For the Record: Music dump Friday – Shoegaze

Audrey Morrison, Staff Reporter

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In For The Record, Audrey Morrison talks new albums, concerts, and more. (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

This week I’m talking about the highly contested genre: shoegaze. You either love it or you hate it. Or you don’t know about it. If you fall into this category let me give you a brief history. 

While its origins are a bit murky, shoegaze can be dated back to the late 1980s, where it likely began in England. Its name, which mocks the way that musicians of this genre or the like stare at their effects pedals while appearing to stare at their shoes (or “shoe gazing”), describes a distortion-heavy, usually melancholy or droning cataclysmic sound. Some have likened shoegaze to listening to a vacuum cleaner (I think it sounds more like a blown-out speaker, but to each their own). I just think it’s neat. 

Shoegaze’s wavy guitars and synth-like melodies have induced incredibly far-reaching influences. If you like Car Seat Headrest, The 1975, Beach House, or any similar bands, you’d probably like shoegaze. A lot of the sound garnered from their use of guitar pedal effects and void-like vocals take inspiration from earlier shoegaze/dream pop artists like My Bloody Valentine, the Cocteau Twins, and LSD and the Search for God (all of which are featured on my playlist).

As I’ve said, on this playlist I’ve featured many of the early shoegaze luminaries (MBV, the Cocteau Twins, etc.), but I’ve also included some international shoegaze bands hailing from varying countries as far and differing as Russia and Italy. Listen at your own risk and enjoy.

The first song on this playlist is a classic for most shoegaze fans: “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine. Released in 1991, “When You Sleep,” from the acclaimed album “Loveless,” takes influence from earlier punk and psychedelic rock of their day. It might take a couple listens for it to grow on you – but once it does – you’re hooked.

Another equally note-worthy song for this Friday is “Ciel errant” by French duo Alcest. “Ciel errant” begins deceptively acoustic, then bombards you with crooked guitars. Coupled with singer Neige’s laid-back croons, it creates a dichotomic sound.

Check out the playlist here: