Infobox Music genre
Post-punk Dream pop Space rock Noise pop Psychedelic rock
cultural_origins= Mid-late 1980s,
guitar, vocals, bass guitar, drums
popularity= Low in 1980s, moderate in early to mid 1990s, low since then
Nu gaze– Post-metal– Post-rock
The Scene That Celebrates Itself
Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze or shoegazer) is a genre of
alternative rockthat emerged from the United Kingdomin 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 their effects pedals or the floor while playing their instruments; hence, the idea that they were gazing at their shoes. [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:2680 All Music: Genre: Shoegaze] . Retrieved April 12, 2007.] The shoegazing sound featured extensive use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blended into the creative noise of the guitars. Few shoegazers were dynamic performers or interesting interviewees, which prevented them from breaking through into markets in the United States. A lump description given to shoegaze bands in London in the early 1990s was " The Scene That Celebrates Itself."Lester, Paul (1992-09-12). "Whatever Happened to Shoegazing?" "Melody Maker", p.6. Retrieved April 12, 2007 from Proquest Research Library.] In the 1990s, shoegaze groups were pushed aside by the likes of American grunge and Britpop, forcing bands to breakup or evolve into a different style. Recent times have seen a renewed interest in the genre, among so-called "nu-gaze" bands.Smart, James (2005-06-13). "Review: Pop: Ambulance LTD: The Venue, Edinburgh 3/5." " The Guardian". Retrieved April 12, 2007 from Lexis Nexis Academic.]
Common musical elements in shoegaze are distortion (aka "fuzzbox"), droning riffs and a "
wall of sound" from noisy guitars. Typically, two distorted rhythm guitars are played together to give an amorphous quality to the sound. Although lead guitar riffs were often present, they were not the central focus of most shoegazing songs.
Vocals are typically subdued in volume and tone, but underneath the layers of guitars is generally a strong sense of
melody. While the genres which influenced shoegazing often used drum machines, shoegazing more often features live drumming.
The name was coined in a review in Sounds of a concert by the newly-formed Moose in which singer Russell Yates read lyrics taped to the floor throughout the gig. [cite book |last= Larkin |first= Colin |title= The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music |year= 1992 |pages= 188|publisher= Square One|isbn= 0-85112-579-4] The term was picked up by the "
New Musical Express", who used it as a reference to the tendency of the bands' guitarists to stare at their feet (or their effects pedals), seemingly deep in concentration, while playing. " Melody Maker" preferred the more staid term The Scene That Celebrates Itself, referring to the habit which the bands had of attending gigs of other shoegazing bands, often in Camden, and often in each other's bands.
The bands first labelled as "shoegaze" were largely influenced by
My Bloody Valentine, and emerged in the wake of their breakthrough in 1988 with the " You Made Me Realise" single and the album " Isn't Anything", [cite book |last= Strong |first= Martin C. |title= The Great Alternative & Indie Discography |year= 1999 |pages= 427|publisher= Canongate|isbn= 0-86241-913-1|quote="The full extent of their pioneering guitar manipulation - responsible for a whole scene of "shoegazing" musical admirers, stand up Ride, Moose, Lush etc., etc., ..."] [http://wc05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:2680 Allmusic genre article on "Shoegaze"] ] and the "shoegaze" label has more recently been applied to My Bloody Valentine themselves. [http://www.themuso.co.za/?p=1032 The Muso: "Shoegazing - A Brief Overview"] ] Other artists that have been identified as influences on shoegazing include The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, Spacemen 3, [http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/multiarticlesub.aspx?csid2=779&fid1=32739 Exclaim! Sound of Confusion article on Shoegaze] Retrieved September 22, 2008] Dinosaur Jr, The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Cocteau Twins, [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/44170-mbv-jamc-corgan-coyne-reznor-in-shoegaze-doc " MBV, JAMC, Corgan, Coyne, Reznor in Shoegaze Doc" - Pitchfork Media article] ] The Cure, Bauhaus, and Galaxie 500. [http://wc06.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gbfuxqyjldse All Music: Portable Galaxie 500] . Retrieved January 5, 2008.]
