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Old 03-29-2010, 11:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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^

Prepare to be addicted.

It is definitely my favorite genre of music...I'm a sucker for the guitar tones. If I was in a band it would be a shoegaze band...
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:25 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for the nods guys, I'll try not to disappoint you with the rest.

And mr dave, I'm familiar with SIANspheric from my brother but I don't think they really come across as a core influence on shoegaze, they weren't even active until the mid-nineties. Not to shoot you down or anything, I'll try and wrangle a link somewhere.
it's all good and i agree they're not so much an influence on the creation of the style so much as group that kept it alive when all the others seemed to fall by the wayside while never getting the kind of recognition their peers enjoyed. just where you mentionned giving a nod to less recognized groups instead of just MBV, Ride, etc i was hoping these guys would get a little light shone their way.

digging the Cocteau Twins stuff quite a bit too, they're one of those groups i was always supposed to check out but anytime i combined the 80s with the word Twins my head came up with Thompson and i just ran the hell away. it's nice to hear a vocalist really using her voice instead of being relegated to being little more than a whisper hidden in the mix.
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:16 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Shoegaze is one of a few areas of music I have little to no knowledge of. I've been meaning to clue myself up about it in MP3 form, but never actually get round to it for whatever reason. I'll be keeping an eye on this one then. Good job thus far - keep up the good work eh.
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Old 04-03-2010, 12:19 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I have a lot of work to do in the next week, so this will likely be my last entry for some time to come. As an extension of my last post, this represents (again, from my perspective) the second core influence on shoegaze. However, unlike Cocteau Twins, I’m not referring to a particular artist's entire works but a production aesthetic on an album that soon earned favor with shoegaze bands across the spectrum.


If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about the Jesus and Mary Chain’s first LP Psychocandy, which has since been hailed as one of the definitive noise pop records. Perhaps one of the first records to use feedback expansively as a songwriting mechanism, Psychocandy itself is rather simply written, but crafted a completely different canvas for shoegaze artists to use as a medium. The characteristic feedback washes that denote shoegaze didn’t exist prior to this album. And despite the Jesus and Mary Chain’s lengthy and prosperous career, they never quite managed to return to the same distinctive sound that Psychocandy is so fondly remembered for.

When I suggest that Psychocandy is simple, it really is simple. The bass lines follow the guitar chords almost uniformly, there are very few (and very abrupt at that) solos, all drums are recorded between a snare and kick drum (performed stand-up style, a la Maureen Tucker). So what’s the big deal?

First and foremost, the songs themselves are rather impressive. Despite their apparent simplicity, Jim and William Reid manage to crank out a set of deliberately straightforward yet undeniably catchy pop songs. The interplay between the diminutive nasal recordings and the droney, scratchy guitar is one of the most unusually appealing elements to the music. Drawing from influences like the Velvet Underground and the Beach Boys, Psychocandy managed to fuse abrasive feedback and simple melodies – and do it well.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most ostensible influences of Psychocandy is the deliberate use of feedback as a songwriting media. Prior to that, feedback was considered undesirable in recording and musicians took measures to avoid looping signals. Psychocandy opened up the landscape of feedback’s potential to extend beyond testosterone-fueled garage and punk rock and made it something to be adored rather than reviled. This influence is palpable throughout the rest of the shoegaze movement, from pioneers like Spacemen 3 to [insert latest gratuitous throwback out there today].

Perhaps worthy of note is the sheer balls that the Jesus and Mary Chain had for doing all this. Early JAMC shows were characterized by ten-minute sets of guitars drenched in distortion and barely comprehensible vocals. Ending sets early earned them notoriety for causing mayhem; these guys were not worshipped by their followers -- they were detested. In this author's humble opinion, Psychocandy was just another way of telling everybody to fuck off.

While it’s not the stuff for everyone, the marriage of feedback to honey-sweet melodies earned Psychocandy its rightful place in history as one of shoegaze’s biggest influences. Check it out.





