|Cultural origins||Late 1980s, United Kingdom|
|The Scene That Celebrates Itself|
Shoegaze (originally termed shoegazing and sometimes conflated with "dream pop")is a subgenre of indie and alternative rock characterized by its ethereal mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume. It emerged in Ireland and the United Kingdom in the late 1980s among neo-psychedelic groups who stood motionless during live performances in a detached, non-confrontational state. The name comes from the heavy use of effects pedals, as the performers were often looking down at their pedals during concerts.
My Bloody Valentine's album Loveless (1991) is often seen as the genre's defining release, with other prominent shoegaze groups including Slowdive, Ride, Lush, and Chapterhouse. A loose label given to the shoegaze bands and other affiliated bands in London in the early 1990s was "the Scene That Celebrates Itself". Most shoegaze artists drew from the template set by My Bloody Valentine on their late 1980s recordings, as well as bands such as Dinosaur Jr., the Jesus & Mary Chain, and the Cocteau Twins.
In the early 1990s, shoegaze was pushed aside by the American grunge movement and early Britpop acts, forcing the relatively unknown bands to break up or reinvent their style altogether.In the 2000s, there was renewed interest in the genre among "Nu gaze" bands.
Shoegaze combines ethereal, swirling vocals with layers of distorted, bent, or flanged guitars,creating a wash of sound where no instrument is distinguishable from another. The genre was typically "overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars." According to Allmusic, most bands drew from the music of My Bloody Valentine as a template for the genre, as well as groups such as Cocteau Twins, Dinosaur Jr., and The Jesus and Mary Chain. British duo A.R. Kane have also been credited with producing a template for the genre in the late 1980s.
The term originated in a concert review in Sounds for the newly formed band Moose in which singer Russell Yates read lyrics taped to the floor throughout the gig. [ citation needed ]The term was picked up by NME , who used it as a reference to the tendency of the bands' guitarists to stare at their feet—or their effects pedals—while playing, seemingly deep in concentration. Melody Maker preferred calling it "The Scene That Celebrates Itself", referring to the habit that the bands had of attending gigs of other shoegaze bands, often in Camden, and often playing in each other's bands.
According to AllMusic: "The shatteringly loud, droning neo-psychedelia the band performed was dubbed shoegaze by the British press because the band members stared at the stage while they performed".According to some, the term was used to describe dream pop bands.
Slowdive's Simon Scott found the term relevant:
I always thought Robert Smith, when he was in Siouxsie and the Banshees playing guitar [on the 1983's Nocturne live video], was the coolest as he just stood there and let the music flood out. That anti showmanship was perfect so I never really understood why people began to use "shoegaze" as a negative term. I think if Slowdive didn't stand there looking at what pedal was about to go on and off we'd have been shite. [...] I am glad we were static and concentrated on playing well. Now it is a positive term.
The term was also considered pejorative, especially by a part of the English weekly music press who considered the movement as ineffectual, and it was disliked by many of the groups it purported to describe. Lush's singer Miki Berenyi explained: "Shoegazing was originally a slag-off term. My partner [K.J. "Moose" McKillop], who was the guitarist in Moose, claims that it was originally leveled at his band. Apparently the journo was referring to the bank of effects pedals he had strewn across the stage that he had to keep staring at in order to operate. And then it just became a generic term for all those bands that had a big, sweeping, effects-laden sound, but all stood resolutely still on stage".Ride's singer Mark Gardener had another take on his group's static presentation: "We didn't want to use the stage as a platform for ego ... We presented ourselves as normal people, as a band who wanted their fans to think they could do that too."
The most commonly cited precursors to shoegaze are Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine, although My Bloody Valentine's Loveless is often referred to as the greatest album the genre has produced.Each band's music bridged the styles of garage rock, 1960s psychedelia and American indie bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Other artists that have been identified as direct influences on shoegaze include The Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü, and The Cure. Siouxsie and the Banshees was also a major influence initially on Cocteau Twins. Slowdive named themselves after a Siouxsie and the Banshees song of the same name and took inspiration from the group at their beginnings. Lush, a shoegaze contemporary, were originally called "The Baby Machines", a line from a Siouxsie lyric. Other bands who have been cited as exploring proto-shoegaze sounds and textures include Spacemen 3 and The House of Love.
