Results for shoegaze

interviews

Best Coast

Jim and Greg are joined by the members of Best Coast. The indie trio, named for lead singer Bethany Cosentino's beloved California region, has a unique combination of shoegaze rock and '60s throwback harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas. Their debut Crazy for You was a surprise hit for an indie release-reaching the Billboard Top 40. Cosentino talks to Jim and Greg about her own musical roots (Dad performed with 70's rock band War), rock heroes (Stevie Nicks) and personal writing style. She's joined by band mates Bobb Bruno on guitars and Ali Koehler, formerly of The Vivian Girls, on drums for a live performance in the studio.

Go to episode 258
specials

1991

It's hard to believe, but it has now been two decades since 1991, a year Jim and Greg believe to be as influential and significant as 1964, 1976 and other great rock years. 1991's artists, albums and events made way for big changes in the music industry, and the sounds of that year continue to be referenced today. Just look at recent guests Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk, who both released major albums in 1991 and are still filling our playlists in 2011. While Bryan Adams and Garth Brooks topped the charts, they don't tell the true story of this year. For Jim and Greg, 1991 was all about:

  • Nirvana and the birth of grunge
  • My Bloody Valentine and the growth of shoegaze
  • Lollapalooza and the rise of the Alternative Nation
  • N.W.A. and the reign of gangsta rap
  • Massive Attack and the birth of trip-hop
Go to episode 270

Revisiting 1991

1991

Though it seems like just yesterday for many, it's been 25 years since 1991. Along with 1964, '67 and '76, 1991 was a landmark year for music. You can hear its influence everywhere from neo-grunge band Bully to Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. While Bryan Adams and Garth Brooks topped the charts, there are even more musicians that made groundbreaking strides back in '91. For Jim and Greg, 1991 was all about:

  • Nirvana and the birth of grunge
  • My Bloody Valentine and the growth of shoegaze
  • Lollapalooza and the rise of the Alternative Nation
  • N.W.A. and the reign of gangsta rap
  • Massive Attack and the birth of trip-hop
Go to episode 538
classic album dissections
The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Edition)The Velvet Underground & Nico available on iTunes

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico

According to Jim and Greg, few albums are worthier of the Classic Album Dissection treatment than The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed teamed with avant-garde violist/bassist John Cale in the mid-'60s to form the core of the band, joined by guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. The sonic assault of their live performances caught the attention of Andy Warhol. Warhol provided the funding for their debut album in 1966 and created the iconic banana cover art. He also insisted on featuring German chanteuse Nico on several tracks.

The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967 against a backdrop of psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band. Its noisy, stark depictions of junkies and sadomasochism in New York City didn‘t fit well with that San Francisco feeling, and the album didn’t sell. But over the past half century, its reputation has grown to the point that, as Jim and Greg argue, it's become the most influential album in rock history. Each track has launched an entire genre, from the goth rock of "Venus in Furs" to the noise rock of "European Son" to the proto-shoegaze in "Heroin." It's hard to imagine bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones, or Radiohead existing without The Velvet Underground & Nico. On the album's 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg tell the history of the band, give a detailed examination of each of the album's songs, and share their thoughts on its legacy.

Go to episode 597
genre dissections

Shoegaze

Today Jim and Greg dive into "Shoegaze." In the late '80s and early '90s, this sound developed in the U.K. and was typified by lots of guitar, lots of atmosphere and lots of noise. But while the height of Shoegaze only lasted a few years, its influence looms large today. As Jim and Greg explain, the artists of this movement were students of rock history. They looked at the guitar as something more than a traditional blues instrument. Those hunks of wire and wood could act as a sound machine. You can trace a line from bands like The Velvet Underground and Dinosaur Jr. to key Shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride and Slowdive. And their desire to marry rock drive with otherworldly ambience is what carries the genre into the present moment. It's also important to note that while the term“shoegazer”began as derisive-musicians staring at their shoes are no fun to watch-seeing these acts live was really a special, albeit loud, experience.