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Old 04-03-2010, 02:20 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Great follow up to the Cocteau Twins...I totally agree with you. The only thing I think needs to be mentioned is that it wasn't only Psychocandy that influenced shoegaze. Their followup Darklands most definitely played a part as well. Psychocandy introduced the use of feedback as a songwriting medium, but Darklands totally did away with that and introduced chugging crunch heavy guitars. I always felt like shoegazing bands were attempting to fuse the two styles into a single distinctive genre.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Fuck man... good call, I love shoegaze and there is definitely a lot of interest around here. I'm sure this will be a very good read too, your reviews so far are spot on. I'm excited to see what the third album is gonna be, I'd assume the Smiths but ya never know.

And for the record, you should really, really consider listening to Black Tambourine immediately. I feel they influenced a lot of the lo-fi indie rock that's come out in the past 10 years:

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Old 04-03-2010, 01:50 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Excellent thread so far. I'm not into shoegaze all that much, but I do enjoy reading well written threads that the author clearly loves and enjoys.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:22 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I’m not going to lie, this next post is pretty much the reason I started this thread. This is going to be fun.

Somewhere between the years 1987 and 1989 saw the creation of almost 95% of shoegaze bands active during the golden era (ca. 1989-1994). Obvious exceptions to this were bands like Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine, who were active some years prior. So what happened? Was it mere happenstance or did some event lead to those bands’ creation and ultimate success? My guess –- it was a bit of both. Occasionally there are periods in musical history which defy pre-existing boundaries, and as such this is not so much an album review (like prior posts) but an attempt to correlate historical events. The question yet remains: what happened between those years that saw the formation of so many successful and ultimately seminal acts?

I don’t think it was a dream pop band or a jangle pop act or any of the above which functioned as the stimulating experience. In fact, the band in question that I am referring to was more closely associated with grunge and the American indie rock explosion than anything Britain had to offer. Still confused?

I am referring, of course, to Dinosaur Jr.


Yep, or at least their European tour of fall 1988. One of the most unlikely heroes of shoegaze, Dino J came from a background of hardcore and classic rock influences, not the typical dreamy vocals of shoegaze yore. Bearing more in common to their Bostonian foils Pixies than any artist I’ve yet to mention, their inspiration (rather than influence) upon the shoegaze community was felt as a ripple throughout their tenuous existence.

Combining J Mascis’ pealing guitar tones, Lou Barlow’s pulverizing fuzzy basslines, and Murph’s furious drumming, Dinosaur Jr. epitomized the rise of noise rock during the 1980s. Deriving influence from other ‘80s acts like the Birthday Party and the Cure, Dino J fused an intricate balance of wailing feedback and languid drawling vocals. That’s not to say that they were a simple band in any regard; they brought the power trio back into the limelight and were some of the most able musicians to grace indie rock.


Dinosaur Jr.’s 1987 sophomore masterpiece, You’re Living All Over Me, is a testament to the ingenious songwriting of Mascis. The first four songs alone are among Dino J’s best and resound just how huge the disparity in songwriting abilities Mascis had with and without Barlow. Their live act was equally impressive during this time, and without a doubt one of the most electrifying experiences one could envision. And for its time, Dinosaur Jr. definitely assisted the growth of shoegaze throughout Britain.

Their 1988 European tour was met with critical and popular acclaim across a spectrum of listeners. Befriending fellow musicians Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher (of My Bloody Valentine fame), J Mascis and his incredible command of the guitar left audiences in awe with the instrumental prowess at his disposal. And in time, influenced My Bloody Valentine’s own sound as they evolved. (Ever wonder why Bilinda used Jazzmasters? Or why MBV elected to play at such excruciating volume levels?) It was obvious that Dinosaur Jr. served as the second half of the puzzle –- the inspiration to shoegaze’s earliest constituents. And as much as I’ve written about Dinosaur Jr. they were still more important to music history than other, bigger names like Pixies, Sonic Youth, etc.

Unfortunately I found it a bit difficult to acquire bootlegs from that era so you’ll have to just sit and imagine how awesome it was. Or check these out:




(Not on the original YLAOM LP but a kickass cover nonetheless).
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