Saturday, January 17, 2009
Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze or shoegazer) is a genre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted until the mid 1990s with a critical zenith reached in 1990-'91. The British music press (notably NME and Melody Maker) called this genre "shoegazing" because the musicians in these bands often maintained a motionless performing style in concert, standing on stage and staring at their effects pedals or the floor while playing their instruments; hence, the idea that they were gazing at their shoes. The initiators of the style were the groups Ride, Chapterhouse, and Slowdive. The shoegazing sound featured extensive use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blended into the creative noise of the guitars. Few shoegazers were dynamic performers or interesting interviewees, which prevented them from breaking through into markets in the United States. A lump description given to shoegaze and other affiliated bands in London in the early 1990s was "The Scene That Celebrates Itself. In the 1990s, shoegaze groups were pushed aside by the American Grunge movement, forcing the relatively unknown bands to break up or reinvent their style altogether. Recent times have seen a renewed interest in the genre, among so-called "nu-gaze" bands
The bands first labelled as "shoegaze" were largely influenced by My Bloody Valentine, and emerged in the wake of their breakthrough in 1988 with the "You Made Me Realise" single and the album Isn't Anything, and the "shoegaze" label has more recently been applied to My Bloody Valentine themselves. Other artists that have been identified as influences on shoegazing include The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, Spacemen 3, Dinosaur Jr, The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Bauhaus, Galaxie 500, and The Smiths.
Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life cites an early 1990s Dinosaur Jr tour of the United Kingdom as a key influence. While not classified as a shoegazing band, Dinosaur Jr did share a tendency to blend poppy melody with loud guitars and laconic vocals. A lengthy summer 1992 U.S. tour featuring My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengo raised the genre's profile in the States considerably.