's "Blown a Wish".
posted by psmealey at 4:51 PM on October 5, 2007


Since I didn't see it earlier (but I could be blind)...

1.
previously
previously
previously
previously (You should definitely read this thesis because it's one of the worst pieces written about music ever... and dear thesis writer, if you decided to get a metafilter account, music videos have nothing to do with what people actually play musically.)
previously
(In case you've always wondered about that Blonder Tongue reference.)

2.
One of the top five shows I've seen was a house party in 1994 that the Swirlies played (and I swear Damon Tutunjian's shoes were scraped on the inside from skateboarding). Shoegaze is loud, most people don't realize that. I'm still pissed I missed the Dinosaur Jr./MBV tour because many of my friends went and said it was not only amazing, but one of the loudest shows they had ever seen (and some of them had seen Motorhead live, although we were all too young for The Who at their peak).

3.
Everyone who lived through the first wave of this (are the Boo Radleys here? No, not that one. The 3Ds? Flying Saucer Attack? Guess not. Seefeel? Ah, yes they are. Stereolab for christ's sake? I mean if anyone put together Neu!/noise with sitting and rocking back and forth it was Stereolab... oh wait, they were French. And those are off the top of my drug-addled head!) stop talking about it because this nutless wonder of a "Da Doo Run Run" ripoff by Mahogany is pathetic. Yes, drugs were involved in this whole "shoegazing" idea, but, seriously, even without drugs, you fucking step on 15 different guitar pedals within 30 seconds and look up and smile and dance like a goddamn monkey. Also, kids, don't tell anyone about grime. And those of us who are past middle age, please don't breathe a word about skiffle. Ok? Great.

Also, sorry psmealey, that this is towards the end, but I didn't see this until now.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:16 PM on October 5, 2007


Odd that I didn't recall those, Sleepy Pete, as I did participate in a couple of those discussions. Regardless, though, as this was a YouTube centric post, I don't regret posting it.

I saw the Swirlies with a buddy of mine at a club in Chicago a few years ago (the lineup was Lilys, the Swirles, and a solo acoustic Mark Gardener... though the Swirlies joined him at the end for a couple of Ride covers... it was tremendous). At any rate, being a huge fan, he went up to Damon and tried to get a conversation going. And apparently he got rock starred, totally snubbed. Never to let such a thing go unpunished, he actually sent email to the Swirlies on the website, and told them how dissatisfied he was with what a dick Damon turned out to be.

Damon himself wrote him what looked to be a very sincere a note of apology, made no excuses for it other than he remembered being a bit ill and a little too drunk or something. FWIW.
posted by psmealey at 5:16 AM on October 6, 2007


Here's another vote for Cathernie Wheel whose Ferment has stood up pretty well to the test of time. Great guitars. Flying Saucer Attack is good too.


A great record, that probably no one would think of as Shoegaze cos it's most definitly not, but I think it has elements that might appeal and anyhow is one of my fave recs of all time , is Up On the Sun by the Meat Puppets.
posted by Skygazer at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2007


It's funny you mention the Meat Puppets, because I distinctly remember buying the much unheralded "Unknown Pleasures" right about the same time as I got into MBV and Ride, and it pretty much fit right in.

It doesn't sound much like the rest of the Puppets catalogue (which, to me is a good thing... not that they aren't great, I just don't recognize them as the godhead that most of my ilk do), but I still recommend it.
posted by psmealey at 4:11 AM on October 18, 2007


Duh Unknown Pleasures Forbidden Places... suffering from too much Joy Division of late
posted by psmealey at 4:11 AM on October 18, 2007


oh yeah. forgot to mention Medicine. definitely a bit harder than most shoegaze but still related.
posted by joeblough at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2007


Swervedriver to reform after 10 year hiatus


Yea!
posted by psmealey at 2:04 PM on October 23, 2007


Wow, this thread has seriously been a resource for me. I keep coming back and finding new bands to add to my Pandora station. You guys rock!
posted by Afroblanco at 5:55 PM on October 23, 2007


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