Obligatory Year-In-Retrospective Writeup
Everyone’s got to do one. I am not everyone but I am going to do one anyway. There are two ways of going about putting together a retrospective:
1, Make a lot of lists
2. Do a recap of all major events – like a neutron-star newsfeed
But then I am not a pro-blogger, I don’t necessarily keep up with news or new releases unless it is something I know I like, or expect to like or something that has been recommended to me by someone who knows what I like. See it’s all about what I like so no lists or news, just the highlights of this year in shoegaze. For me.
NB: The real reason I’m not doing lists or news is because I am too uncool to keep up well enough to form an opinion
In this edition – shoutouts to my favourite albums of the year. Disclaimer: This is not a list. I just happen to like a few albums from this year a lot. A lot a LOT. In no particular order:
Soundpool – Mirrors In Your Eyes
You’ve already seen me compose an ode to this album on here and with good reason. I love it. Soundpool sound better than ever and they have really, really come into their own here. They’ve managed to finally, finely sculpt their very own discogaze genre into a marvellous glittery, slightly blurry Studio 54 dance floor and it is marvellous. I am as enraptured with ‘Makes No Sense’ now as I was when I first heard it. Splendid.
Me You Us Them – Post-Data
Thanks to my comrade-in-arms Talha for forcing me to listen to them. You know how Kanye-fever appears to have gripped the world? Indie kids everywhere can’t tear their ears away from his album. Everyone around me – because I am surrounded by indie kids – is stumbling around in a strange Kanye trance mumbling his lyrics under their breath unable to speak of anything else. That album came out last month, did it not? Post-Data was out in April, I think, and it did the same thing to me and is STILL carrying on. I cannot get over the professionalism in conjunction with the fact that this is a debut. Every song is flawless and every song is different – the segueways and contrasts are perfect and the most jaw dropping bit is the fact that the unconventional variety (by shoegaze, or even indie rock standards – towards which this record really appears to lean) doesn’t appear to injure any of the tracks in any way. It’s even got meaningful lyrics – specifically on the unintentionally anthemic ‘Drugs’. Though it keeps changing, I think I’ve settled on ‘Loving Like Lawyers’ as my favourite track. I simply cannot say enough good things about this album and the reason I’m going on about it is because Talha’s the one who reviewed it (as he should have) (lucky thing!)
Butterfly Explosion – Lost Trails
I was a super mega excited worm about this album – having only heard ‘Chemistry’ off a shoegaze compilation and downloaded their EP I’d already classified them as one of those ‘These Guys Cannot Fail’ bands. A dangerous thing to do, but it has served me well in the past. Lost Trails did not disappoint and I maintain Butterfly Explosion are one of the most unfairly ignored (relatively speaking) bands even within gazer circles. Maybe it’s because they’re so good everyone takes their excellence for granted. Maybe it’s because they don’t appear to socialise in shoegaze circles though I do know they have an association with Soundpool up there. Whatever the case, the reason I like them so much is because they make songs that are strong – and, like caffeine, I like shoegaze to be strong without being bitter or harsh. And Butterfly Explosion nail it. They’re like the custom blend of coffee that cuts through the wet foam of expertly steamed milk when it’s placed before you in its ceramic mug so that neither overpowers the other and you’ve got a delicate, yet uniquely flavoured cup of ground-bean extract. I’ve become a bit of a caffeine fiend lately – expect analogies!
A shoutout also goes to my homies Highspire who delighted me by a) continuing to exist and b) releasing an album out of the blue (heh, a pun! If you have the album, you’ve figured it out). Aquatic is nothing like Your Everything lacking its predecessors pop sensibilities and well and truly living up to its name. Clearly, Highspire lean towards the sink side of the float/sink shoegaze spectrum. It was inspired by The Cove and is loaded with secrets like easter eggs – my favourite being the little note in the liner that reveals “no drum hardware was used in the making of this record” – whaaaaat.
There are other notables as well but I would rather not just randomly list them without providing a bit of a story for each. Besides, I’m hiding in my room from a forty degree day and must make myself look less like melted wax prior to heading out the door to legitimise New Year celebrations by not being home for it. New Year celebrations are always amusing – so much celebration for one motion of one hand of a clock. Humans are bizarre. Have a happy 2011!