5 Essential Shoegaze Albums
Shoegaze, the fascinating music genre every pedal lover and noise-rock enthusiast admires more than the common Joe (no pun intended). Shoegaze has been around since the 1990s, where it emerged from the indie and alternative rock scene in the United Kingdom.
Shoegaze artists are typically categorized by having an ethereal-sounding mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume tonal overtures. It’s a visceral experience that most music fans might not be too familiar with, but should.
Like any other genre, there’s a number of fantastic records that fit under the shoegaze umbrella, many of which are deemed to be essential shoegaze albums. To help get you started on your shoegaze journey or just as an overall album recommendation, let’s discuss 5 essential shoegaze albums and why you should listen to them.
1. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)
You can’t have a shoegaze discussion without bringing up My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 masterpiece Loveless. This record took two years to make and is reported to have cost £250,000, which can be heard through its noise, Avant-rock, and dream pop oriented sound. Kevin Shields wailing guitar is a prominent leading factor of the record, demonstrating a sound not normally heard in the early 1990s. Theme-wise, it’s a sorrowful and interpretive filled record that adds to the reasons why it’s the best shoegaze record of all time.
2. The Verve - A Storm in Heaven (1993)
The Verve’s A Storm in Heaven is less known to the world than Loveless, but is still a record of its own. A Storm in Heaven is an immediate intense and reverberated filled record that takes an emotional toll on the listener. The fuzz and driven guitars make it such a unique listen, while elements of ambient and cleverness stand out.
3. Slowdive - Souvlaki (1993)
Souvlaki is a beautiful chorus and reverb-filled album that strokes another emotion with its incredible lyricism, striking song structures, and the constant wondering of what’s to come. Many cite Slowdive to be on the number two list right behind My Bloody Valentine for being one of the best shoegaze bands, and rightfully so. This album doesn’t necessarily drive or punk a punch as much as A Storm in Heaven or Loveless, but it’s still fantastic nevertheless.
4. Swervedriver - Mezcal Head (1993)
Some people might not classify Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head as being a part of the shoegaze spectrum, but it certainly has elements of it. This moving and punk-sounding record gets off to a fast start with its opening track For Seeking Heat. By the end of the track, we start to see why and how this is a shoegaze album with its eerie finish to otherworldly lines played over its rock foundation.
5. Ride - Nowhere (1990)
Lastly, we have Ride’s 1990 record, Nowhere. Nowhere is one of the first shoegaze albums to have reached the mass populous, and without it, it’s challenging to say how the genre would’ve evolved. Nowhere is an immaculate record that begins with a riff similar to The Beatles Taxman, but takes a massive turn with what’s to come from the album. It’s a monumental moment in rock history for being the foundation for shoegaze.
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