This week in Hidden Treasures, a look at a once obscure subgenre now a blueprint for the next decade of British music.
First there was Nu-Rave, now say hello to Nu-Gaze. As British pop delves further into its 80s heritage, this obscure subgenre has unobtrusively wormed its way into the mainstream. It’s unlikely that you will find many bands out there who self-identify as Nu-Gaze groups – as the label still carries some the stigma attached to the term ‘shoe-gaze’, which was adopted by NME and the wider music press to describe and (affectionately) mock ‘80s groups such as Slowdive and Moose who persistently starred at the floor during performance – but they are out there in a big way.
The droning riffs, subdued vocals and walls of distorted, messy guitar or synth are what you should be looking out for – and will certainly find in the works of bands like The XX and The Big Pink. You can hardly have missed the commercial success of tracks like The XX’s ‘Crystalised’, which has so much mainstream, trans-Atlantic appeal it has even been used in the ‘Gossip Girl’ sound track. Despite shoe-gaze being synonymous with overindulgence and middleclass angst, its progeny is actually receiving quite a bit of love from the critics, as the 2007 Nu-Gaze album ‘We Can Create’, from one-man-band Maps (A.K.A. James Chapman) was nominated for the Mercury Prize and The Big Pink’s single ‘Dominos’ won best track at the NME Music Awards this year. All this success is proof that by combining that raw melancholy and expansive soundscapes of shoe-gaze with some quirky synth-pop sensibilities, Nu-Gaze is creating a blueprint for British music in the next decade.
Nu-Gaze Top 5:
The XX – Crystalised
The Big Pink – Dominos
Maps – You Don’t Know Her Name
Temper Trap – Love Lost
Bat for Lashes – Daniel