Go to episode 371

Krautrock

Jim and Greg devote this episode to dissecting the '70s German art-rock movement known as Krautrock. The Krautrock bands themselves, however, preferred the term "kosmische Musik" (cosmic music) to describe their spacey, pulsating freak-outs that combined psychedelia with the electronic innovation of classical composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen. Kraftwerk pioneered the use of electronic instruments to achieve an industrial sound. Neu!, initially an offshoot of Kraftwerk, introduced a hypnotic drumbeat called "motorik" that has been copied by bands for decades. (Check out our 2010 interview with Neu! founder Michael Rother). Jim particularly highlights the inimitable metronomic drumming of Can's Jaki Liebezeit, who died on January 22 at age 78. For Greg, the band Faust was the prime example of the movement's willingness to experiment.

Jim and Greg also trace the incredible influence of Krautrock on music that followed. In the rock world, the German bands have been a touchstone for indie rockers like Stereolab, shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, post-rock bands like Tortoise, and much more. But the influence is perhaps most pronounced in electronic dance music. It's hard to imagine Detroit techno, Eurodisco, or ambient techno existing without these cosmic forerunners.

Go to episode 583
reviews
Fragrant WorldAll Our Cymbals available on iTunes

Yeasayer All Our Cymbals

Jim and Greg review Fragrant World, the third album from Brooklyn band Yeasayer. Yeasayer started gaining buzz in the indie underground shortly after their 2007 debut, All Our Cymbals. Critics praised their inventive merging of shoegaze and world rhythms. Fans couldn't get enough of the hooks. Fragrant World promised to be something a little different: band members said they were inspired by Aaliyah's work with Missy Elliot. Fragrant World would be their take on R&B. Greg says the new album isn‘t as immediately hooky as past efforts, but when it comes to taking R&B to an alien landscape, Yeasayer succeeds big time. It took him a road trip with the record to be won over, but now he says it reminds him of Bowie’s alien soul and funk in the seventies. Jim was a convert on first listen. The hooks are there, he says, but what really gets him is how the band downplays the novelty of their Eastern and African-tinged percussion, folding those drums seamlessly into electronic grooves. Fragrant World gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 352
MBV album art

My Bloody Valentine MBV

We highlighted My Bloody Valentine in our Shoegaze genre dissection a few weeks ago, and after 21 years of scattered promises, it seemed to be a pretty safe bet that a 3rd MBV album would never see the light of day. But then on February 2, 2013, MBV was quietly released on their website. Is it even possible for the band to escape from the long shadow of their legendary sophomore album Loveless? Greg says not quite. He thinks that the first few songs rehash Loveless‘ glory, but don’t meet its standard. The second half shows the band moving into the future. He anxiously awaits that future, but in the meantime, MBV is a Burn It. Jim thinks the band lost momentum during this two decade hiatus. And while it is no Loveless, MBVis much better than he feared it would be. He gives the record a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 376
Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFOUntil in Excess, Imperceptible UFO available on iTunes

The Besnard Lakes Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

Greg counts the 2nd and 3rd releases by The Besnard Lakes (who visited Sound Opinions in 2007) as two of the best of the last decade. How does the Montreal quartet fare on the 4th album? Well, according to Jim, the key words of the record's title Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO are“excess”and“imperceptible.”He is happy to hear more of Olga Goreas‘ singing, but the melodies just aren’t that strong. Jim says Burn It. Greg agrees that this album isn't as strong as its predecessors, but it has its own rewards as well. The Besnard Lakes bring slow, dreamy "shoegaze meets Beach Boys." Greg says go Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 387
Skull WorshipSkull Worship available on iTunes