My Bloody Valentine emerged in the wake of their 1988 breakthrough with the "You Made Me Realise" EP and album Isn't Anything .The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock mentions that "A.R. Kane, the London duo ... (who dubbed their music 'dreampop') exerted a profound sonic influence on the legion of trippy shoegazer guitar bands that would emerge a few years later in the UK". Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life cited an early 1990s Dinosaur Jr. tour of the United Kingdom as a key influence.
Whereas contemporary alternative rock movements of the time period were extremely male-dominated (Britpop, grunge), My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Lush, Cocteau Twins, and many other popular shoegaze acts had at least one prominent female musician who contributed key vocal elements and/or integral writing components to the music. Kevin Shields noted that there were as many women as men in the shoegaze community.
The Scene That Celebrates Itself was the social and musical scene in the early 1990s within London and the Thames Valley area. The term was coined by Melody Maker's Steve Sutherland in 1990 in a near-contemptuous gesture, focusing on how bands involved in the scene, rather than engaging in traditional rivalries, were often seen at each other's gigs, sometimes playing in each other's bands, and drinking together.
Bands lumped into the 'scene' by the press included several of the bands that were branded with the shoegazing label, such as Chapterhouse, Lush, Moose and other (mainly indie) bands such as Blur (prior to the release of their single "Popscene"), Thousand Yard Stare, See See Rider and Stereolab.A prime example were Moose, who often swapped members with other bands on a given night. Moose's Russell Yates and Stereolab guitarist Tim Gane would often trade places, while "Moose" McKillop often played with See See Rider. Gane and his Stereolab colleague Lætitia Sadier even played on the 1991 session by Moose for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show.
The bands, producers and journalists of the time would gather in London and their activities would be chronicled in the gossip pages of the music papers NME and Melody Maker. The most famous club and focal point was Syndrome, which was located on Oxford Street and ran weekly on Thursday nights. The NME, in particular, embraced the scene, and the unity of the bands was probably advantageous to their careers, because when one band had a successful record, the other bands could share the publicity. The scene was extremely small and revolved around fewer than 20 individuals.[ citation needed ]
The first stirrings of recognition came when indie writer Steve Lamacq referred to Ride in an NME review as "The House of Love with chainsaws".
The shoegaze genre label was quite often misapplied. As key bands such as Slowdive, Chapterhouse and Ride emerged from the Thames Valley, Swervedriver found themselves labelled shoegazers on account of their own Thames Valley origins, despite their more pronounced Hüsker Dü-meets-Stooges stylings.
The coining of the term "The Scene That Celebrates Itself" was in many ways the beginning of the end for the first wave of shoegazers. The bands became perceived by critics as over-privileged, self-indulgent, and middle-class.This perception was in sharp contrast with both the bands who formed the wave of newly commercialized grunge music which was making its way across the Atlantic, as well as those bands who formed the foundation of Britpop, such as Pulp, Oasis, Blur and Suede. Britpop also offered intelligible lyrics, often about the trials and tribulations of working-class life; this was a stark contrast to the "vocals as an instrument" approach of the shoegazers, which often prized the melodic contribution of vocals over their lyrical depth. Lush's final album was an abrupt shift from shoegaze to Britpop, which alienated many fans; the 1996 suicide of their drummer signaled Lush's dissolution. Following a long gap from My Bloody Valentine since Loveless, aside from their 2008 reunion tour, the band released m b v in February 2013. Shields explained their silence by noting, "I never could be bothered to make another record unless I was really excited by it."
Slowdive eventually morphed into the country-infused Mojave 3 and the dream pop Monster Movie, while other shoegaze bands either split or moved in other directions. The use of electronic dance and ambient elements by bands such as Slowdive and Seefeel paved the way for later developments in post-rock and electronica.Several former members of shoegaze bands later moved towards post-rock and the more electronica-based trip hop. Adam Franklin of Swervedriver released lo-fi albums under the moniker Toshack Highway.
