Shoegaze emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s, taking the world by storm before its candle appeared to burn out. And yet, there’s something about the genre’s ethereal soundscapes, distorted wall of sound guitars, and dreamy vocals that just would not lay down. Over the years, shoegaze has become a cult favourite among music fans, with many bands achieving critical acclaim and a dedicated following. Furthermore, modern bands have taken the classic shoegaze sound in brave new directions, breathing life into the genre. In this article, we’ll take a look at 55 of the most innovative, influential, and simply genius shoegaze bands of all time, exploring their unique sounds and contributions to the genre.
This article includes a brief overview of the genre, but for further reading on the characteristics, history, and evolution of shoegaze, check out our accompanying article, What Is Shoegaze Music?
Table of Contents
- Defining Shoegaze: Characteristics of the Genre
- Evolution of Shoegaze: From the 90s to Now
- Notable Subgenres: Blackgaze and Nu-gaze
- The Heavy Shoegaze Movement
- Modern Influence: Notable Modern Bands
- The Underrated Shoegaze Artists Worth Listening To
- Top 55 Shoegaze Bands of All Time
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 1 – 5
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 6 – 10
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 11 – 15
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 16 – 20
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 21 – 25
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 26 – 30
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 31 – 35
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 36 – 40
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 41 – 45
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 46 – 50
- 55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 51 – 55
- Conclusion: The Impact and Legacy of Shoegaze Music
Defining Shoegaze: Characteristics of the Genre
The shoegaze sound fuses dream pop, psychedelic rock, and noise pop, with an emphasis on texture and mood. The genre has often been described as “music to lose yourself in”. It can be simultaneously beautiful and brutal, combining delicate melodies with intense, distorted guitar noise.
One of the defining characteristics of shoegaze is its emphasis on creating a dense wall of sound through the use of effects pedals. Common choices include reverb, delay, chorus, and distortion pedals. The result is a sound that feels like it’s surrounding the listener, creating an immersive, dreamlike experience.
Another key characteristic of shoegaze is the use of hushed, often indistinguishable vocals. Rather than being a focal point, shoegaze vocals are effectively another instrument, blending into the all-encompassing music and contributing to the overall ethereal and abstract nature of the genre.
Finally, shoegaze is epitomised by its exploratory nature. Bands push the boundaries of what is possible with sound, resulting in a genre that is constantly evolving.
Evolution of Shoegaze: From the 90s to Now
The evolution of shoegaze has included several distinct periods. The first wave of shoegaze, often referred to as “classic shoegaze”, took place in the late 80s and early 90s. British bands dominated this period, including My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride. Using guitar effects pedals, they created a dense, layered, and distorted sound, often complemented by breathy vocals.
The second wave of shoegaze, also known as “nu-gaze”, emerged in the early 2000s. Bands like M83, and Asobi Seksu were key players during this period. They took the original shoegaze sound and infused it with elements of electronic music, post-rock, and other genres. This evolution resulted in a more polished and expansive sound.
In the past decade, there has been a third wave of shoegaze, characterised by a return to the genre’s roots. Bands like Nothing, Whirr, and Ringo Deathstarr have sought to recreate the classic shoegaze sound, whilst also incorporating influences from genres like punk and black metal.
Notable Subgenres: Blackgaze and Nu-gaze
Blackgaze is a fusion genre combining elements of black metal and shoegaze. The term was coined to describe the sound of French band Alcest and takes the atmospheric, immersive soundscapes of shoegaze and combines them with the raw intensity and emotion of black metal.
On the other hand, Nu-gaze is a term that describes the wave of bands in the early 2000s that took influence from the original shoegaze bands of the 90s. Nu-gaze bands often incorporate elements of electronic music, resulting in a more polished and expansive sound.
The Heavy Shoegaze Movement
The heavy shoegaze movement takes influence from the distorted sound of classic shoegaze blended with modern post-hardcore and metal. This style has been led by bands like Loathe, Nothing, and Brutus, who have taken the classic shoegaze sound and infused it with influences from punk and metal.
These bands have helped to revitalise the genre, demonstrating that shoegaze is more than just a relic of the 90s. Their intense and immersive music focuses on creating dense, distorted soundscapes.
