As a musician, shoegazing was my first love. Back when grunge began to infiltrate the airwaves, a new music scene was emerging in England. Much of this sound blended the haunting beauty of ‘80s goth with the distorted six-string experiments of ‘90s indie rock. But shoegazing soon evolved to take on many different styles.
The term “shoegazing” was coined because guitarists of the genre have a penchant for hoarding effects pedals and spending much of their performances staring downward as they stomp on them. My friends Mike, Lisa, Mark and I fell in love with this sound and started our own inspired band, Ozean (that’s us in the above photo). So this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share my Pandora mixtape of Shoegazing Love Songs.
It was My Bloody Valentine’s 1990 EP Glider that first taught me how electric guitars could be used to build gossamer, sonic cathedrals of beautiful noise. But the more I listened to bands like RIDE, Pale Saints and Swervedriver, I discovered something beneath the blissed-out layers of ethereal guitar wash – these bands wrote some incredible love songs.
Admittedly, this isn’t my first shoegazing themed mixtape. Back when a girlfriend told me she loved Cocteau Twins, I loaded her up a TDK 90 cassette with Chapterhouse, Lush, Xmal Deutschland and the more amorous songs from This Mortal Coil. And because my favorite shoegazers were just as skilled at crafting songs of heartbreak, I recorded my fair share of break-up themed tapes as well. After getting dumped my freshman year of college, my ex received a parting gift: a collection of songs by Slowdive, Curve, The Boo Radleys, Adorable and The Telescopes that I carefully curated to passive-aggressively convey what my bleeding heart (i.e. bruised ego) felt like. Yes, I was that guy. And while my communication skills have come a long way, I still love listening to those dreamy old songs of dramatic infatuation and loveless wallowing. Here’s looking at shoe, kids!