While shoegaze briefly flared and then faded out in the UK, the bands of the initial wave had an immense impact on the development of regional underground and college rock scenes in the US.In particular, a Lush and Ride tour of the US in 1991 directly inspired the spawning of American shoegaze groups including Half String and Ozean. Columnist Emma Sailor of KRUI in Iowa City opines:
The insularity and introversion of British shoegaze was an intention[al] backlash against their country’s mainstream. But when the shoegaze sound was exported to America, it arrived unattached from the cultural context that originally prompted its gloomy moods. The result? American indie bands gave shoegaze an entirely new image. Where the sound once was tightly linked with introversion, it was now attached to summery, outward looking songs with a focus on celebrating youth.
About DC-based Velocity Girl's 1991 single "My Forgotten Favorite", Sailor goes on to note, "Could anything be more different — and yet so similar — to [Slowdive]? The hazy [production] and dreamy, high pitched female vocals are there, but the outlook is entirely different." Other notable American shoegaze influenced bands of the early- to mid-1990s included Lilys, The Swirlies, The Veldt, and Medicine.
A resurgence of the genre began in the late 1990s (particularly in the United States) and the early 2000s, that helped usher in what is now referred to as the "nu gaze" era.Also various heavy metal acts were inspired by shoegaze, which contributed to the emergence of "post-metal" and "metalgaze" styles. Particularly in the mid-2000s, French black metal acts Alcest and Amesoeurs began incorporating shoegaze elements into their sound, pioneering the blackgaze genre.
My Bloody Valentine are an Irish-English band formed in Dublin in 1983. Since 1987, its lineup has consisted of founding members Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig with Bilinda Butcher and Debbie Googe (bass). Their music is best known for its merging of dissonant guitar textures, androgynous vocals, and unorthodox production techniques. They helped to pioneer the alternative rock subgenre known as shoegaze during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Indie rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1970s. Originally used to describe independent record labels, the term became associated with the music they produced and was initially used interchangeably with alternative rock or "guitar pop rock". In the 1980s, the use of the term "indie" started to shift from its reference to recording companies to describe the style of music produced on punk and post-punk labels. During the 1990s, grunge and punk revival bands in the US and Britpop bands in the UK broke into the mainstream, and the term "alternative" lost its original counter-cultural meaning. The term "indie rock" became associated with the bands and genres that remained dedicated to their independent status. By the end of the 1990s, indie rock developed several subgenres and related styles, including lo-fi, noise pop, emo, slowcore, post-rock, and math rock. In the 2000s, changes in the music industry and a growing importance of the internet enabled a new wave of indie rock bands to achieve mainstream success, leading to questions about its meaningfulness as a term.
Alternative rock is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1990s. "Alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream or commercial rock or pop music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music.
Lush were an English rock band formed in London in 1987. The original line-up consisted of Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, Steve Rippon (bass) and Chris Acland (drums). Phil King replaced Rippon in 1991. They were one of the first bands to have been described with the "shoegazing" label. Following the death of Acland, the group disbanded in 1996.
Dream pop is a subgenre of alternative rock and neo-psychedelia that is characterized by its preoccupation with atmosphere and sonic texture as much as pop melody, including characteristics such as breathy female vocals, use of guitar effects, and dense productions. It often overlaps with the related genre of shoegaze, and the two genre terms have at times been used interchangeably.
Head over Heels is the second studio album by Scottish alternative rock band Cocteau Twins. The album was released in October 1983 by 4AD, and was their first album as a duo of Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie. It featured the band's signature sound of "Guthrie’s lush guitars under Fraser’s mostly wordless vocals" and is considered an archetype of early ethereal wave music.
Slowdive are an English rock band that formed in Reading, Berkshire in 1989. The band consists of Rachel Goswell on vocals and guitar, Simon Scott on drums, Neil Halstead on vocals and guitar, Nick Chaplin on bass and Christian Savill on guitar. Several other drummers also briefly played with the band, including Adrian Sell, Neil Carter and Ian McCutcheon. Halstead is the band's primary songwriter.