Modern Influence: Notable Modern Bands
There has been a resurgence in shoegaze in recent years, with several modern bands drawing on the genre’s classic sound. Bands like Slow Crush, DIIV, Beach House, and Ringo Deathstarr have been at the forefront of this resurgence, creating nostalgic yet fresh music.
These bands have helped to bring shoegaze back into the mainstream, introducing a new generation to the genre’s unique sound. Their music is a testament to the enduring appeal of shoegaze and its continued relevance in today’s music landscape.
The Underrated Shoegaze Artists Worth Listening To
While there are many well-known bands within the shoegaze genre, there are also a number of underrated artists that are certainly worth listening to. Bands like Candy Claws, Pinkshinyultrablast, and The Daysleepers have created excellent shoegaze music that often flies under the radar.
While not as well-known, these bands are creating some of the most innovative and exciting music within the genre. Their music is a reminder of the depth and diversity within shoegaze and the exciting directions in which the genre is heading.
Top 55 Shoegaze Bands of All Time
Creating a list of the top 55 shoegaze bands is challenging, given the genre’s rich history and the myriad of bands that have contributed to its development. However, some bands have had a particularly significant impact on the genre, including My Bloody Valentine, who are pioneers of the genre, Slowdive, whose lush soundscapes have become a shoegaze hallmark, and Ride, whose energetic and melodic approach to the genre has earned them a dedicated following.
More recent bands have also made significant contributions to the genre. Bands like Alcest have pushed the envelope by combining shoegaze with elements of black metal to create the blackgaze subgenre. Similarly, bands such as Nothing and Whirr have helped revitalise the genre, drawing on its classic sound while incorporating modern influences.
So without further ado, it’s time to get comfortable, grab your headphones, and prepare to immerse yourself in our pick of 55 of the best shoegaze bands of all time.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 1 – 5
1. My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine is an iconic alternative rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The band is famous for its distinctive sound, blending shoegaze, noise rock, and dream pop elements. Their early releases, including the EP “This Is Your Bloody Valentine” and the album “Isn’t Anything”, were critically acclaimed and helped establish them as a pioneering force in the shoegaze genre. However, their 1991 album “Loveless” cemented their legacy as one of the most influential bands of the era. The album’s dense layers of distorted guitars, ethereal vocals, and intricate production techniques inspired countless musicians in the years that followed.
Despite a lengthy hiatus, My Bloody Valentine has continued to perform and release music, with their most recent album, “m b v”, coming out in 2013.
Slowdive is an English rock band that formed in 1989. Their music helped define the traditional shoegaze sound, with layers of distorted guitars, swirling synths, and hazy vocals. Accordingly, the band commands a place in any discussion about the genre’s highlights.
Slowdive released three albums in the 1990s before disbanding in 1995. However, they reunited in 2014 and have since released two more albums, including a self-titled album in 2017 that received critical acclaim. Slowdive’s music continues to inspire and influence a new generation of musicians, cementing their place in the history of alternative rock.
Ride is a British rock band that formed in Oxford in 1988. The band includes Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence “Loz” Colbert, and Steve Queralt. They were part of the first wave of shoegaze in the late 80s and early 90s, known for using distorted guitars and ethereal vocals. Ride released four albums between 1990 and 1996, including their essential debut album “Nowhere”.
After disbanding in 1996, the members pursued various solo projects but eventually reunited in 2014. They have since released two more albums and continue to tour, showcasing their unique blend of shoegaze and alternative rock.
Lush was an English alternative rock band formed in London in 1987. The band consisted of Miki Berenyi on vocals and guitar, Emma Anderson on vocals and guitar, Phil King on bass, and Chris Acland on drums. Lush’s ethereal sound often emphasised dense layers of guitars and harmonies. The band gained popularity in the early 1990s with their debut album, “Spooky”, and continued to release albums throughout the decade. However, tragedy struck in 1996 when Acland took his own life, leading to the group’s disbandment.
Despite their relatively short career, Lush left a lasting impact on the alternative rock scene and continues to receive praise from fans and musicians alike.
