I admit: I’ve never really gotten into Shoegaze. Not yet, at least. What is it, exactly? It’s a subgenre of indie and alt-rock known for obscured vocals, guitar distortion, and loud noise. It’s often defined more by atmosphere and textures rather than more traditional song structures. The lyrical content isn’t a main theme, with vocals sometimes being so obscured that they’re thought of as another instrument.
Shoegaze is linked to neo-psychedelia, initially emerging in Ireland and the U.K. in the Eighties. Where the name comes from is well-known by now: the heavy use of effects pedals with the performers staring down during live shows.
I’m writing about this because a new compilation by the re-issue label Two-Piers will cover the history of shoegaze and could be an excellent place to start if you’re intrigued but know nothing about the genre. Waves of Distortion (The Best Shoegaze 1990-2022) is a “magical journey through the history of the scene” from its founding to the current bands playing the style. The double LP record will be released on April 28, 2023, featuring OG (original gazer) classics like Ride’s Vapour Trail and Lush’s Sweetness and Light from 1990.
The compilation also features shoegaze acts from around the world. Beach House and Ringo Deathstarr represent America. Lowtide and Flyying Colours come from Australia, and Echo Ladies hail from Sweden. Mogwai also appears on the compilation with “Kids Will Be Skeletons,” adding some post-rock shoegaze stylings. Shoegaze standard-bearers like Slow Dive also appear. The new compilation starts with Slowdive’s song, Slomo.
I thought it was interesting that My Bloody Valentine isn’t on the compilation, whose Loveless album from 1991 is seen as one of Shoegaze’s defining albums. The Jesus and Mary Chain are also missing, as well as Cocteau Twins. Nevertheless, this compilation seems like a cool deep dive into the hazy genre. There’s been a renewed interest in Shoegaze for a while now, along with new genres like Nu Gaze and Blackgaze. So many genres and so little time!
Waves of Distortion will be a limited 2LP Transparent Red Vinyl you can find on Bandcamp, among other places. The reissue label, Two-Piers, is based in Brighton, U.K., and was launched during the COVID lockdowns by “four people who forgot to get a proper job” and “put out re-issues and compilations which need to be heard.” Even if you’re a casual shoegaze fan like me, this release looks worth checking out to brush up on an influential genre.
Click here for the link to the Waves of Distortion compilation on Bandcamp.
Support the Two-Piers label by finding them on Bandcamp or social media (Facebook, Instagram).
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