In the first post I did on shoegaze bands, I talked about the essential yin/yang buried at its contradictory, androgynous heart from its beginnings. Loud guitars/soft vocals. Aggressive volume/introspective feelings. Male/female. Noise/melody.
Here are a couple more modern examples of that dichotomy.
In the boys’ corner: Philadelphia’s Nothing. Their 2014 debut LP (Guilty of Everything – they also reissued the Downward Years To Come EP last year) probably would have made my year-end roundup, if I’d heard them before December. Really good stuff.
The band has gained some notoriety; as ex-hardcore kids signed to a mostly-metal label (Relapse) who put out a straight-up 1990s shoegaze revival record on it, they have confused and alienated some music fans.
Plus the singer, as a young man, spent some time in jail for stabbing a guy (actually, that part IS pretty metal).
But we don’t listen to shoegaze because we want a meaningful narrative or detailed backstory; that’d be like listening to techno hoping for a song about wizards and stuff. We listen to shoegaze to luxuriate in a warm bath of pure sonics and tones, both in the roar of the guitars and the pensive vocal melodies.
In the girls’ corner: another Philly-based band, confusingly named A Sunny Day In Glasgow, with their new one, Sea When Absent. These guys might shade closer to dream-pop – all that really means is that the guitars generally aren’t QUITE as loud.
But given a shared general commitment to shimmering disorientation and lyrical obfuscation as modus operandi, there’s a lot of overlap between the two – depending on who you ask, shoegaze is a subset of dreampop, and anyway, who cares? Not me.
ASDIG fall more on the experimental, deconstructive end of things – one thing that many of MBV’s legions of imitators often DON’T get, is that shoegazing can be more than just simple straight pop songs dressed up in really loud, effected guitars.
Like MBV, you can do all sorts of mad-scientist fracturing of traditional pop rhythm and structure; you can build up that now-standard shoegaze stained-glass cathedral window of beauty, then smash it into sonic shards of colored glass, and throw *those* up in the air, glittering, weightless; see what kind of light they catch now.
Post header image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.