Noise pop is a subgenre of alternative or indie rock that developed in the mid-1980s in the United Kingdom and United States. It is defined by its mixture of dissonant noise or feedback with the songcraft more often found in pop music. Shoegazing, another noise-based genre that developed in the 1980s, drew from noise pop.
British rock describes a wide variety of forms of music made in the United Kingdom. Since around 1964, with the "British Invasion" of the United States spearheaded by the Beatles, British rock music has had a considerable impact on the development of American music and rock music across the world.
Morr Music is an independent record label based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1999 by Thomas Morr. Most artists on the label fall into the categories of intelligent dance music, electronica and dreampop, but all reflect Thomas Morr's personal taste. This results in a cohesive aesthetic observable in both the aural and visual elements of this label's releases.
Rachel Ann Goswell is an English singer-songwriter and musician who rose to prominence as vocalist and guitarist of the shoegaze band Slowdive, which formed in 1989. Goswell, along with Neil Halstead, Ian McCutcheon and former Chapterhouse member Simon Rowe became Mojave 3 when Slowdive transitioned to a more country/folk rock style. She released a solo album in 2004, titled Waves Are Universal on 4AD Records.
Popular music of the United Kingdom in the 1990s continued to develop and diversify. While the singles charts were dominated by boy bands and girl groups, British soul and Indian-based music also enjoyed their greatest level of mainstream success to date, and the rise of World music helped revitalise the popularity of folk music. Electronic rock bands like The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers began to achieve a high profile. Alternative rock reached the mainstream, emerging from the Madchester scene to produce dream pop, shoegazing, post rock and indie pop, which led to the commercial success of Britpop bands like Blur and Oasis; followed by a stream of post-Britpop bands like Travis and Feeder.
Ethereal wave, also called ethereal darkwave, ethereal goth or simply ethereal, is a subgenre of dark wave music that is variously described as "gothic", "romantic", and "otherworldly". Developed in the early 1980s in the UK as an outgrowth of gothic rock, ethereal wave was mainly represented by 4AD bands such as Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and early guitar-driven Dead Can Dance.
Big Sonic Heaven is a 24/7 Internet radio station and blog created, hosted and produced by Darren Revell.
Weep is an American rock band from New York City whose music combines elements of ethereal wave, gothic rock, shoegaze, post-punk and synthpop. Formed in 2008 by singer and guitarist Eric "Doc" Hammer, the band's lineup also includes bass guitarist Fred Macaraeg, keyboardist Alex Dziena and drummer Bill Kovalcik. Their debut EP, Never Ever, was released in 2008 by Hammer's Astro-Base Go company and Projekt Records, followed by the full-length albums Worn Thin (2010), Alate (2012) and Weep (2014).
69 is the debut album by British band A.R. Kane, released in 1988 on Rough Trade Records and produced by the band with additional co-production from Ray Shulman. Following the release of their acclaimed Lollita and Up Home! EPs, 69 developed the experimental "dream pop" style pioneered by the duo, blending elements of dub, acid rock, jazz, noise, and pop.
Classic alternative is a radio format focusing on alternative music from the late 1970s to early 1990s, with particular focus on the early days of MTV.
Beautiful Noise is a 2014 American music documentary film, written and directed by Eric Green. The film documents three rock bands—Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine—and their influence on shoegazing and other alternative rock genres. Beautiful Noise features extracts from over 50 interviews with bands and artists, as well as archival footage and music videos.
Scar is the debut mini album by the English alternative rock band Lush. It was released on 9 October 1989 on 4AD. Originally intended to be a three-track single release, Scar was produced by John Fryer and the band themselves and recorded at London's Blackwing Studios in 1989.
The full extent of their pioneering guitar manipulation – responsible for a whole scene of "shoegaze" musical admirers, stand up Ride, Moose, Lush etc., etc., ...
...the recent trend for combining metal’s sense of threat with the immersive idyll of shoegazing is undeniable, and only one aspect of the ongoing cross-pollination taking place in extreme music. For his part, r views the ‘metalgaze’ movement as less entropic than cyclical.
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