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Shoegaze

Shoegaze is a genre of late '80s and early '90s British indie rock, named after the bands' motionless performing style, where they stood on stage and stared at the floor while they played. But shoegaze wasn't about visuals -- it was about pure sound. The sound of the music was overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion, and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other. Most shoegaze groups worked off the template My Bloody Valentine established with their early EPs and their first full-length album, Isn't Anything, but Dinosaur Jr., the Jesus & Mary Chain, and the Cocteau Twins were also major influences. Bands that followed -- most notably Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, and the Boo Radleys -- added their own stylistic flourishes. Ride veered close to '60s psychedelia, while Lush alternated between straight pop and the dream pop of the Cocteau Twins. Almost none of the shoegazers were dynamic performers or interesting interviews, which prevented them from breaking through into the crucial U.S. market. In 1992 -- after the groups had dominated the British music press and indie charts for about three years -- the shoegaze groups were swept aside by the twin tides of American grunge and Suede, the band to initiate the wave of Britpop that ruled British music during the mid-'90s. Some shoegazers broke up within a few years (Chapterhouse, Ride), while other groups -- such as the Boo Radleys and Lush -- evolved with the times and were able to sustain careers into the late '90s.

Shoegaze Album Highlights

  • Love Is Hell
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  • Isn't Anything
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  • The Comforts of Madness
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  • Nowhere
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  • In Ribbons
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  • Pubic Fruit
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  • Doppelgänger
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  • Split
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