Michael Azerrad's book "
Our Band Could Be Your Life" cites an early 1990s Dinosaur Jrtour of the United Kingdom as a key influence. While not classified as a shoegazing band, Dinosaur Jr did share a tendency to blend poppy melody with loud guitars and laconic vocals. A lengthy summer 1992 U.S. tour featuring MBV, Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengoraised the genre's profile in the States considerably.
"The Scene That Celebrates Itself"
The first stirrings of recognition came when indie writer
Steve Lamacqreferred to Ride in a review for the "NME" as " The House of Lovewith chainsaws". The genre label was quite often misapplied. Key bands such as Ride, Chapterhouseand Slowdiveemerged from the Thames Valleyand as such Swervedriverfound themselves labelled shoegazers on account of their own (coincidental) Thames Valley origins - despite their more pronounced Hüsker Dü-meets-Stooges stylings.
John Peelwas a relentless supporter of the shoegaze scene; most U.K. bands of the genre recorded "Peel Sessions" before even releasing an album.
The shoegaze style is related to a genre that had existed since the mid 1980s, known as
dream pop. Dream pop was a more ambient and abstract take on folk and pop music. It was pioneered by 4ADacts, such as Cocteau Twins, A R Kaneand This Mortal Coil, who took advantages of the improvements in studio technology in the previous decades to create a new strain of pop music with a hazy, ethereal sound. Highly respected ambient musicians like Harold Buddand Brian Enohave collaborated with dream pop acts (on The Moon and the Melodiesand Souvlaki respectively), which serves to highlight the genre's connection with ambient music. The genre proved to be highly influential on the shoegazing scene that emerged in the early nineties, and certain acts straddle the two styles, though shoegaze can be distinguished by its noisier, psychedelic sound.
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 those bands who formed the wave of newly-commercialised
grungemusic which was making its way across the Atlantic, and those bands who formed the foundation of Britpop, such as Blur, Suede, Oasis and Pulp. [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2135023,00.html Jude Rogers talks to the pioneers of nu-gazing. | | guardian.co.uk Arts ] ] 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 shoegazing to Britpop, alienating many fans; the 1996 suicide of their drummer led to Lush's dissolution and served as a symbolic nail in the coffin of what was the shoegazing genre's original era. Nothing has surfaced from My Bloody Valentine since "Loveless" until their reunion tour in 2008. Plans for a new album have been confirmed, with frontman Kevin Shieldsexplaining the band's silence with "I never could be bothered to make another record unless I was really excited by it".cite web | title=Kevin Shields: MBV Will "100%" Make Another Album | url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/page/news/40473/Kevin_Shields_MBV_Will_100_Make_Another_Album#40473 | accessmonthday=January 16 | accessyear=2007]
Slowdive eventually morphed into the country-infused
Mojave 3, while other shoegaze bands either split or moved in other directions. The Verve(at the time known simply as "Verve") went more towards mainstream rock on their 1997 album "Urban Hymns", before singer Richard Ashcroftwent solo. Mark Gardenerand Loz Colbert of Ride released an album as The Animalhouse; in 2006, Gardener's first solo album was released. Several former members of shoegazing bands later moved towards post-rockand the more electronica-based trip hop. Adam Franklinof Swervedriverreleased lo-fi albums under the moniker Toshack Highway.
Going "unplugged" has become a popular route to take for former lead singers of shoegaze bands: Gardener, Franklin, Ashcroft,
Rob Dickinsonof Catherine Wheel, and Slowdive/Mojave 3, have all reinvented themselves as acoustic troubadours.
