Sunday, May 3

Brief Shoegaze Introduction

Shoegaze (also known as shoegazing or shoegazer) is a genre of late '80s and early '90s British indie rock, named after the bands' motionless performing style by Britsish music press (NME, Melody Maker), where they stood on stage and stared at the floor while they played. But shoegaze wasn't about visuals -- it was about pure sound. The sound of the music was overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other.

My Bloody Valentine (on the left picture) was considered the major influence to shoegaze music. With their early EPs and first full-length album, they ultimately defined the sound of shoegaze. Many shoegazer bands like Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse and Slowdive followed, and created some remarkable classic shoegaze albums which helped creating the scene. However, these shoegazing bands acted in such a low-profile, rarely appeared on the media, and were strongly critised as over-privileged, self-indulgent and middle-class. They were perceived as "The Scene That Celebrates Itself". Also, facing the rising of the nationalism Britpop, the first wave of shoegazers were forced to split or move into other genres of music.

Other genres closely associated with shoegaze were Noise pop, Dream pop and Britpop. Dream Pop is an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody. The Cocteau Twins, with their indecipherable vocals and languid soundscapes, are frequently seen as the leaders of dream pop. The debut albm by The Jesus & Mary Chain, Psychocandy (see right photo), pretty much demonstrated the style of Noise pop - pop music wrapped in barbed-wire kisses of feedback, dissonance, and abrasion. Bands like The Verve and The Boo Radleys turned their way to Britpop during the decline of shoegaze in the mid '90s. Many believed it was the end for shoegazers, but clearly it was not. For me, shoegaze took his time off, and waited for another time to take off. Recently with the reunites of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain, and many new emerging shoegaze bands only prove this is just a beginning.

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