5. Cocteau Twins
Although not strictly a shoegaze band, Cocteau Twins’ lush, dreamy sound and ethereal vocals significantly influenced the genre. The group consisted of vocalist Elizabeth Fraser, guitarist Robin Guthrie, and bassist Simon Raymonde. They were famous for their otherworldly sound, characterised by Fraser’s unique and incomprehensible vocals, Guthrie’s atmospheric guitar work, and Raymonde’s melodic basslines. Their music was heavily influenced by post-punk and new wave, but they also incorporated ambient, gothic rock, and shoegaze elements.
Cocteau Twins released ten studio albums and several EPs and singles, and were highly influential in the alternative music scene of the 1980s and 1990s.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 6 – 10
6. The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Jesus and Mary Chain are a Scottish alternative rock band formed in 1983 by brothers Jim and William Reid. They gained notoriety for their use of distorted guitar sounds and confrontational live performances. Their debut album, 1985’s “Psychocandy”, was a critical and commercial success and a landmark album in the development of alternative rock.
The band continued to release albums throughout the 80s and 90s, experimenting with different styles and incorporating electronic elements into their music. Despite multiple lineup changes and periods of inactivity, The Jesus and Mary Chain remains influential in the alternative rock genre.
7. Catherine Wheel
The Catherine Wheel was a British alternative rock band formed in 1990. They gained popularity in the early 1990s with their blend of shoegaze and heavy rock music, releasing six studio albums and several EPs before disbanding in 2000. Their most successful album was 1993’s “Chrome”, which included the hit single “Crank”.
The Catherine Wheel’s music featured intricate guitar work, atmospheric soundscapes, and emotionally charged lyrics.
Swervedriver is an English alternative rock band formed in Oxford in 1989. They are famous for their blend of shoegaze and psychedelic rock, with heavy use of distortion and driving rhythms. The band’s early releases, including their incredible debut album “Raise”, established them as a key player in the shoegaze scene. Swervedriver’s later albums, such as “Mezcal Head” and “Ejector Seat Reservation”, continued to showcase their unique sound and earned them a dedicated fanbase.
After disbanding in 1998, Swervedriver reunited in 2008 and have since released several more albums, including “Future Ruins” in 2019.
Chapterhouse was an English shoegaze band consisting of Andrew Sherriff and Stephen Patman on guitars and vocals, Russell Barrett on bass, Simon Rowe on guitar, and Ashley Bates on drums. They released two studio albums, “Whirlpool” (1991) and “Blood Music” (1993), both of which received plaudits, helping establish the band as a prominent figure in the shoegaze scene.
The band disbanded in 1994 but their influence on the shoegaze genre continues to be felt today.
Alcest is a French blackgaze band formed in 2000 by multi-instrumentalist Neige. The band’s sound is a blend of black metal and shoegaze, featuring atmospheric and haunting melodies, heavy distortion, and blast beats. Alcest’s music often explores themes of nature, dreams, and spirituality, with lyrics sung in French and improvisational wordless utterances designed to convey emotion. The band has released six full-length albums, including their outstanding 2016 release “Kodama”, which draws inspiration from Japanese folklore and features a more organic sound than their previous works. Alcest has become a highly influential band in the blackgaze subgenre, inspiring numerous other artists to blend black metal with shoegaze and post-rock elements.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 11 – 15
11. The Verve
The Verve were a British rock band formed in Wigan, England in 1989. The band consisted of Richard Ashcroft on vocals, Nick McCabe on guitar, Simon Jones on bass, and Peter Salisbury on drums. Their third album, “Urban Hymns”, included the hit single “Bitter Sweet Symphony” and achieved worldwide success. The band’s sound blended elements of psychedelic rock, shoegaze, and Britpop.
Despite their success, the band experienced internal tensions and disbanded in 1999. They reunited briefly in 2007 before separating again. The Verve remains a highly influential band in the Britpop and alternative rock genres.
Curve was a British alternative rock band formed in 1990. The band consisted of Toni Halliday (vocals, guitar) and Dean Garcia (bass, drums, guitar). They gained popularity in the early 90s with their debut album “Doppelgänger”, which featured the hit single “Fait Accompli”. Curve’s music was notable for Halliday’s vocal performances and Garcia’s heavy, distorted basslines. They were often associated with the shoegaze and dream pop genres but also incorporated industrial and electronic music elements into their sound.
Despite their critical acclaim and loyal fanbase, Curve disbanded in 2005 after releasing five albums.
