Last week’s ‘gaze-centric listicle Bandcamp’s Rare Shoegaze Gems From All Eras Unearthed seemed to go over quite well, so here’s another along the same lines though to be fair, Eli Enis’ New Wave of American Shoegaze piece is far more than a laundry list of things to listen to. It’s a very thorough and exhaustive look at the state of shoegaze in the United States, starting from its roots in the heavier acts of the original ’90s scene through its revival in a much noisier and abrasive incarnation in the ’10s to what he sees as a more experimental and less dogmatic brand of shoegaze that is cause for excitement – and a giant feature – as the mid-’20s draw up.
I, for one, never liked the the sludgy or super-noisy stuff that was typical of American ‘gaze, preferring the texture and atmosphere of the OGs from the other side of the Atlantic, but Enis makes a strong argument for the perhaps less tuneful but more adventurous acts that he focuses on as well as their forebears. Unsurprisingly, most of the acts he focuses on are completely new to me – I’ve heard Spirit Of The Beehive, Wednesday, and Knifeplay came to my attention, well, last week, but that’s about it. But working my way through the provided Bandcamp embeds is eye- and ear-opening, particularly the late Blue Smiley, though with their sonic through-line to the whammy bars and chorus pedals of the scene originators, that’s probably no surprise.
There’s no new favourite band for me out of this, and only a handful of things I’ll likely listen to more than once or twice, but it was really nice to read a feature-length piece that discusses shoegaze as a living, evolving movement rather than just a museum piece. It definitely deserved better than to be published in the dead zone a couple days before Christmas, so do check it out.
And if you’re a Stereogum subscriber – well, you probably didn’t need me to tell you about a month-old article – but if you did, know that you also have access to a curated playlist to accompany the article. Everyone else can furiously type band names into their streaming service of choice.