In the early 1990s, the UK brought us something with lots of feedback laden guitar and softspoken vocals, usually from the female side of things. But I don't think the New Music Express did a throughout job in compiling this ten best of. First of all, they give too much credit to Slowdive, which I heard two albums and got bored to death with.
Here's what NME went with.
Slowdive – ‘Just For A Day’ (1991)
The Verve – ‘A Storm In Heaven’ (1993)
The Radio Dept. – ‘Lesser Matters’ (2003)
The Boo Radleys – ‘Everything’s Alright Forever’ (1992)
Ride – ‘Going Blank Again’ (1992)
Ride – ‘Nowhere’ (1990)
My Bloody Valentine – ‘Isn’t Anything’ (1988)
Slowdive – ‘Souvlaki’ (1993)
Spiritualized – ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ (1992)
As a root influence on the movement with Spacemen 3, Jason Pierce was surfing the solar winds long before shoegazing came along. So his first album with Spiritualized, while only distantly connected to the scene, showed all of these home counties wannabes how to study their sneakers in style. Narcotic dream-pop and intergalactic rock drifted across this double disc like celestial bodies waltzing. If Kubrick rocked…
My Bloody Valentine – ‘Loveless’ (1991)
The Catherine Wheel-Ferment (Fontana 1992)
Before they deteriorated into alternative pop metal, Rob Dickinson managed to configure the wall of noise into something listenable and Black Metallic remains the best overall shoegazer song, with gobs of echo, gobs of Husker Du like guitar buzz and Dickinson's vocals buried in the background. Catherine Wheel might have had better selling albums but Ferment remains their best overall. And that's not going to ever change since they broken up after the flop Wishville album.
The Jesus And Mary Chain-Darklands (Warner Brothers 1987)
The Jesus And Mary Chain-Psychocandy (Warner Music UK 1985)
Psychocandy might have been critically acclaimed better but the solemn and subdued second album was easier on the ears.
Lush-Gala (4AD 1990)
Their albums were spotty even on good days but this record compiles their 3 EPs into one nifty overview, with two versions of Thought Patterns included. Lush never seemed to get the credit due to them unlike the Choctau Twins.
My Bloody Valentine-Loveless (Creation/Sire 1991)
My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything (Relativity 1988)
Given a choice between Isn't Everything or Loveless, I chose the latter of the album closer Soon, which is pretty hypnotic before Kevin Sheild's feedback laden guitar rips into place. Loveless didn't kill Shoegaze according to rumor, Nevermind and grunge did and not for the better.
Ride-Going Blank Again (Creation/Sire 1992)
Ride-Smile (Creation/Sire 1991)
Ride-Nowhere (Creation/Sire 1990)
Like Lush, Ride had an album compiled of EPs and B sides (Smile) which is worth seeking out and Nowhere is a fun "ride" so to speak, but Going Blank Again starts out with the 8 Minute Leave them All Behind and then Twisterilla, which managed to sneak into the Power Pop Hits of the 1990s on Rhino. Kids in the midwest didn't buy this, I got mine as a cutout for 3.88 when Camelot was in town and in the mall. Certainly MBV Loveless might have been an influence but there's also a Hawkwind sound too. Ride lost focus on the next album and 1996's Tarantula was more classic rock than shoe gaze and I still like 20 years after the fact. The boys have reunited, like Lush and have a new album in the can.
Blur-Leisure (Food 1991)
Before they became UK working class stiffs with Park Life and then Pavement indee rockers with the self titled album, Leisure found them playing around the showgaze sound with songs like There's No Other Way and She's So High. Blur has disowned this album but I still like their shoegazed songs better than the Pavement influenced Song 2 (not that it's bad, it's quite good but it's the only song radio plays if they do play Blur)
The Dylans (Beggars Banquet 1992)
The Charlatans UK-Some Friendly (Beggars Banquet 1991)
The Darkside-All That Noise (Beggars Banquet 1991)
Between their label mates The Charlatans UK, The Dylans had more of a hypnotic vibe vocalwise, The Charlatans were looking to be the new Rolling Stones which they eventually achieved after the death of Rob Collins their keyboardist. The Charlatans also had a hit with The Only One That I Know, complete with them lifting Jon Lord's keyboard work on Hush. The Dylans had a minor hit with the catchy Godlike. The knock was that perhaps The Dylans were a bit too much in the Madchester sound but to these ears their first album was a nice shoegazer mini classic. Followup album flopped and they were no more. As for The Darkside, All That Noise is really a half assed affair, some good moments, but a lot of the songs are toss off efforts. Melomania released a year later is better including the 9 minute Rise which might be their high point.
Blind Mr. Jones-Stereo Musicale (Cherry Red 1994)
By the time this album came out, Shoegazer music was passe, but give Blind Mr Jones credit for issuing this album 2 years after the fact, but I have no idea who this band was till I found their album in the cutouts for a dollar in 2013. Herb Cohen issued this via Bizarre/Planet in 1994. Out of all the shoegazer bands mentioned, Blind MR. Jones has more in common with Hawkwind than MBV or Jesus And Mary Chain. But nobody knew much about BMJ even in 1994, they also seem to teeter on being a jam band of sorts.
Curve-Doppelganger (Charisma/Anxious 1992)
Curve-Pubic Fruit (Charisma/Anxious 1992)
Curve-Cuckoo (Charisma/Anxious 1993)
They blurred between MBV and Lush but with a more noiser approach. Toni Holliday and Dean Garcia were the main folks behind this band and while New Musical Express have basically ignored Curve's album in favor of Slowdive and The Verve but Doppelganger is a shoegazer classic album all its own with Fait Accompli being the main hit. I tend to think NME missed the boat especially on the Pubic Fruit album which complies the first three Curve EPs plus Fait Accompli. Like Lush's Gala, Public Fruit shows Curve's EPs to be just as entertaining.
Ned's Atomic Dustbin-Godfodder (Columbia 1991)
So as you can see there's a bit of difference of what I think works for Shoegazer albums and the NME although your opinion will vary. But at this point and time, nobody really listens to Shoegazer music all that much. But I still have all these albums around somewhere and do play them from time to time. If and when I come across any more Slowdive albums or the Verve album in question I'll take the time to listen and comment when I do get around finding them. But I tend to think they're a bit overrated, as well as the Boo Radley's (I reviewed Cmon Kids and Giant Steps years ago but didn't think much of them). But I'm sure we'll pick up on this subject in the near future to consider if I was right or wrong on calling these bands overrated. For now, my opinion remains unchanged.