The Null Device

The Grauniad article that celebrates itself

In today's Grauniad, Jude Rogers looks at the shoegazer revival:
Ulrich Schnauss, the 29-year-old DJ whose dreamy second album Goodbye came out in June, thinks this escapism is vital to shoegazing's appeal. He comes from the north German outpost of Kiel, a dull town that he saw as the equivalent of Reading, home to Halstead's Slowdive. "Too much music these days is about how bad these towns are, about everyday life, and all the dull details. Shoegazing is a way out of that - there's melancholy in it, but lots of heaven there too." He thinks people connect with dreamy music more in times of world crisis, and points out how psychedelic music has flourished during the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. "It's music that offers a much more profound way of trying to cope with a bad world, isn't it? Offering hope rather than breaking your guitar and shouting 'fuck you!'"
Still, images like these won't help change the minds of detractors. It doesn't help that Alan McGee, the man who signed Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive to Creation, is its most vehement critic. "Bloody nonsense. My Bloody Valentine were my comedy band. Ride were different - they were a rock band, really, a fantastic rock band - but My Bloody Valentine were a joke, my way of seeing how far I could push hype." Although he said Shields was a genius in the Guardian in 2004, he now says, unconvincingly, that the revival is just people still buying his lies.
It's interesting that the two genres of independent music antithetical to the mainstream currently undergoing revivals—indiepop (as per an earlier article by Rogers) and shoegazer— are largely separate worlds. Having lived in London for most of the past 3 years and attended both shoegazer nights (Club AC30, Sonic Cathedral) and indiepop nights (How Does It Feel To Be Loved (which, incidentally, has a "no shoegazer" policy on its music) and Spiral Scratch) nights, I've noticed that very few of the people who go to one kind of night go to the other.

There are 4 comments on "The Grauniad article that celebrates itself":

Posted by: Peter Sat Jul 28 01:22:03 2007

Haha. Funny how if you're not part of it all, it's all just music. Shoegaze, schmindy, it's all got its drawbacks, but I like the new Ulrich album a lot, so whatever. Alan McGee's just a boring old fart.

And "second album"? I wonder which of Ulrich's first two albums he's not aware of?

Posted by: acb Sat Jul 28 11:01:12 2007

Indeed, everything has its drawbacks. And you're right about McGee. Though I can believe that he signed MBV as a joke (which, of course, they took seriously).

Jude Rogers is a she, btw. (She's also involved in Smoke London with ex-Sarah Records organiser Matt Haynes.)

Posted by: gjw Mon Jul 30 02:13:44 2007

Well, MBV were clearly a very expensive joke to sign, weren't they? "Indiepop" and "Shoegazer" are always linked in my mind, because they were so closely linked back in the music scene in Adelaide; the sort of people who liked Defamed and the Mammals of Consequence also liked Sweet William and The Mandelbrot Set. And the stuff was played back-to-back on 3D Radio. Probably just an artifact of having a small scene, people didn't have room to discriminate.

Posted by: Greg Mon Jul 30 10:54:32 2007

I tend to take the term 'shoegazer' literally - meaning rather than a genre of music, it's an approach to playing it live. As for MBV, I was never a huge fan, but even so in my opinion they had an original sound which was influential and is still instantly recognizable at a time when most of their peers have been forgotten. If their former manager is calling them a joke, I would suspect personal or financial disagreements. As for jokes in music, innovative acts often disguise their early efforts as humour. They need to because the music industry punishes originality. They're able to drop the joke when the genre they invent gets popular enough. The punk and hiphop scenes went through this process.