5 albums that influenced the origins of shoegaze

5 albums that influenced the origins of shoegaze
5 albums that influenced the origins of shoegaze

Emerged in the late 80s, Shoegaze is a subgenre of alternative rock characterized by its loud and ethereal wall of sound.. His name was introduced by the British press to describe how guitarists looked at their pedals or guitar during live performances, associated with the artists’ lack of visual interaction due to both the immersion like his shyness.

Like a Frankenstein monster created from different elements, this genre amalgamates a series of elements such as the use of guitar pedals – delay, distortion and reverb -, often intelligible voices, synthesizers that create repetitive loops, and abstract and evocative lyrics. that create a feeling of dreaminess and nostalgia. This combination results in a superposition of layers and layers of sound that create an enveloping, dense, monotonous and, at the same time, hypnotic atmosphere.

Although the popularity of the genre was quickly eclipsed by grunge coming from the United States, coupled with the transfer of many shoegaze bands to the rise of Britpop. -that was the case of Ride and Lush, among others-, The movement resurfaced significantly starting in 2010, when numerous bands began to appear that revitalized their sound.. This motion was driven by the revival of nostalgic music and atmospheric guitars.

In the preface to Pitchfork’s list of the 50 greatest albums in shoegaze history, Peter Kember – singer and guitarist of Spacemen 3 – says that he realized that My Bloody Valentine was the precursor band of the genre after having seen them live. “The whole show was epic, flawless, but one song stood out in particular, a wobbly, distorted guitar trip that seemed to encompass the quintessence of psychedelia. They built elliptical loops. A reverberated synchronism of voices, bass and guitar […] that song was ‘You Made Me Realise,’ and a genre was born.”

Then in Indie Today We chose five albums prior to that founding moment, which were a direct influence on the emergence of shoegaze.

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico

1969Verve Records

The debut album of the American rock band The Velvet Underground in collaboration with the German singer Nico It was as controversial as it was revolutionary for its time. Released in the late 60s, the self-titled album explores an avant-garde and experimental sound. The group created a wall of sound from guitar distortions, dronal textures created from violas and the use of feedback, which contribute to a dark and atmospheric atmosphere.. For their part, the songs address topics such as drug addiction and sexual exploration, through a raw and minimalist approach that flirts with nihilism. The unconventional use of instruments and production techniques would become fundamental traits for shoegaze.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – A Kiss in the Dreamhouse


Many members of protogaze and shoegaze bands such as Cocteau Twins and Slowdive share a background of growing up with goth music, which led them to incorporate those influences into the sound of their own bands. A Kiss in the Dreamhouse by Siouxsie and the Banshees contains haunted vocals, memorable bass lines and heavy rhythms, making it an immersive, almost cinematic experience. Slowdive singer Rachel Goswell said on numerous occasions that she initially objected to her band sharing the name of a song by her favorite group; However, she was defeated in the vote by her colleagues and this is how the group bears the name of the song that closes this album.

Cocktail Twins – Treasure

1985 – 4AD

The third studio album by Cocteau Twins marked a turning point in the career of the enigmatic Scottish group. The band completely left behind the post punk present in their previous albums, to delve into a distinctive ethereal sound.. Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals take on phonetic qualities and move away from traditional lyricism to embrace a more abstract mood. The singer began to emphasize more on the sounds and musicality of language than on the words themselves, turning the voice into a more instrument.. Added to this are the mystical and dreamy guitars of Robin Guthrie, as well as the inclusion of Simon Raymonde in the band, who allowed for a greater variety of instruments such as keyboards, synthesizers and electronic drum programming. This allowed them to add more layers of sound and achieve greater texture and depth in their compositions.

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy

1985 – Blanco y Negro Records

Psychocandy was one of the first albums to feature most of the ingredients of what would later become the essential sound of shoegaze.. The album begins with the iconic “Just Like Honey”, which is very reminiscent of 60s pop and songs like “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, the first to use the wall of sound created by producer Phil Spector. . But the album soon evolves into a 40-minute long ball of noise and distortion, monotonous and often abrasive in nature, especially notable in songs like “Taste of Cindy.” Taking influence from a wide range of genres and artists such as the Ramones and The Velvet Underground, the Scottish band created a sound that paved the way for many of the structures that can be found in shoegaze today. It is difficult to find a band of the genre that does not quote The Jesus and Mary Chain as one of his main influences.

Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me

1987 – SST Records

The American band Dinosaur Jr. It was fundamental in the beginnings of genres such as grunge or shoegaze, despite not formally belonging to any of them. You’re Living All Over Me It is the album that marked what is considered “the Holy Trinity of shoegaze” made up of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Ride. The second album by the band led by J Mascis mixed relaxed and non-technical voices with extremely loud guitars full of feedback.. But it is a carefully sought-after chaos, as at times it becomes soft and even melodic. Dinosaur Jr. was one of the bands that motivated My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields to delve deeper into that saturated, reverberated guitar sound that he would later employ iconically in his own band.

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