There was a pretty big musical party going on by the mid-1990’s and it was named Shoegazing by iconic UK music mags NME and Melody Maker (named after the way bands would stand stoically, in an introspective manner, and stare at their shoes while they played their instruments). Wild guitar loops and effects with droning vocals were (and still are) the trademark sounds of this sub-genre’s distinction. Melody Maker even went so far as to dub it “The Scene That Celebrates Itself,” as the members of the various bands were always attending every other bands gigs and often would join in or simply join the other bands. The scene was powered by groups that went on to bigger things like Blur, My Bloody Valentine and Ride, as well as lesser known but no less important groups like Slowdive, Chapterhouse and Spacemen 3. Add Pale Saints, Catherine Wheel, Swervedriver (!) and Lush to this original list for a sufficient introduction to the sound, which gave way to the Dream Pop scene (The Verve, Kitchens Of Distinction, Spirea X and especially The Church being fine prime examples thereof).
By the late 90’s to early in the 21st century, Dream Pop began morphing into what is now sometimes called the “Nu-Gaze” era. Inclusive to this movement are many bands and artists that have music available from great labels like Tee Pee Records and Sonic Unyon (through The Orchard, of course), such as The Joy Formidable, Whirr and Ringo Deathstarr. And although the current list would also include some crossover acts like M83, Silversun Pickups and Beach House, Shoegaze/Nu-Gaze has come full circle twenty years on.
One of The Orchard’s newest labels, Slumberland Records, has been releasing like-minded singles and albums since 1989, and has put out recordings in the past by groups like Velocity Girl, Stereolab and The Lilys. More recently, they’ve struck oil with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Frankie Rose and The Outs, among others. Look for the new Veronica Falls album on February 12.
Happy New Year to everyone reading and hopefully we’ll all be able to “get our gaze on” in 2013!