Jesu [ [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/40857-conqueror Jesu: Conqueror: Pitchfork Record Review ] ] ,
Asobi Seksu,, The Meeting Places[http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2135023,00.html Jude Rogers talks to the pioneers of nu-gazing. | | guardian.co.uk Arts ] ] , Maps Silversun Pickups[ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/silversunpickups/albums/album/10850284/review/10962883/carnavas Silversun Pickups: Carnavas : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone ] ] [ [http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/silversun-pickups-carnavas/ Silversun Pickups: Carnavas - PopMatters Music Review ] ] [ [http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=4567 Silversun Pickups - Carnavas Review from Music Emissions ] ] , Apollo Heights, Airiel, Van She[ [http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue87/VanShe.htm The Blurb: Van She interview] ] , and M83 [ [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/19620-m83?artist_title=19620-m83 M83: M83: Pitchfork Record Review ] ] also borrow heavily from the shoegaze movement.
Use of electronic manipulation
There is another thread of shoegaze-influenced music which maintains the emphasis of texture (through the use of guitar effects pedals and
digital signal processing) but departs, to some degree, from the rock structures and full-band instrumentation of shoegaze music. Also, there are little to no vocal elements. This “post-shoegaze” glitch and experimental electronic music has achieved some critical praise, especially releases Televise, Fenneszand Tim Hecker. Also aspects of Seefeel, late-era Flying Saucer Attack, Main, lovesliescrushing, The Third Eye Foundation, Pacific UV, Oppressed by the Line, and M83 have explored this territory as well in the mid-'90s and beyond.Fact|date=March 2007
Often using the digital studio of a computer, these artists focus much attention on creating spacious atmosphere. The outcome tends to be compositions ranging from ambient stretches of droning tones, distorted walls of sound, and reverb-laden atmospherics. What separates this from other strands of glitch or noise compositions and places it in the realm of shoegaze, are the inclusion of melodies that call to mind pop and rock music.Fact|date=March 2007
Online Shoegaze Radio Stations
[http://www.live365.com/stations/palegrey Aurora Radio]
Selected bands and events in the genre:
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Period = from:1981 till:2004ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:1 start:1984 gridcolor:grid1
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from:1983 till:1997 text:"
Cocteau Twins" at:1983 text:"1983: "Head Over Heels" released by Cocteau Twins" from:1984 till:1999 text:" The Jesus & Mary Chain" at:1984 text:"1984: "Upside Down / Vegetable Man" released by The Jesus & Mary Chain" at:1985 text:"1985: "Psychocandy" released by The Jesus & Mary Chain" from:1984 till:1994 text:" My Bloody Valentine" at:1988 text:"1988: "Isn't Anything" released by My Bloody Valentine" at:1991 text:"1991: "Loveless" released by My Bloody Valentine" from:1987 till:2000 text:" Bailter Space" from:1987 till:1994 text:" Chapterhouse" at:1991 text:"1991: "Whirlpool" released by Chapterhouse" from:1988 till:1996 text:"Ride" at:1990 text:"1990: "Nowhere" released by Ride" from:1988 till:1998 text:"Lush" at:1992 text:"1992: "Spooky" released by Lush" from:1989 till:1995 text:" Slowdive" at:1991 text:"1991: "Just For a Day" released by Slowdive" at:1993 text:"1993: "Souvlaki" released by Slowdive" from:1989 till:1999 text:"The Verve" at:1993 text:"1993: "A Storm In Heaven" released by The Verve" from:1990 till:2001 text:" Catherine Wheel" at:1991 text:"1991: "Ferment" released by Catherine Wheel" from:1990 till:1999 text:" Swervedriver" from:1991 till:1995 text:"Medicine" at:1992 text:"1992: "Shot Forth Self Living" released by Medicine
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:2680 All Music Guide genre entry]
* [http://www.musicomh.com/comment/shoegaze_0807.htm musicOMH.com Shoegaze revival feature]
* [http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/leave-them-all-behind/ Interesting article on genre]
List of shoegazing musicians
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