A couple of months ago, I created a round-up review based on artists with elements of dream-pop within their music. I really enjoyed delving into the style, so I decided this time around to take a look at dream-pop’s twin sister – shoegaze. As a heavily admired genre, it really deserves more attention, particularly considering how many amazing undergrounds artists there are within the style. Read on to find out more!
Review by Jane Howkins
Photo by Koalra
Koalra – The Clouds Still Hang On You
First up we have Portland-based band Koalra – also probably the band that fits the shoegaze genre the most here. Their new release, The Clouds Still Hang On You is a perfect example of the style, featuring a huge drum beat that carries through most of the tune. The guitars are used sparingly, allowing the bassline to really shine through. The vocals have that classic shoegaze sound – they’re a little distant in the mix, but they work really well, creating a palpable atmosphere that will wow anyone into this style of music!
Russell Joslin & High Black Water – Bridlepath Lane
Bridlepath Lane is a Jesus and Mary Chain inspired tune created by Russell Joslin & High Black Water, also featuring Sarah McCaig. It comes from their new record O Veisalgia and has the typical shoegaze style from the start, featuring a huge bassline and some intense guitar licks that really help to curate a fantastic atmosphere. The vocals, on the other hand, are pretty prominent, singing along in an emotive way throughout the track. You can really feel the passion in Russell’s vocals, carrying through the tune to the slightly more positive chorus in a wonderful way. If you like this track, Russell and Sarah are also performing a duet gig at Northern Guitars in Leeds tomorrow afternoon!
Shadowbanned – Innocent Bystander
Manchester-based band Shadowbanned have created something really dreamy with new track Innocent Bystander. It opens with a dazzling array of synths, creating something a little different in the dream-pop/shoegaze world. However, the vocals have that classic shoegaze sound, drifting through the music effortlessly. The production and drum style add something of an 80s quality to the music, mixing genres together in a captivating way! The chorus is really astounding, enveloping the listener with a mass array of textures and sounds, getting deep into your soul on the very first listen.
Windows – Upstairs
West Coast band Windows are a little different to some of the other artists on this list, as they also lean heavily into the surf rock and country genres, making for a unique mix! However, the vocals on Upstairs have an almost shoegaze sound, with the surfy guitar descending into dream-pop territory at times. Regardless, it’s an extremely catchy tune – whilst the same chord sequence runs through the majority of the track, it makes it all sound very hooky – especially when the main refrain is repeated on the chorus. Check this out if you like your music with a mish-mash of genres.
Thistle Sifter – Forgotten Man
Thistle Sifter is an ambient instrumental project created by British musician Pete Barnes, having more than a hint of post-rock about it. Forgotten Man is a really impressive track, showing the full scope of Pete’s talents. It starts off with some crashing riffs, creating a cool instrumental backbone to the piece. However, the song soon mellows out, as a slew of pretty clean guitar lines ripple over each other like waves, before the heavier riffs kick back in again. Forgotten Man is a really evocative piece of music, and one that is well worth checking out!
Vvii – Rouse
Rouse sees this review heading into heavier territory, created by New York rocker Vvii. The track takes influence from the grunge, hard rock, electronic and shoegaze scenes, making for an amazing melding of sounds and styles. Vvii has a pretty unique vocal style, going through a wide range on this track with her sultry voice. The bass is absolutely huge here, as spidery guitar motifs play around the rhythm section, creating multiple layers of awesomeness. It’s quite experimental at times, but that’s to be expected from a song of this nature, only amplifying how good it is!
TNL VZN – Persephone
The curiously titled TNL VZN has curated something really cool with Persephone, opening with some killer riffs, full of distortion and energy. The verses are a tad mellower, although the riffage never really disappears, progressing into some awesome guitar licks as the music continues. The real focal point of the tune is the chorus, which sees everything rise up to full throttle again, as the vocals soar, building up to some new heights. Despite having that distant sound that shoegaze songs often add, the vocals are still extremely powerful, showing some real talent from this intriguing artist.
mUmbo – Red Balloons
Last up, we have London-based alt-rock/pop project mUmbo, which mixes a very dreamy quality into a more traditional grunge rock sound. The main guitar melody on Red Balloons repeats over and over, creating a pretty little arpeggio. The guitar has quite a unique tone, making for something remarkably different in the modern era. The vocals are also rather distinctive, but they work surprisingly well with the rest of the music, taking on a distorted quality at times. The main motif continues throughout the track, rising up to a haunting crescendo of sounds towards the end.