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Shoegazing

From Academic Kids

Shoegazing is a style of music that emerged in the British Isles in the late 1980s. The defining opener of the genre is said to be Isn't Anything by My Bloody Valentine, released in 1988 (see 1988 in music). The last album by My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, released in 1991 is often considered the peak of Shoegazing music.

Shoegazing is characterized by the use of distortion and the fuzzbox, droning riffs and a Spectorish wall of sound from the noisy guitars. Vocals are typically subdued in volume and tone, but underneath the layers of guitars was often a strong sense of melody. While the genres which influenced shoegazing often used drum machines, shoegazing more often featured live drumming. Shoegazing drummers such as Chris Cooper of Pale Saints and the late Chris Acland of the now split-up Lush often displayed complex drumming.

The name was coined by the New Musical Express, playfully noting 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 bands' habits of attending each others gigs, often in Camden).

As with C86 before it, the Velvet Underground proved to be a major influence, with many of the bands eschewing the punk era altogether, though bands like The Cramps, Pere Ubu and The Birthday Party proved influential in some cases, especially with the forerunners of the genre. However, in the main, artists like The Jesus & Mary Chain and especially Cocteau Twins and Spacemen 3 (whose leader, Jason Pierce, aka Jay Spaceman, later formed shoegazer band Spiritualized) gave birth to the genre directly rather than through oblique influences.

Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life traces shoegazing to a Dinosaur Jr tour of the United Kingdom. While not generally classified as shoegazing, Dinosaur Jr did share a tendency to blend poppy melody with loud guitars.

The first stirrings of recognition came when indie scribe Steve Lamacq referred to Ride in a review for the NME as "The House of Love with chainsaws". The music is sometimes now referred to as a category of dream pop (though this term is mainly restricted to the US).

The genre as a label was quite often mis-applied. Swervedriver found themselves labelled 'shoegazers' on account of their Thames Valley (where key bands such as Ride, Chapterhouse and Slowdive hailed) origins, despite their more profound Hüsker Dü stylings. Curve were once described as "the exact point where shoegazer meets goth" and the genre did overlap with others to some extent. It was certainly the case that bands like Blur, on occasion, chanced their arm with shoegazer-esque tunes ('She's So High' for instance) on a purely commercial basis. The careers of Thousand Yard Stare and Revolver were over before anyone had even noticed they'd begun, on account of the eventual backlash that befell the scene.

Slowdive eventually became the Alternative country leaning Mojave 3 while other protagonists in the genre either gave up the ghost or moved in other directions, such as Andy Bell of Ride who later joined Oasis after his own Britpop project Hurricane #1 faltered. A number have found solace in post-rock.

In recent years a number of bands such as Bethany Curve have continued the shoegazing trend, and NME has recently pointed out the shoegazing influence in a number of up and coming bands, which it has called "new-gazing".

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See also

External links

Alternative rock
Britpop - College rock - Dream pop - Gothic rock - Grunge - Indie - Jam band - Madchester - New Wave - Twee
Bands - History

de:Shoegazing fr:Shoegazer nl:Shoegaze ja:Shoegazer

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