The first thing most people think of when they hear shoegaze (if they have heard that word at all) is My Bloody Valentine. If you think the pinnacle of shoegaze is Loveless, then you have sadly been deprived. Sure, there are emotive melodies buried in walls of guitar in most shoegaze, but there is quite a lot of diversity out there. It just takes a bit more digging than usual. That, or you can read my blog.
Despite its incredibly underground nature, shoegaze has seen a bit of a revival in the past decade. Though the main theme is still melody through noise, better recording tools have allowed for much more experimentation. There was a limit to the sounds that could be produced in the early 90's, made apparent by the ungodly amount of money Kevin Shields spent perfecting his tone. The result of this better technology is incredibly smooth and polished shoegaze, which the genre desperately needed. This, however, leaves a daunting amount of material to sift through. Should I go with old or new? Well, I say both. In my shoegaze blogs I will do quick reviews of two albums, one old and one new. Starting.....now.
Black Tambourine - Complete Recordings (1999)
If there was ever any confusion about who the shortest-lived-yet-still-influential band is, then let there be confusion no more. This is that band. Active in the late 80's and early 90's, Black Tambourine never even released a proper album. What we get is their Complete Recordings. Now, I know a new compilation was just released this year, but I haven't listened to it and I doubt it will shed much new light on this band.
So, what exactly did they do? They basically combined the pop sensibilities of New Wave and the crazed wall of guitars that the Jesus and Mary Chain were infamous for. That in itself isn't much, and in all honesty the band isn't anything absolutely earth shattering, but they influenced the scene all the same. Later shoegaze bands took their basic idea and ran with it. The length of time they actually had to write music together must also be taken into account. This band could have become something huge. Stand out tracks are “For Ex-Lovers Only” and “Pack You Up”. 7/10, yet still a shoegaze essential.
Soundpool - Dichotomies and Dreamland (2008)
Coming from New York, Soundpool is a band that really deserves everyone's attention. Dichotomies and Dreamland is the perfect title for this album. The dichotomy comes from the idea that they have droning guitars and synth while simultaneously having a very danceable rhythm section. Anyone vaguely familiar with this genre knows it is not particularly danceable. Soundpool pulls it off flawlessly.
The album kicks off with a short intro piece and a pretty decent opening number, but the album really caught my attention when “Butterflies” came around. I love the album experience and very rarely skip or repeat tracks, but that one got put on repeat a couple times. I would say all of the tracks are incredibly well written and there isn't a dud in the whole bunch. Though I would describe their album as “dance shoegaze”, that tag really does not do this band justice. You will just have to listen to the album to understand what I mean. Soundpool really hit on something magical and I am very excited to hear what else they can do. In fact, they recently released a new album this year that I have yet to listen to. Expect a post on that album in the near future as well. This one gets a 9/10.
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