13. Pale Saints
Pale Saints was a British alternative rock band that emerged in the late 1980s and gained recognition in the early 1990s for their blend of shoegaze and dream pop. They released three albums between 1990 and 1994, including their debut, “The Comforts of Madness”, widely regarded as a genre classic. Despite their relatively short career, Pale Saints left a lasting impact on the alternative music scene and continues to be influential today.
While less well-known than some other bands on this list, Moose’s music is a unique blend of shoegaze and indie pop. The band included Russell Yates (vocals, guitar), Kevin McKillop (guitar), Damien Warburton (drums), and Jeremy Tishler (bass). They released their debut EP, “Suzanne,” in 1990, following it up with several albums, including “Reprise” and “High Ball Me!”.
Moose disbanded in 1995, but their influence on the indie rock scene remains.
Medicine is an American alternative rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1990. The band is known for its unique blend of noise rock, shoegaze, and dream pop influences, creating a sound that was both experimental and accessible. Led by guitarist and vocalist Brad Laner, Medicine released four studio albums between 1992 and 1999, with their self-titled debut album receiving praise for its innovative use of guitar effects and unconventional song structures.
Despite undergoing several lineup changes over the years, Medicine continued to push the boundaries of alternative rock and left a lasting impact on the genre.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 16 – 20
16. The Telescopes
The Telescopes are an English psychedelic rock band formed in 1987. They are known for their experimental and noisy sound, incorporating shoegaze, noise rock, and space rock elements. The band has released several albums and EPs over the years, including their excellent debut album “Taste” in 1989.
The Telescopes have undergone several lineup changes throughout their career, with frontman Stephen Lawrie being the only consistent member. Despite not achieving mainstream success, the band has developed a cult following and continues to tour and release new music.
17. Kitchens of Distinction
Kitchens of Distinction was a British alternative rock band who rose to prominence for their early releases, including “Love Is Hell” and “The Death of Cool”. Their 1991 album “Strange Free World” was a critical and commercial success, featuring the hit single “Drive That Fast”. However, the band struggled to maintain their momentum in the following years and disbanded in 1996.
Despite their relatively short career, Kitchens of Distinction are still remembered as one of the most innovative and influential bands of the 1990s alternative scene.
M83 is a French electronic music band formed in 2001 by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. The band’s name is inspired by the spiral galaxy Messier 83. M83’s music features a cinematic quality that often incorporates elements of shoegaze and ambient music. Their breakthrough album, 2011’s “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, features the massive hit single “Midnight City” and earned praise for its expansive sound and emotional depth. M83 has since released several more albums, including “Junk” in 2016, and continues to tour and perform worldwide.
19. The House of Love
The House of Love sculpted a melodic sound with post-punk, shoegaze, and indie rock elements. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1988, established them as one of the leading bands of the UK’s indie scene. The House of Love underwent several lineup changes throughout their career, but their distinctive sound and songwriting style remained consistent.
They have released several albums and singles over the years, and their influence can be heard in the work of many contemporary indie bands.
20. Sweet Trip
Sweet Trip was an American electronic band formed in San Francisco in 1995. Their music featured dreamy textures, intricate melodies, and glitchy beats, blending elements of shoegaze, IDM, and ambient music. They gained critical acclaim with their 2003 album “Velocity : Design : Comfort”, often cited as an influential work in the genre of glitch-pop.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 21 – 25
21. The Lilys
The Lilys are an American indie rock band formed in Washington, D.C., in 1988 by Kurt Heasley. The band’s sound has evolved over the years, ranging from shoegaze and dream pop to more straightforward rock and roll. They have released several albums, including “In the Presence of Nothing” and “Better Can’t Make Your Life Better”. In the face of numerous lineup changes, Heasley has remained the driving force behind the band.
22. Secret Shine
Secret Shine is a shoegaze band from Bristol, England, formed in 1990. The band’s sound is characterised by dreamy guitar textures, ethereal vocals, and heavy reverb and delay effects. Secret Shine released several EPs and albums throughout the 1990s, including their critically acclaimed debut album, “Untouched”. After disbanding in 1996, the band reformed in 2004 and continues to release new music and perform live shows.
