“Just Like Honey” — The Jesus and Mary Chain
The most melodic and alt-rock of the three strictly shoegaze tracks here, “Just Like Honey” combines echoing vocals and harmonies, heavy tambourine and Sonic Youth-esque guitar to great success. If you like the Cure or the Smiths, you’ll probably dig this Scottish group.
“Sometimes” — My Bloody Valentine
What My Bloody Valentine did with its 1991 album, Loveless, had never been done before, and nothing like it has been done since. There’s a reason the band is often called the pioneer of shoegaze: The Irish musicians made pure, mad noise like no one else. Loveless is a spectacular album overall, but the dizzying wall of sound on “Sometimes” is taken to another level with the melodic keyboard piercing the guitar’s drone. If a song could lift you up and take you to space, this would be it.
“Souvlaki Space Station” — Slowdive
As often as My Bloody Valentine is credited with catalyzing the shoegaze movement, Slowdive is credited with bringing it as far as it could go with its 1993 album, Souvlaki. The title track from the album, “Souvlaki Space Station,” speaks best to the band members’ abilities to come together as four ordinary people and make something much bigger than any of them could alone. Lyrics aren’t the point here at all — it’s all about the layers and layers of guitar. Watch out for the drum feature around the five-minute mark: It’ll show you how musically tight Slowdive can be.
“Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops” — Cocteau Twins
Dream pop and shoegaze overlap beautifully in this song by the Scottish three-piece, with Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals soaring over drum machine backing and shivering, clean guitar, and some synth bits thrown in for good measure. Like “Souvlaki Space Station,” don’t come to this track expecting to make any sense of (or, really, even be able to decipher) the lyrics: It’s more about the rhythm of Fraser’s voice and the way it blends with but simultaneously overrides every note floating around her. If you watched “Twin Peaks” and really dug the soundtrack, you could probably get down with Cocteau Twins.
“On the Sea” — Beach House
Gentle, beautiful and gliding, “On the Sea” manages to marry dream pop’s atmospheric instrumentals with catchy melodies and wise, wise lyrics (“Your heart is full, and now it’s spilling”) that mean more with each listen. As a genre, shoegaze might give you a wall of sound, but dream-pop duo Beach House gives you a cocoon of it — beautiful and soft — to crawl into and just listen to for a moment. It’s like you’re driving in a long, dark tunnel and, suddenly, the world opens up before you — a world of shimmering guitar, gentle organ and Victoria Legrand’s grounding vocals tying it all together.
Contact Tyler Allen at [email protected].