There is a good reason why the shoegaze genre is making a healthy return to the cultural lexicon in 2015 and that reason is because it was always futuristic music made by weird alien humans who allowed themselves to be heavily emotional without all of the arrogance of angst. The beauty of the genre was the way it meshed the organic and the mechanical, giving the music the space to be consumed by atmosphere and mood and in the process making it about the journey as opposed to the traditional “song” cycle that other guitar rock bands indulged. It’s safe to say that it was misunderstood and ahead of its time when it started to arrive in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the proof of its influence and longevity being just how many different and diverse artists claimed its genre tag post Loveless.
As is the case with all genre specific music there are certain aesthetics that are distinctly built into the overall execution that no band, no matter how original (post loveless) can escape. The influence of shoegaze has helped metal bands sound less traditional, electronica artists sound more human and psychedelic rock bands more textured. Any of the “post” genres all owe their crescendo 101’s to the glide and swoon of a Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher guitar attack. Whenever you hear a human bury a distant emotionally emotionless vocal line under the thick torture of a warm fuzzed guitar, you have a lot of artistic debt to not just My Bloody Valentine but all of the bands who helped push the genre into existence 26 plus years ago.
Seeing the word “shoegaze” or having something sold to me as “shoegaze” is both an exciting and frustrating thing. It is a dilemma because a big part of my record collection is made up of bands within this genre from both a pioneering level and of course those that came after. It is a genre that fits me well and for years just hearing a Shields / Butcher inspired guitar or vocal line could hypnotise me for hours. The dilemma comes in because a lot of the times I find myself listening to the newer shoegaze artists pondering that I should like it but for some reason I just don’t.
In my mind, the genre has gone into newer and more exciting levels both on a mainstream and underground level. Although some people may disagree with me I always felt that the evolution of shoegaze was hidden deep inside a band like Deftones who in 2000 brought the idea of the genre to a whole new arena of influence with their masterpiece “White Pony.” With hindsight I felt they along with a handful of other more adventurous metal bands (ISIS, Neurosis, YOB etc etc) infused shoegaze into an even more futuristic playing field focusing on the aggressive nature of what My Bloody Valentine could sometimes produce. Similarly I felt that “Saturdays = Youth” by M83 did the same thing in the way it focused on the more beautiful and electronica elements. Either way, it was a genre aesthetic that has followed me around and one that I adore.
In 2015 a band like Forevr are incredibly important to the evolution of the shoegaze genre. Much like Tame Impala did with psychedelic rock, Forevr lean heavily on the established structure of shoegaze but it is their sincerity and vision that keep them from being simple nostalgia fiends. It is always important to be sincere when dabbling in such a sacred sound because sincerity is the key to effective communication. Despite being experimental in nature, there are pop skills buried deep inside Forevr’s music and it sounds beautiful enough to swim rather effortlessly to a more mainstream JJJ audience. That is not to say the band is rooted in formula, if anything Forevr will be one of those rare bands whose weirdness will match their ambition resulting in bigger things in terms of the domination of radio waves. They are a bridge, a gateway drug and a vital sounding band not just for Brisbane or Australia but for the world.
Over the course of four songs we get merely a glimpse of what is possible. Some may argue that Black Ryder has already done a better job at this but what excites me about Forevr is the chemistry of Donovan and Sam. Having sampled and reviewed their previous musical outfits it sounds as if for the first time both parties are reaching the vision they’ve always had for their music. No matter the genre, that is always something to celebrate. For all of the sonic beauty on display the band’s cassette tape demo feels like a preview for some kind of masterpiece. I’ll save my praise for when that moment finally comes, but to keep it brief – demonstration is total fucking godhead.
There is a very real threat that a band like Forevr will simply release one or two ground-breaking albums and then disband or remain absent for nearly 20 years. Regardless of what happens you’ll want to invest now because it feels like some kind of revolution may finally rise up out of Brisbane and I’m sure just quietly that Forevr may have finally mastered a way to be a big part of the rapture once it hits.
8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10
By: Dan Newton