23. The Swirlies
The Swirlies are an American indie rock band formed in 1990. Their sound utilises a mix of shoegaze and noisy punk elements, heavily relying on guitar effects and distortion. The band has released several albums and EPs, including “Blonder Tongue Audio Baton” and “They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons”.
24. The Brian Jonestown Massacre
The Brian Jonestown Massacre are an American psychedelic rock band led by frontman Anton Newcombe. They’ve released over 20 albums and are famous for its experimental sound, blending psychedelic rock, folk, and shoegaze elements. They gained notoriety in the late 1990s for their tumultuous live shows and public feuds with other bands, which were documented in the 2004 film “Dig!”. Despite their controversial reputation, the Brian Jonestown Massacre remains a cult favourite among alternative and experimental music fans.
25. Silversun Pickups
Forming in California in 2000, Silversun Pickups’ music features heavy guitar riffs, dreamy vocals, and a mix of electronic and organic sounds. Their debut album, “Carnavas”, gained poplarity for the band, with lead single “Lazy Eye” proving a hit. They’ve since released several more albums, including “Swoon” and “Better Nature”, and have continued to tour and perform around the world. The band’s unique sound and dynamic live performances have seen them earn a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 26 – 30
26. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are a New York indie rock band with catchy melodies, fuzzy guitar riffs, and dreamy vocals. The band has released four studio albums, receiving praise for their ability to blend 80s and 90s indie rock influences with a modern sound. They have also gained a reputation for their energetic live performances.
27. Drop Nineteens
Drop Nineteens was an American alternative rock band formed in Boston in 1991. They were known for their distinct shoegaze sound, blending punk rock and dream pop elements. The band’s debut album, 1992’s “Delaware”, set them on their way to becoming a prominent band in the shoegaze scene. Despite disbanding in 1995, their influence on the genre, and alternative rock in general, can still be heard today.
Deafheaven is an American band whose music combines black metal, shoegaze, and post-rock elements, creating a unique and atmospheric sound. Since the release of “Roads to Judah”, their lauded debut album, They’ve issued several more seminal blackgaze albums. Standout offerings include “Sunbather” and “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”. The band moved away from blackgaze to a more pure shoegaze sound on their most recent release, 2021’s “Infinite Granite”. Nonetheless, Deafheaven’s awe-inspiring body of work has cemented its reputation as one of modern metal’s most innovative and exciting bands.
29. Asobi Seksu
Asobi Seksu was a New York shoegaze and dream pop band whose name translates to “playful sex” in Japanese, reflecting their playful and experimental approach to music. The band released four studio albums and gained a following for their energetic live performances before going on indefinite hiatus in 2013. Their music continues to influence and inspire fans of dream pop and shoegaze.
30. The Raveonettes
The Raveonettes are a Danish indie rock duo consisting of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo. They are known for their distinctive sound, which blends elements of garage rock, shoegaze, and 1960s girl group pop. The band has released several outstanding albums since their formation in 2001, including “Chain Gang of Love” and “Pretty in Black”. The Raveonettes’ music often explores themes of love, loss, and nostalgia, and their live performances are known for their high energy and dynamic stage presence.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 31 – 35
31. Slow Crush
Belgium’s Slow Crush blend shoegaze’s textured guitars and haunting vocals with the heavy, driving rhythms of modern metal. They have released two EPs and two full-length albums, showcasing their powerful emotional impact and dynamic soundscapes along the way. Slow Crush has toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, building a dedicated following with their intense live shows and cathartic performances.
32. The Radio Dept.
The Radio Dept. are a Swedish indie pop band formed in 1995. Their music displays influences from shoegaze and post-punk, and they have released a slew of critically acclaimed albums, including “Pet Grief” and “Clinging to a Scheme”. With their introspective lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes, they’ve built a considerable and dedicated following.
33. The High Violets
Portland, Oregon’s The High Violets peddle a traditional shoegaze sound with dreamy vocals and wall-of-sound guitars. The band has released several albums and EPs, including 2016’s excellent “Heroes and Halos”. They’ve received praise for their ability to create lush and immersive sonic landscapes that draw listeners into their world.
34. Ringo Deathstarr
Ringo Deathstarr hails from Austin, Texas and has a shoegaze sound heavily influenced by the genre’s originators, including My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. They’ve released several albums and EPs, including “Colour Trip” and “Pure Mood”, and have toured extensively in the US and Europe. Ringo Deathstarr continues to be a prominent figure in the shoegaze revival movement.
