Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Kyle

From Shoegaze to Dream Pop

Recommended Posts

I'm afraid only Opus might chime in on this one, but here goes. Are there any shoegaze fans out there? I'll be honest, this isn't my most knowledgable of musical genres, but it is one that I have a healthy appreciation for. While I enjoy My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized my knowledge doesn't extend much past those two. However there are a few others that I thought I might mention.

Asobi Seksu

I have been listening to their 2006 album Citrus an awful lot lately. There is a good chance it will end up in my year end top ten list. If there is a line between shoegaze and dream pop, they straddle the line. The female vocals sung in half-Japanese/half-English are truly a dream. By not drenching the vocals themself in distortion, they give a human feeling to layers of sound created in the dense music. Asobi Seksu, despite the layers of distortion, give their songs room to breathe, giving the songs a pop bent that never fails to impress and enabling it to succeed in areas where, I think, other similar bands fail.

Velour 100

Again another band that can move back and forth from shoegaze to dream pop. While not as shoegazey as Asobi Seksu they certainly have their moments. I think Velour 100 is one of the most underrated artists of the Tooth and Nail back catalouge. I think they might have been a case of the wrong band, making the wrong music, on the wrong label, at the wrong time. I get the feeling they were making music that just wasn't fashionable at the time and in the right circles and thus got buried in the process. It is a shame, because they are a great, great band that made some great music.

Maplewood Lane

A current band that is totally on the dream pop side. Based off simple acoustic guitars and stunning vocal melodies, they lull the listener into a dream-like state. What I appreciate about their music is its versatility. It is a soundtrack for transitions. Specifically, it reminds me of the transitions of the seasons - Summer to Fall to Winter to Spring. It celebrates all things new, the cycle of dying and being reborn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Asobi Seksu

I've been meaning to pick up Citrus, but haven't yet. I've got a few Asobi Seksu tracks on various comps, and I really like their sound. It's not as ambient or drift-y as a lot of shoegaze stuff, and the vocals are very strong, much moreso than you'd expect from a band associated with the genre.

Velour 100

Yes! I've also thought they're one of the most underrated T&N bands. Fall Sounds is a fantastic album that strikes up a strong, evocative mood throughout. Unfortunately, I don't think their other albums, while good in places, quite measured up. Probably because Amon Krist left the band after Fall Sounds, and I think her voice was such a strong aspect of the music. One of my fave Cornerstone memories was catching a completely unplugged, improv Velour100 set with maybe 30-40 other people. You could barely hear them, because P.O.D. and some punk band (maybe MxPx) were playing on either side, but that just made it all of the more intimate.

Shoegaze is probably my fave genre, and one that I constantly return to time and again. I guess you could consider it my "comfort music". It doesn't matter who the band is, but if they bury sleepy male/female vocals beneath layers of ethereal, effects-laden guitars, I'm probably inclined to give it a spin. And I'll probably find it lovely, ethereal, inspirational, calming, blah, blah, blah.

If you're looking for other great shoegazer acts (some new, some old), then you've got to check out...

  • Slowdive (Quite possibly my fave band of all time. All of their albums are essential, but Souvlaki or the recent Catch The Breeze comp is a good place to start.)
  • Ride (Their career was pretty spotty in places, but Nowhere is fantastic.)
  • The Boo Radleys (Their later stuff was much more Britpop-y, albeit very good Britpop, but Everything's Alright Forever is quite good.)
  • Kitchens Of Distinction
  • Catherine Wheel
  • The House Of Love
  • Blind Mr. Jones
  • Alison's Halo
  • Should
  • Lush (Split has been in almost constant rotation in my car over the last few weeks. Spooky is also quite good.)
  • Lovesliescrushing (Listening to a lovesliescrushing song is like hearing all of the sounds and ideas of Loveless turned up to 11 and condensed into a single track. Glissceule and Xuvetyn are solid albums.)
  • July Skies
  • Pia Fraus (Totally derivative of MBV, Lush, and Stereolab... but still quite good and poppy.)
  • Astrobrite (A loveliescrushing side-project that much more rock-oriented.)
  • Bethany Curve (Shoegaze with a slightly goth twist. Flaxen is quite good.)
  • Pale Saints
  • Starflyer 59 (If you want to be picky, only their first album, is really truly shoegaze.)
  • Ester Drang (Specifically Goldenwest.)
  • Ceremony (Really loud, noisy stuff a la Jesus & Mary Chain with some goth/industrial flourishes. Fantastic stuff.)
And there plenty more that I've forgotten. If you're a fan of Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Coldplay, Starflyer 59, The Flaming Lips, and so on... all of these bands have at least some of their origins in shoegaze/dreampop/"miasma rock"/whatever you want to call it. Edited by opus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lush counts, right? I've been listening to my old Lush albums for the first time in a while, this past week or two.

