Shoegaze is having a real moment. For so long the genre was the least fashionable early nineties guitar rock, overshadowed by the incredible popularity of grunge and Brit-Pop and the longevity of indie rock and emo. Over the past couple of years, however, shoegaze has gotten its due. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Swervedriver and Ride have all released (or are about to release) albums that stand up to the records made during their initial tenures. This is thanks to a couple of factors: First, shoegaze benefits greatly from the advances in recording technology made over the past 30 years. The grandiosity and maximalism of the guitar effects these bands utilize can sonically cut through in a way their nineties records didn’t (this is not to disparage those records, of course, all of which sound great given the era). Second, the reflective, maudlin and introspective nature of shoegaze doesn’t get tired or seem disingenuous coming from a bunch of middle aged musicians. Reunited bands that relied on piss and vinegar in their prime have demonstratively not faired so well.
All that said, the appreciation shoegaze has been receiving has more to do with new bands than the genre’s originators. Just in Canada alone, new indie rock bands are way more likely to tag themselves as shoegaze than they would emo, rock, noise, punk–hell maybe, even “indie.” The term has become so ubiquitous that bands are finding new ways to classify themselves within the genre.
Not You, a four-piece comprised of veterans of the Halifax music scene, label themselves “slippergaze.” Whatever that means, Not You’s music is certainly shoegaze-indebted, but it’s easier to digest on first listen than the oversaturated sound walls of the genre’s forebearers.
Misty, Not You’s debut EP, is packed with catchy pop tunes, barely hidden beneath dreamy leads and fuzzed-out power chords. Opening track “Mable” sounds like could have been written by a hazier version of the Vaselines, while the lyrically surprising Pt (“Please don’t take a pee in my tea for me”) sounds like a lost pop-rock Fugazi number. “LI” is a deceptively well-crafted song, sounding not too far off from fellow East Coasters Alvvays, with a foreboding edge that keeps the verses from sound too sugary. “Soup” stands out as the EP’s strongest track. The guitar interplay is pure chemistry, each player adding expertly to the others parts, building up to come crashing down during the song’s conclusion.
Perhaps what Not You means by “slippergaze” has to do with comfort: how comforting the whir of the vocal harmonies are and how comfortable the band sounds elevating these well-written, catchy songs. Not You are one of the best young shoegaze-indebted bands in Canada at the moment, and they will help ensure the genre’s continued resurgence for the foreseeable future.
Rose Cousins “The Benefits of Being Alone” and “The Reprise (The Benefits of Being Alone)”