A foreword on this list and shoegaze as a whole: the term “shoegazing” refers to the act of a musician staring down at the effects pedals at their feet, and using those pedals to distort their music into walls of sound and texture. Shoegaze as a genre was founded upon the slowcore and post-punk movements of the 80’s and effectively ended in the early 90’s, with the release of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless in 1991. The term nu-gaze (the pretentious portmanteau of new (nu) and shoegaze) is used to describe anything that comes after genre’s climax and refers to music that continues to utilize the techniques developed in the first wave of shoegaze. This playlist is meant to give a small, expository glance into what nu-gaze is and what shoegaze has become. I really enjoy shoegaze and I just think these are good songs.
- “Keep Slipping Away” by A Place to Bury Strangers
Though often classified as a noise rock band, A Place To Bury Strangers has definitive and audible roots in shoegaze. This song is taken from their 2009 album Exploding Head and departs from the usual dreaminess of gaze, taking a more industrial and post-punkish approach. The overall instrumentation is hollow and hard, making the atmosphere less encompassing and more confrontational.
- “Starting Over” by LSD and the Search for God
LSD and the Search for God has one of the coolest band names I have ever seen and some marble-smooth psychedelia/nu-gaze to offer. From their 2007 self-titled album, “Starting Over” features dueling male-female vocals as well as a gentle, slowdive-like approach to gaze. The song never startles, every sound colluding into an especially fluid, gauzy piece of love and regret.
- “Keen on Boys” by The Radio Dept.
The Radio Dept. is a Swedish group that has, of recently, solidified as a dream pop outfit. One of their earlier albums, however, veers more on the side of shoegaze, static and all. The song “Keen On Boys,” from their album Lesser Matters, is especially reminiscent of early gaze and is carried along by sheets of sharp guitar, ghostly vocals and soft presence.
- “Kim and Jessie” by M83
Anthony Gonzalez (M83) is a French electronic composer well known for his indie pop single “Midnight City.” Gonzalez, however, is no one-hit wonder and has a well-established discography going back seven albums and venturing into genres like post-rock, ambient and dream pop. From his 2008 album Saturdays = Youth comes “Kim and Jessie,” in which he attempts to blend the sounds of shoegaze and yesteryear synthpop into a single love ballad. The result is a youthful dance song, piloted by 80’s drum machines and interspersed with moments of sonic immersion. It is not true shoegaze, but certainly shows its colors.
- “Leave” by Whirr
The Bay Area band Whirr is an especially talented one, sharing members with metal band Deafheaven as well as indie rock duo Best Coast. They have a history of being somewhat hostile towards their listeners whether through inflammatory social media presence or their music, which is dark in atmosphere and ventures into deathrock. “Leave” comes from their 2012 album Distressor and thrives in moody, cymbal-shattering energy.
- “Holy Forest” by Pinkshinyultrablast
Pinkshinyultrablast is a Russian shoegaze group formed out of St. Petersburg. They write in English, however, and have an incredible working knowledge of shoegaze before them, their name actually being a reference to an album by fellow gaze artist Astrobrite. The track “Holy Forest” is from their 2015 debut Everything Else Matters; it is glossy, twinkling with electronic noise and sustained with distant female vocals.
- “Strawberries” by Asobi Seksu
Asobi Seksu is a female fronted, bilingual gaze band based in Brooklyn, New York. Their 2006 album Citrus (from which this track was chosen from) is well known as one of the better albums to come out of the shoegaze revival in the mid 00’s and features songs sung in both Japanese and English. This song begins with a plucky, quasi-country twang which then fuzzes over into a song that is stretching with noisy, pop enthusiasm.