Well Opus included them and he is the expert, so I'd say they count. :)

Asobi Seksu

I've been meaning to pick up Citrus, but haven't yet. I've got a few Asobi Seksu tracks on various comps, and I really like their sound. It's not as ambient or drift-y as a lot of shoegaze stuff, and the vocals are very strong, much moreso than you'd expect from a band associated with the genre.

Velour 100

Yes! I've also thought they're one of the most underrated T&N bands. Fall Sounds is a fantastic album that strikes up a strong, evocative mood throughout. Unfortunately, I don't think their other albums, while good in places, quite measured up. Probably because Amon Krist left the band after Fall Sounds, and I think her voice was such a strong aspect of the music. One of my fave Cornerstone memories was catching a completely unplugged, improv Velour100 set with maybe 30-40 other people. You could barely hear them, because P.O.D. and some punk band (maybe MxPx) were playing on either side, but that just made it all of the more intimate.

I think you'll like Citrus. On their website, they have a couple MP3's worth checking out. Too bad "Goodbye" isn't one of them.

I actually haven't heard all of Fall Sounds. It has actually been on my "to buy" list for awhile. I think you can purchase it (and Morella's Forest!) off T&N's website for about $3. Talk about well worth the money. I only saw Velour 100 play once (Tom Fest) and it was totally the wrong place at the wrong time. It was about 95 degrees in the middle of the afternoon on an outdoor stage. It did not really capture the essence of their music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
you can purchase it (and Morella's Forest!) off T&N's website for about $3. Talk about well worth the money.

Definitely. The first Morella's Forest CD (Super Deluxe) definitely has its moments, and is easily worth $3. I really wish MoFo (as we so affectionately called them) had stuck around longer and pushed their sound a bit more. They could have done some great things.

I only saw Velour 100 play once (Tom Fest) and it was totally the wrong place at the wrong time. It was about 95 degrees in the middle of the afternoon on an outdoor stage. It did not really capture the essence of their music.

No kidding... I think their music would've been perfect for a laidback, evening set on Cornerstone's coffeehouse stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am very much a shoegazer/dream pop fan. Opus listed some awesome bands, do check out his list.

One band I really, really love is Hum. I guess you could say they're not pure dream pop/shoegaze, but they have some key elements in place. Their album You'd Prefer An Astronaut is good, but their final release--Downward is Heavenward is amazing. Give them a look-see sometime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just remembered this Pitchfork article that came out a year ago. It's primarily about post-rock, but shoegaze dovetails quite nicely into any discussion about post-rock, and so there's a fair amount of shoegaze discussion in the article. Make sure to check out the list of bands and releases at the bottom, which is full of solid recommends (Bark Psychosis, Seefeel, Insides, South, Hood, etc.).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am very much a shoegazer/dream pop fan. Opus listed some awesome bands, do check out his list.

One band I really, really love is Hum. I guess you could say they're not pure dream pop/shoegaze, but they have some key elements in place. Their album You'd Prefer An Astronaut is good, but their final release--Downward is Heavenward is amazing. Give them a look-see sometime.

I love Hum, too. I haven't heard Downward is Heavenward in forever...I'm going to add it to my La La list for trades, though. I've got a Pandora station set up called "Midwest Hum-centric bands" whose core is Hum, Sleeping At Last, Poster Children. Sleeping at Last has become a recent fave in past months, in large part because of the similarity to Hum.