35. The Meeting Places
Los Angeles’ The Meeting Places have released three albums of shoegaze-inspired melodies that are notable for their intricate layered guitar arrangements. A regular on the touring circuit, The Meeting Places’ music has been featured in films, television shows, and commercials.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 36 – 40
Brutus is a Belgian post-hardcore/shoegaze band formed in 2013. The trio consists of Stefanie Mannaerts on drums and vocals, Stijn Vanhoegaerden on guitar, and Peter Mulders on bass. Their sound features a blend of heavy, distorted guitar riffs, pounding drums, and Mannaerts’ powerful yet emotive vocals. They have released four albums to critical acclaim and have gained a reputation for their intense live performances.
Tamaryn is a San Francisco-based dream pop/shoegaze band led by New Zealand-born singer Tamaryn and her collaborator, guitarist Rex John Shelverton. They operate in lush vocals, reverb-drenched guitars, and atmospheric synths. Tamaryn’s music has been praised for its dense soundscapes and introspective lyrics, drawing comparisons to Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie and the Banshees. They have released four studio albums to critical acclaim, including their most recent album, “Dreaming the Dark”, in 2019.
38. The Warlocks
Forming in Los Angeles in 1999, The Warlocks are an American rock band who takes influence from 1960s psychedelic rock and shoegaze, with droning guitars, reverb-drenched vocals, and hypnotic rhythms. The band has released several critically acclaimed albums, including “Phoenix” and “Surgery”. They are known for their intense live performances and have toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.
39. Film School
Film School’s atmospheric, shoegaze-inspired guitar work offers introspective lyrics and a strong focus on melodies. They have released a number of well-received studio albums, including their excellent self-titled debut album and 2007’s “Hideout’. The band’s lineup has changed over the years, but founding member Greg Bertens remains at the helm as the lead vocalist and songwriter.
40. The Casket Girls
Sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene, also known as The Casket Girls, were discovered and signed by Ryan Graveface of Graveface Records. Their pop music output features haunting vocals, dreamy synths, and dark lyrics inspired by their childhood experiences growing up in a cult.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 41 – 45
41. The Fauns
The Fauns sound compares to that of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, with swirling guitars and pulsating rhythms. They have released two full-length albums, including their standout self-titled debut in 2009. The Fauns have gained a dedicated following within the shoegaze and dream pop communities.
42. The Horrors
Southend-on-Sea’s The Horrors have released five studio albums, with their sound ranging from garage rock to post-punk revival. The band offer up energetic live performances and have an admirable ability to evolve their sound with each album. They have also received nominations for several awards, including the Mercury Prize and the NME Awards.
43. The Twilight Sad
The Twilight Sad are a Scottish post-punk band famous for the distinctive vocals of lead singer James Graham and the atmospheric, often dark, soundscapes created by the band’s use of guitar effects and synthesisers. They’ve released five studio albums, with their 2007 debut album, “Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters”, considered a classic of the genre. The band has toured extensively around the world and has built a dedicated fanbase for their intense and emotionally charged live performances.
44. Wild Nothing
Wild Nothing’s nostalgic sound draws inspiration from 1980s post-punk and new wave, with shimmering guitars, ethereal synths, and the soft vocals of frontman Jack Tatu. The Virginia band received praise for their debut album “Gemini”, following it up with several more albums, including “Nocturne” and “Indigo”. Wild Nothing’s music transports listeners to a hazy, romanticised version of the past while still feeling fresh and contemporary.
45. Beach House
Beach House is a dream pop duo formed in Baltimore, Maryland in 2004. The band consists of vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally. The pair have released seven studio albums, including their critically acclaimed 2010 album “Teen Dream”, and have been credited with helping to popularise the dream pop genre.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 46 – 50
DIIV is an American indie rock band from Brooklyn consisting of Zachary Cole Smith (vocals, guitar), Andrew Bailey (guitar), Colin Caulfield (bass), and Ben Newman (drums). To date, they’ve released three studio albums to critical acclaim; “Oshin” (2012), “Is the Is Are” (2016), and “Deceiver” (2019). Despite some controversy surrounding Smith’s personal life, DIIV remains a respected and influential force in the indie rock scene.
