Going Blank Again: a history of shoegaze

Stars Ride, Lush and more...

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Nat Cramp, who runs a successful shoegaze night and record label called Sonic Cathedral, can identify two factors that helped rekindle interest in the genre. “The Lost In Translation soundtrack put the music in a new context,” says Cramp, namechecking Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film that included Kevin Shields’ first new music in 12 years. “It was a mainstream success, too. The same year, MySpace made ‘shoegaze’ a genre choice, just making it a descriptive terms without any negative connotations.”

In 2007 – four years after “Just Like Honey” appeared in Lost In Translation – the Jesus And Mary Chain made their comeback at the Coachella festival (the subsequent launchpad for many shoegaze reunions). The following year, My Bloody Valentine returned to active service. Ensuing Chapterhouse and Swervedriver reunions have been less storied than those of Slowdive (2014), Ride (2015) and Lush (2016). “I think the records have clearly stood the test of time,” Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell told Uncut in 2015. “Music always goes in cycles, doesn’t it? Now is the time of that period of music.”


But shoegazing is no longer simply the business of a handful of bands from London’s outer fringes. In 2015, Jakartan label Anoa Records released Holy Noise, a compilation of Indonesian shoegazing bands, while hip hop artists have routinely sampled bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Though you might wonder at the route that led Bay Area rapper Lil B to detail a hard knock life in the Berkeley projects on “Eternal Slumber” over a loop from “Catch The Breeze”.

For now, though, two of the genre’s key protagonists are gearing up to release new albums. Slowdive’s new self-titled record recaptures the experimental textures of the band’s second album, Souvlaki – a fan favourite. Meanwhile, Ride’s Weather Diaries is released on Witchita – the label co-run by Dick Green, formerly Alan McGree’s business partner at Creation.

“I like to think if you do good music, it lasts,” reflects Gardener. “That’s the challenge, even now. How do you make music sound interesting? For me, those bands – My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3, the Cocteau Twins – did it. Everything was perfectly executed. It didn’t feel contrived. It felt very natural. We were just lost in the music.”

The December 2017 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Robert Plant on the cover. Plant and his band have also compiled our free CD, which includes tracks by Bert Jansch, Daniel Lanois, Patty Griffin, Thee Oh Sees and more. Elsewhere in the issue, we remember Tom Petty and there are new interviews with REM, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bootsy Collins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Ronnie Spector. We review Morrissey, Sharon Jones, Mavis Staples, Hüsker Dü, Tim Buckley and Talk Talk and much more.


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