Monday, February 11, 2013

Return of the Shoegazers

FOR a few thousand of us, last week marked one of the musical events of the decade. After more than 20 years of near-silence, My Bloody Valentine released a new, noisy, hazy, dreamy new album. I spent part of 1990 in England, where the shoegaze revolution was roaring full force, and passed much of the '90s sulking through record stores trying to find out of print EPs and import singles by this glorious band. (In the early '90s I saw Ride at the "old" 9:30 Club and the band was so loud my then girlfriend fled the venue and met me on the sidewalk outside after the show.)

So while I've not really had the chance to turn the new MBV up to 11, it all sent me back to my love of the genre, and to a story I wrote a few years ago about the shoegaze movement. The dreampop field was so out of fashion then, and so limited to fellow powerless Gen Xers, that I had to plead mightily for the space for this modest piece. It begins:

About a decade ago, while the Seattle grunge movement was drawing most of the music media's attention, a loose collection of mop-topped British and Irish musicians who explored guitar textures, converted noise into dreamy melody and experimented with hip-hop beats made some of the most compelling music of their era.

These days, a number of younger bands are emulating the rush of the original late '80s/early '90s shoegazers. One of those is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who also bring in other early indie movements. A former member of the band -- L.A.-based Chris Hochheim, who calls himself Ablebody -- has a fine new EP. Like his old band, it's hardly a carbon copy of Ride or MBV or Slowdive, but feels deeply connected to those bands.

Here is a link to listen to Ablebody's All My Everybody EP.

No comments: