Through my throws in the music sea, I’ve heard the genre “shoegazer” tossed around quite a bit but never really understood what kind of music it referred to. I finally decided to get my wikipedia on and here’s what I know.
During the 80’s there was a trilogy of British bands who encouraged a wave of bands with similar behavior and sound (the shoegazers). These preemptive three were The Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins, and My Bloody Valentine. What resulted as the 80’s grew into the 90’s was a handful of groups who made distorted, guitar heavy, difficult to understand indie rock.
The term shoegazer came not from the music but from the behavior exhibited by these artists on stage. The lead singer, who was expected to gyrate, self-mutilate, or at least jump around a lot, would commonly sing with little movement, staring down at the floor or the pedals of their guitar (or…their shoes). The bands most noted with this genre are Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, and Slowdive.
What happened to the shoegazers? After the explosion of groups in the 90’s music critics claimed these motionless art kids were snobs. The bands couldn’t shake the bad reputation and, as it so often happens, the genre split and coiled into other directions.
But, what goes around often comes around, and new waves of shoegaze artists have appeared (see: nu-gaze). It’s a genre that gets thrown around a lot, but some artists who seem to fall into line include: Deerhunter, M83, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Yo La Tengo, and more.