This is drifting away from shoegaze, I guess...sorry.

bvl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe it or not, I actually saw MoFo warm up for SF59 back in the day, years ago in Minneapolis, and I've always thought the show was one of my favorites.

-s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am very much a shoegazer/dream pop fan. Opus listed some awesome bands, do check out his list.

One band I really, really love is Hum. I guess you could say they're not pure dream pop/shoegaze, but they have some key elements in place. Their album You'd Prefer An Astronaut is good, but their final release--Downward is Heavenward is amazing. Give them a look-see sometime.

I haven't thought about Hum in years. I now really wish I could hear them again. One of my roommates in college was really into them and listened to them alot. I remember really enjoying them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't thought about Hum in years. I now really wish I could hear them again. One of my roommates in college was really into them and listened to them alot. I remember really enjoying them.

Give Pandora a try. Go to http://www.pandora.com, type in "hum" and go from there. You'll probably hear at least a couple Hum songs, plus stuff that sounds similar.

bvl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although most of the shoegazer bands that folks know about come from the U.K. (obviously) and the U.S., there are quite a number of great shoegazer bands from all around the world.

Case in point, I'm listening to some tracks by the Peruvian band Resplandor. It's classic shoegaze, with seemingly infinite layers of guitars lit up by all manner of effects pedals (delay, reverb, distortion, flanger, etc.). And then there's Silvania, who are also from Peru, and who bring a bit more of an electronic element to their musica la Slowdive's excursions into ambient techno.

The former Soviet Union has hotzex, Denmark has Windermere, and Canada's got Sianspheric and A Northern Chorus.

And let's not forget Japan, which has an abundance of shoegaze-inspired bands: Coaltar Of The Deepers, Hartfield, Luminous Orange, Moonwalk, Color Filter, Anoice ("Liange" is one of the lovelier tracks I've heard all year), Mono, and so on. A number of the Japanese bands move towards the extremes of the shoegaze spectrum: either all-out noise/feedback assaults, or super-poppy (albeit in a drifty, atmospheric way). Coaltar Of The Deepers even indulges in speed metal from time to time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So Opus, are you saying you listen to alot of shoegaze? :)

I also want to mention M83. I haven't had a chance to hear their last two albums, which I understand are a bit of a departure, but Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts is fabulous. By adding prominant keys, they penetrate the typical impenitrable wall of reverb with a dose of earthy sensibility. When it came out a couple of years ago, it really took me by surpise. I dug it alot. I'm not really sure why I didn't pick up their latest two efforts, from which I hear are pretty good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So Opus, are you saying you listen to alot of shoegaze? :)

I dabble from time to time. :)

I also want to mention M83. I haven't had a chance to hear their last two albums, which I understand are a bit of a departure, but Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts is fabulous. By adding prominant keys, they penetrate the typical impenitrable wall of reverb with a dose of earthy sensibility. When it came out a couple of years ago, it really took me by surpise. I dug it alot. I'm not really sure why I didn't pick up their latest two efforts, from which I hear are pretty good.

I don't quite understand all of the acclaim that's been heaped on M83's music, but they definitely do have some high points. Before The Dawn Heals Us is quite a bit warmer and more organic-sounding album than Dead Cities..., which I appreciate because I found the other album a bit too cold and sterile. Before The Dawn Heals Us's not quite as climactic or bombastic as their other stuff, and the best stuff on the album is reminiscent of Air's retro-synth sound. However, there's also some pretty spotty stuff as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lush counts, right? I've been listening to my old Lush albums for the first time in a while, this past week or two.

I downloaded Ciao! yesterday. I'm enjoying it so far, though I haven't been able to give it too much attention. For those Lush fans out there, how does it stand up as a retrospective? Is it pretty representative of their music? I also have a question about the order of songs. Are they in some sort of chronological order or are they ordered to make for a more cohesive listening experience?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, not familiar with Ciao!. But I still listen to those first three albums quite a bit.

