Cruel Shoegazing, Soft Shoegazing, Shoegazing Into the Distance

The appropriately named blog Chromewaves has a great post about Ride today; They made three fine albums (don’t – I said don’t – buy anything after Going Blank Again) in the early nineties and warrant a listen before/during the inevitable shoegazing revival. Didn’t know that they’d briefly reunited three years ago. Not sure I’d care, especially if they’re including their later stuff, right before they disbanded, thankfully, in, what, ’96?

I listened to their “Leave Them All Behind (mp3)” and “Chromewaves” each morning while waiting for the train in London in 1992. Not my fave songs, but they have sentimental value. Saw them play Brixton that spring, and their drummer was everything you’d guess he was, Keith Moon-worthy atop a giant riser, cleaner player than Moon, even, if he wanted. They were still playing most of Nowhere, an album which remains a mindblowing teenage experience for me, namely when I slipped that cassette into my car stereo and poured speed into the V8 on the way home from the rekkid store. I’d been buying some dump albums, but Nowhere was something. I went out and bought a vinyl copy the next day. It still stands up.

But I think shoegazing, as a genre, really has a small set of worthwhile practitioners and then not much else; the Telelscopes seem to be getting the resurrection treatment, but why bother with them when you can buy a decent My Bloody Valentine record? Something like the EP collection Ecstasy and Wine or any other EPs, which aren’t Loveless, but they’ll be as good as any Telelscopes album. Chapterhouse is also getting a shoegaze reissue. Not much to recommend there, either; they sound awfully dated. Catherine Wheel’s first two, maybe Slowdive’s first (their 2nd, Souvlaki isn’t shoegazing, not to me). What’s needed is a Rhino or Ryko compilation collecting those shoegaze one-hit-wonders, like Swervedriver, who need no revisiting beyond a song or two. Velocity Girl might not even warrant a single song.

I’d buy that compilation. So would you.

And they could do us all a favor and resurrect Skywave, the painfully unnoticed shoegave outfit from the DC area, originally, I think. Dunno if they even still exist; from the looks of their site, they’re not too busy. Dropped some nifty singles in the mid-late-nineties and maybe an album or one. Here’s a WFMU live set, if it still works.

Three fanfrikkintastic mp3s:

Skywave – It’s In Your Eyes

Skywave – Seen it all

Skywave – Walk of stars

So you can see why I held off on Serena Maneesh for so long. Retro like a mf-er, Norweigian youngsters offering an almost criminal MBV impression. But since Shields can’t get his epstein-barr under control, or whatever he has, I’ve some around to letting SM fix my MBV jones. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club made a nice stab at this a few years ago, but their debut seems to be all they had in their tank.

Serena Maneesh -Selina’s Melodie Fountain

Those Scandinavians. They don’t hate America because we make their countries warmer with our pollution.

15 thoughts on “Cruel Shoegazing, Soft Shoegazing, Shoegazing Into the Distance

  1. Interesting post Mr. Parnell. Yes, the telescopes were overated, but still better than Primal Scream. The Smashing Orange single My Deranged Heart was one of my favorite shoe gazing moments, but then again, us folks from Delaware are bound to say that. Mojave 3 is my favorite shoe gaze outfit, and sorely underrated. And of course, when Teenage Fanclub started out, they were self declared shoe gazers (Star Sign for one). And of course, early Jesus and Mary Chain could be called pre-shoegaze.Also, the first few Pale Saints singles, wonderful. Spacemen 3 too, but perhaps they were no-gaze. My two cents.

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  2. Swell additional comments. Thanks for lowering Primal Scream to their rightful bottom rung. Never liked … maybe even hated, them. Smashing Orange will have a moment on the inevitable shoegaze comp.Fanclub (starsign is a fave), Mojave 3, JMC not always considered shoegaze is right; prob because they all left the genre quickly. Never considered Mojave to be shoegaze.Pale Saints, Yes – big Ride influence. Spacemen 3 were terrorists of a sort.Some other singles-worthy culprits: House of Love; Boo Radleys, Curve. Others I can think of, but too embarrassing to discuss.But you know who the elephant in the shoegaze room is, right?Radiohead.They’re not possible without shoegaze bands. But they come from it, and use it still, and went bloopy bleepy with it.