The Warlocks Skull Worship

Psychedelic rockers The Warlocks have undergone numerous shakeups and setbacks over the years, leaving many to wonder if the band would ever release new music. Yet, like a locomotive charging ever forward (a sound Jim likens to their music), The Warlocks just keep coming back. Jim is excited by the group's newest album, Skull Worship, finding its drones and incessant rhythms utterly hypnotizing. And while he admits the Shoegaze sound doesn't break any new ground, he still thinks nobody is doing it better. Jim says Buy It. Greg is less impressed by the album, feeling that the pace is too slow. He admits there are moments of greatness (mainly towards the beginning of the album), but altogether Skull Worship isn't a complete success. Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 418
Love YesLove Yes available on iTunes

TEEN Love Yes

Alt-rock group TEEN is made up of sisters Katherine, Lizzie and Kristina (Teeny) Lieberson and Boshra AlSaadi. But in 2010, TEEN was a mere home recording project by Teeny. TEEN's third full-length album, Love Yes, introduces them to their widest audience yet. Greg has loved TEEN since the beginning because of what they set out to do, but their execution always fell short. In Love Yes, the band has improved at crafting their quirks into tight pop songs. Still, Greg takes issue with the lack of editing here. The album is full of great ideas, but having four tracks end with too-long horn solos is not one of them. Despite that, this is the band's best album yet. Love Yes is a Try It for Greg. Jim thinks Greg is being stingy and gives kudos to TEEN's ambition. They combine shoegaze, funk and soul in a way that really works. Plus Love Yes lays out a new perspective on love, steering clear of sappiness typical of love songs, while still ringing hopeful. Jim goes so far as to call this record a masterpiece and undoubtedly a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
dijs

Jim

“Vapour Trail”Ride

One release Jim is excited about this fall is a reissue of the debut album by Ride called Nowhere. So he chooses a track from it, "Vapour Trail" to add to the Desert Island Jukebox. Along with My Bloody Valentine, Ride established the groundbreaking shoegaze sound, proving that it is possible to do something new with guitar, bass and drums. And Jim puts Nowhere up there with Nevermind, even if it never received the same kind of acclaim.

Go to episode 249
lists

The Best Songs of 2015: Mixtapes

Before we fully jump into 2016, let's say goodbye to 2015 with the year's best singles.

Go to episode 527
features

Hooked On Sonics: Neil Halstead of Slowdive

Neil Halstead Our latest installment of our Hooked on Sonics series features Neil Halstead – singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the English shoegaze band Slowdive. Slowdive recently reunited and released their first album since 1995. Halstead describes being blown away when he heard the leadoff track from an EP by a shoegaze progenitor: My Bloody Valentine's "You Made Me Realise." Combining Byrds-like harmonies with a sonic assault, the song forever changed his musical life.

Go to episode 608
world tours

New Zealand

The Clean

Lorde is just the biggest name in a long line of important musicians coming out of New Zealand. So this week, Jim and Greg fire up the jet to take the Sound Opinions World Tour to the other side of the world. As a guide, they're joined by Wellington-based critic Nick Bollinger, host of The Sampler on Radio New Zealand and author of several books including the recent memoir Goneville.

They focus on an influential era in kiwi rock emerging in the early 1980s known as the Dunedin Sound that's closely associated with the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun Records. Based around the southern university city Dunedin, the Flying Nun bands drew upon early psychedelia, American garage rock, and The Velvet Underground to create a distinctive jangly guitar-based sound, much of it released on lo-fi 4-track recordings. But while the key bands like The Clean, The Chills, and The Verlaines shared an aesthetic, Nick argues that their musical approaches actually were varied. By the late ‘80s and early ’90s, the Dunedin Sound had fully evolved to incorporate the shoegaze of Bailter Space and even the dance beats of Headless Chickens.

A key part of New Zealand's culture is its indigenous population. Maori, Samoan, and other indigenous groups make up nearly 20% of the population and have had a major impact on the island nation's pop music. Nick traces the history of Maori music from the Hendrix-esque guitar styling of The Human Instinct to the reggae boom of the '70s to the embrace of hip-hop. He also makes recommendations for great contemporary kiwi artists, including singer-songwriter Aldous Harding, power-poppers Kane Strang, electro-soul artist Electric Wire Hustle, and the eclectic producer Lord Echo.

Go to episode 605