The shoegaze sound reigned supreme in England from the late 1980s through the early 1990s as bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, The Boo Radleys, and Chapterhouse, to name just a few, had decent commercial success, some even denting the UK top 40. That phenomenon quickly gave way to Britpop, however, and groups either tweaked their sounds to stay relevant or quickly faded away. In America, though, shoegaze was never very big, clearly playing second fiddle to the grunge scene. As a result, a subculture of sorts began to emerge as Anglophile bands like Black Tambourine, Lilys, The Ropers, Springhouse, Drop Nineteens, and Smashing Orange all made great records and developed devoted followings.
Today, shoegaze (or neo-shoegaze, if you will) is as strong as ever in the US. Heavier sounding bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and A Place To Bury Strangers have had strong commercial and critical success, while indie labels like Loveless and clairecords have remained true to the faith for many years, keeping those fans in-the-know very happy. That latter imprint is responsible for putting out two of the more accomplished American shoegaze records in recent years as a result of working with Tears Run Rings, a collective including Laura Watling, Ed Mazzucco, Tim Morris, and Dwayne Palasek, all formerly of The Autocollants. They’re joined by Matthew Bice, who formed acclaimed indie label Shelflife with Mazzuco.
Since the group’s spread over the West Coast in Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, they record via file sharing. Despite that less than organic approach, it’d be tough to argue with the results. Their 2008 debut Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never was full of engaging melodies, shimmering guitars and wide open hypnotic tones – a stunning update on the heavenly sounds of groups like Slowdive and Kitchens of Distinction.
Distance even avoids the sophomore slump. In fact, the album could almost be viewed as a sequel to Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never. Like its predecessor, the album is bookended by two lush mood-setting instrumentals, “Happiness 3” and “Happiness 4.” “Reunion” is heightened by some very Ride-like melodies and fuzz guitar galore, while “Forgotten” shimmers like a cross between early Slowdive and, strangely enough, Joy Division/New Order (the mesmerizing bass sounds are Peter Hook-inspired). Even the title track’s a magnificent work of art as Tears Run Rings are able to encompass everything endearing about the shoegaze genre.Visit: Tears Run Rings | clairecords
Purchase: Insound | eMusic