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  3. Good points. If we open up the shoe gaze door for House of Love, then all of those Sarah and Creation bands like Field Mice and Weather Prohpets would also be there too. Perhaps Mojave 3 was a stretch. Thinking about it, shoe gaze needs distortion and delay, Mohave, HOL, and somewhere else, you are right. As far as Radiohead go, I honestly enjoy Primal Scream more (and I haven’t listented to Primal Scream in 15 years). I always felt that Chapterhouse/Boo Radlys/Curve were minor league bands. Top five shoe gaze moments, in my humble opinion:My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t AnythingSwervedriver – first two epsSlowdive – everything until the second full length albumTeenage Fanclub – Star Sign single and that entire first albumPale Saints – Sight of You single Smashing Orange – My Deranged HeartIn my estimation, everything else was an afterthought. Just check out the new Sky Drops (ex Smashing Orange). Even the best shoe gaze is dead.

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  4. My ten song shoe gaze comp:Slowdive – Catch the BreezeMy Bloddy Valentine – ThornRide – Polar BearTeenage Fanclub – Star SignSmashing Orange – My Deranged HeartCodeine – New Year’sSwervedriver – Rave DownPale Saints – Sight of YouRide – Vapour TrailMy Bloody Valentine – SoonMy ten song pree-shoe gaze compVelvet Underground – Candy SaysJMC – Never UnderstandSpacemen 3 – Walking with JesusThe Smiths – SoonBiff Bang Pow – Love’s Going Out of FashionJMC – Just Like HoneyOpal – Rocket MachineHouse of Love – ChristineGalaxie 500 – Flowers Sonic Youth – Expressway to yr skull

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  5. how about sarah’s secret shine? also eternal? and what about spectacle? bet you don’t know them.

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  6. Just had to say, well done for putting Ride up on this page!Not heard this tune in ages. If your looking for some fine ride tunes the album carnival of light cannot be missed. The song Blackbird is one of those songs that you wish you had wroteanyway rant overCaboodle

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  7. Mr. Parnel:This anonymous writer is the proud owner of all four Sarah compilations and many of the early single, so yes, this anonymous writer knows about secret shine and the like. Those bands are what some may call “twee pop.” As far as shoegazing goes, as close as Sarah bands get is probably the Field Mice with their “Tiling at Windmills” period. Perhaps Even As We Speak has some shoegaze moments as well, but Sarah bands hold a special place that is all of their own.

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  8. Agreed. I know all those Sarah mopes,from Northern Picture Library, Heavenly, to even the forgettable Secret Shine etc. Throw in the mid-nineties Providence RI bands that aped them so well and so badly sometimes. Bet I know them too. Some personally.Caboodle: Love your Ride sentiment, but I must admit: bought Carnival of Light upon it’s orig release, and it remained in my possession just long enough for me to try and listen to it twice, which caused it to hit the grill of a truck driving past my apartment window. Sorry.

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  9. Carnival of Light was almost as dissapointing as The Stone Roses second album. After that shark ep and Nowhere, great things were expected of Ride. COme to think of it, Ride’s second album and Teenage Fanclub’s 3rd album must have sent many a music listener into deep depresssion.

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  10. Carnival of Light was almost as dissapointing as The Stone Roses second album. After that shark ep and Nowhere, great things were expected of Ride. COme to think of it, Ride’s second album and Teenage Fanclub’s 3rd album must have sent many a music listener into deep depresssion.

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  11. ANYONE REMEMBER OR FAMILIAR WITH SPECTACLE? THEY WERE NOT FROM SARAH RECORDS BUT SOME OBSCURE LABEL I CAN’T REMEMBER. THEY WERE A MID 90’S BAND. ANYONE? PLEASE HELP.

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  12. “everything’s alright forever” by the boo radleys is pure shoegaze (dreampop is a more accurate word)and is maybe even better than Nowhere by Ride

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  13. you know, i’m willing to entertain that notion since I remember that BR album being quite impressive. HAven’t owned it for awhile, though. Now I’ll track it down.Thanks

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