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The Shuffle: Shoegaze for Days

vinyl records on a shelf with a pair of black headphones

By Alleah Boisvert

Shoegaze is a subgenre birthed in the UK in the late 80s from alternative and indie rock. This genre is a staple for alternative music lovers and is characterized by its dreamy and heavy guitar distortion, noise feedback, veiled vocals, pedal work and slightly offbeat rhythms.

The name “shoegaze” formed from the way artists look down at their feet while using synth pedals during their live performances, which are often incredibly loud. Shoegaze is an addicting sound that hooks listeners in.

Capybara by Slow Girl Walking
With only three members, Edmonton’s own Slow Girl Walking’s wall of noise, pace changes and ethereal vocals have pretty much everything the genre has to offer. The beginning of Capybara is especially memorable, but the band’s other songs can be listened to or purchased on their Bandcamp.

When You Sleep by My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine is essential listening for shoegaze fans and is said to be one of the defining bands of the genre. This song has an unforgettable tune and simple love-song lyrics that blend slightly into the instrumentals of each verse. It’s perfect for daydreaming about a crush.

When the Sun Hits by Slowdive
Slowdive’s iconic 1993 album, Souvlaki, is a must-listen for anyone exploring shoegaze. This song’s minor to major chord changes is reminiscent of a cloudy summer day.

Blue Line Baby by Nothing
As dreamy as this song sounds, it is written about an opioid outbreak that took place in Northern Philadelphia during the 90s. Blue Line Baby has a beautiful chorus and is deep and heavy shoegaze cut.

Nothing Natural by Lush
This song’s quick beat and sweet, hazy female vocals will send listeners into a spiral. The bursts of distorted guitar create a charismatic sound from this late 80s UK band, which was one of the first to have the “shoegaze” label.

Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) by Deftones
Deftones is labelled as an alternative metal band, but the characteristics of shoegaze in this song are fitting to describe the genre. The catchy guitar riffs, screaming vocals, and general noise rock in this song are perhaps a little more nightmarish than dreamy to some but are great for anyone who likes an edgier sound.

Glow by Slow Crush
Modern shoegaze bands like Slow Crush are sometimes known as “Nu-gaze”. The dense and impenetrable guitar in this song match so perfectly with frontwoman Isa Holliday’s soothing vocals. Slow Crush is certainly a hidden shoegaze gem of a band.

Lorelei by Cocteau Twins
Cocteau Twins helped define aspects of the shoegaze subgenre but are more suitable to a subgenre called “dream pop”, which is closely related. No one really understands what Cocteau Twins is saying, but their music is so beautiful that it doesn’t even matter.

Kick the Tragedy by Drop Nineteens
This nearly 10-minute tune is a lovely shoegaze instrumental that somehow never gets skipped over despite its length. The spoken monologue halfway through gives a feeling of summer nostalgia.

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