47. Craft Spells
Craft Spells is an American indie rock band specialising in lo-fi pop melodies with a touch of 80s new wave influences. Their debut album “Idle Labor” was released in 2011, followed by “Gallery” in 2012 and “Nausea” in 2014. Despite lineup changes, Justin Vallesteros has led Craft Spells since its inception, producing music that has earned praise for its nostalgic and introspective qualities.
48. No Joy
Canadians Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd formed shoegaze band No Joy in 2009. Their sound features layers of distorted guitar and dreamy vocals, drawing influences from 90s shoegaze and noise rock. No Joy’s live shows are known for their immersive and hypnotic experience, making them a must-see for fans of shoegaze and dream pop.
Whirr offers a traditional shoegaze sound that harks back to Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, with distorted guitars, dreamy vocals, and heavy use of reverb and delay effects. The band has released several EPs and full-length albums, including “Pipe Dreams” and “Sway”, receiving praise along the way for their ability to create a dense and immersive sonic atmosphere.
Nothing is a rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 2010. Their music features a blend of shoegaze, grunge, and post-punk influences, heavily emphasising distorted guitars and reverb-drenched vocals. The band has released several critically acclaimed albums, including “Guilty of Everything” and “Dance on the Blacktop”, and has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe. Despite lineup changes and personal struggles, Nothing continues to make music that resonates with alternative rock fans.
55 Best Shoegaze Bands of All Time: 51 – 55
51. Pity Sex
Pity Sex was an American indie rock band from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The band’s sound blended shoegaze, emo, and indie rock elements, with distorted guitars, ethereal vocals, and introspective lyrics. They released two full-length albums, “Feast of Love” and “White Hot Moon”, before disbanding in 2016.
Pity Sex was known for their dynamic live performances and influence on the emo revival movement of the early 2010s.
52. Holy Fawn
Holy Fawn is a four-piece experimental rock band famous for their unique blend of shoegaze, post-rock, and metal, creating a sound that is haunting and heavy. The band’s debut album, “Death Spells”, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim, earning praise for its dynamic instrumentation and emotional depth. Holy Fawn’s live performances are famous for their immersive quality, often featuring elaborate light shows and projections that enhance the atmospheric nature of their music. With their distinct sound and captivating live performances, Holy Fawn has quickly become a rising force in the experimental rock scene.
Pinkshinyultrablast is a Russian shoegaze band whose music offers layers of distorted and jangly guitars, moving vocals, and electronic textures. They’ve released three full-length albums and several EPs, gaining critical acclaim for their unique blend of shoegaze, dream pop, and electronic music. Some describe Pinkshinyultrablast’s sound as ethereal, otherworldly, and dreamlike.
54. The Depreciation Guild
The Depreciation Guild were an American shoegaze band famous for using 8-bit sounds alongside traditional shoegaze instrumentation, creating a unique sound that blended nostalgia with modernity. The band released two full-length albums, “In Her Gentle Jaws” and “Spirit Youth”, before disbanding in 2010. Despite their relatively short career, The Depreciation Guild left a lasting impact on the shoegaze genre and continue to receive praise from fans and critics alike.
55. The Daysleepers
The Daysleepers are a shoegaze/dream pop band from Buffalo, New York. Formed in 2004, the band has released two full-length albums and several EPs, earning critical acclaim for their atmospheric soundscapes and ethereal vocals. Their music draws inspiration from classic shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive and more contemporary acts like Beach House and Wild Nothing. The Daysleepers have gained a dedicated following among fans of the genre and continue to create immersive music that transports listeners to another world.
Conclusion: The Impact and Legacy of Shoegaze Music
With its dense, distorted soundscapes and ethereal vocals, Shoegaze has left a lasting legacy on the music landscape. Although the genre only had a short-lived initial prominence, its impact has lasted, influencing a wide range of artists and contributing to the development of several sub-genres.
The enduring appeal of shoegaze is evident in its recent resurgence, with a new generation of bands drawing on its classic sound. The genre’s exploratory nature, combined with its unique sound, ensures that it will continue to evolve and inspire artists for years to come.
Shoegaze offers a unique listening experience that’s unlike any other genre. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the genre, there’s never been a better time to dive into the world of shoegaze.