Remember that movie Super Size Me? That was the one where Morgan Spurlock ate only food from McDonald’s for a month, during which his body and mind spiraled into grave depths of imbalance and disrepair. Same thing for people who only listen to one kind of music; they’re missing out on shitloads of really interesting experiences available only when we step past out own notions of what we think will make us feel good and open our minds to the possibility that we can find similar gratification from virtually any genre of music, given the chance. All this to say that I listen to way more than just metal. In fact, if I only listened to metal, I’d be bored to tears, not because metal is static or boring in any way, but because without a softer contrast, the heavy will never sound as heavy. Plus, sometimes I simply want to ease back in the saddle and cruise for awhile. Enter singer-songwriter stuff, alt-country, old school hip hop, post-punk, psychedelic rock, shoegaze and dreampop.
People understandably confuse shoegaze and dreampop (or “dream pop,” as people use both) because they largely draw from the same platter of elements: shimmery melodies, smooth multi-layered texturing and lush pop hooks. Dreampop obviously skews way more heavily to pop and in most cases, you wouldn’t be wrong for lumping many dreampop acts under the pop tent. Shoegaze leans more on fuzzy guitars drenched in plenty of echo, reverb and delay, giving the music an ineffable dreaminess. Tempos are long and unhurried but the songs pack the same catchy hooks as dreampop, so the music tends to feel snug and familiar. Consequently, both styles can easily serve as bridge music to other genres – people who like pop, singer-songwriter stuff or ambient/trance music tend to dig shoegaze and dreampop right out of the gates.
In the meantime, here’s a playlist I made of my favorite shoegaze bands. As with any mix, sequencing is pure agony. Do I segregate them by band or opt for something random, like alphabetical order? Of course, you can always just shuffle them in Spotify when you check it out. For me, shoegaze is best enjoyed on long drives, lazy weekend mornings and cooking. Probably not great weightlifting music. Dig it.