Shoot man, does this mean I'm going to have to do research on my own?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I downloaded Ciao! yesterday. I'm enjoying it so far, though I haven't been able to give it too much attention. For those Lush fans out there, how does it stand up as a retrospective? Is it pretty representative of their music? I also have a question about the order of songs. Are they in some sort of chronological order or are they ordered to make for a more cohesive listening experience?

From what I can gather, the tracks are in reverse chronological order (i.e. Ciao!'s first tracks are those that came out at the end of Lush's career). I'm not too familiar with Lush's later stuff, but from what I understand, they started moving away from shoegaze and into more of a Britpop-y sound before the end. The two albums I'm most familiar with are Split and Spooky, which roughly encompasses tracks 5-13 on Ciao!.

Both albums are quite solid, though I'd say that Spooky is more purely shoegaze, full of short, sweet songs rife with chiming, shimmering guitars (courtesy of Robin Guthrie's production) and lovely female harmonies. Split, on the other hand, is much more ambitious and orchestral, with songs that push the 8-minute mark and explore darker lyrical territory. And of course, the vocal harmonies are as lovely and effortless as always.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Opus. I've still only listened to it once, but that sounds about right, based off the sound of the songs. I think there might be a couple of rarities thrown in there too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been listening to July Skies' Where The Days Go compilation quite a bit lately. I don't consider July Skies to be real shoegazer, but the effects of listening to Slowdive (as well as the Durutti Column) one too many times is clearly evident throughout the music. However, there's something about the unrepentantly nostalgic, reminiscent quality of the music that always proves affecting, even though all of the songs rather same-y: layers of simple, effects-laden guitar melodies, a little synth here and there, and fey, breathy vocals just pining away off in the distance over walks down forest roads, looking at old pictures, WW1 pilots, and other such things.

At times, it gets a little ridiculous and overwrought I suppose, but there's really nothing cloying or cutesy about July Skies' music. There's a sincerity about the music, such that I have no doubt that Harding really is wrapped up in such reminiscing, and almost stiflingly so, which lends a certain purity and artistic integrity to the July Skies' music. And if nothing else, the music is nothing if not pleasant and comfortable, like a nice warm blanket on a December morning or the smell of old newspapers. But I guess I sort of look at July Skies' music in a similar manner to how I look at The Clientele's.

Namely, both artists so fully invest their music with the cliches (in July Skies' case, its the shameless appropriation of Neil Halstead, Vini Reilly, and Robin Guthrie's guitar stylings, as well as the oh-so breathy vocals), so fully embrace the overwrought-ness inherent to their music, that it all gets turned inside out. The cliches seem fresh again, and the overwrought-ness becomes quite enveloping. At least for me... but I tend to be overly nostalgic anyways, so YMMV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just discovered Autolux via another forum that I frequent. The songs on their MySpace page are solid (the beat on "Turnstile Blues" is especially hott).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No one has given Serena-Maneesh a listen yet? They've been mentioned on this forum a few times and their self-titled album is great. For fans of Jesus & Mary Chain, MBV, etc. They are touring the U.S. this fall with Woven Hand (DEE solo) opening for a portion of the tour.

I know they've been mentioned in at least one other thread on A&F. I've listened to a couple of tracks on their MySpace page, and I liked what I heard. They should make for a nice contrast to Woven Hand on tour. Unfortunately, they're not coming anywhere close to Lincoln, NE, so I won't be able to find out for sure. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, they're not touring anywhere near me either. (boo hoo!)

Band worth checking out: Early Day Miners. They're based in Bloomington, IN. They're not strictly dream pop; they toss in elements of slight shoegaze shimmer, Americana, post-rock, and so on-- there's a big influence from Talk Talk, Daniel Lanois and the like. Still, a very good band that keep perfecting their sound with each album. They have a new disc (Offshore) coming out at the end of August. I have the advance copy, and I'll say it's probably the best thing they've released. It's a set of six tracks that merge perfectly, all of them based off of a song from an earlier album. (Here is a link to one of the new tracks.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×