Archive for the ‘Shoegazing’ Category

Considered pioneers of dream pop, duo A.R. Kane were probably most well-known for their contribution to the 1987 club hit “Pump Up the Volume.” They collaborated with fellow Brits Colourbox and recorded the song under the name English dream pop duo A.R. KaneM|A|R|R|S. Formed in the mid-80s, their sound was similar to bands such as The Jesus & Mary Chain and other shoegaze/dream pop acts of the time. Although critically praised, they failed to connect with the mainstream and fell into obscurity. The 1986 single “When You’re Sad” was the duo’s first release. They would go on to release three albums and several EPs and singles before disbanding in 1994.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

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I’ve recently succumbed to the vinyl trend, which means I’ll be spending way too much money on music I already own. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a stash of albums from my teen years that my mother had the good judgment to not throw away. Unfortunately, I soon realized I’d need to start expanding my collection. After purchasing a new turntable, the first “new” albums I bought were Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands. Bypassing the temptation to purchase JaMC’s Psychocandy, I opted for their sophomore effort. After playing the album from front to back, the decision was a good one. From the opening guitar strums of “Darklands” to the haunting “About You,” the album still holds up.

The first song I heard from Darklands was “Happy When it Rains.” It was featured on MTV’s 120 minutes and was soon captured on video tape, and found lots of play on my cassette player. Tired of the electronic synth music of the mid-eighties, the Reid brothers decided to bring back guitar-based music. Moving away from the feedback and noise pop of their debut effort, Darklands was more melodic and was oddly simultaneously dark and optimistic. The album, recorded by the brothers with the aid of a drum machine, was a critical success. I’m sure it’s the first of many JaMC albums I’ll be purchasing in the near future.

One of my favorite songs from the album, “Happy When it Rains.” The video features the Reids at their moping best.

 

“April Skies” was the first single released from the album and reached #8 on the UK charts. The only single by the group to break the top ten.

 

The English trio Kitchens of Distinction were considered a precursor to the shoegaze movement of the late ‘80s. Formed in London in 1986, they were often compared to The Chameleons and Cocteau Twins, due to their swirling, psychedelic sound. The group was also known for their blunt lyrics and outspoken views, which most likely contributed to their lack of mainstream success. Taking their name from a home décor company that specialized in kitchens and plumbing fixtures (guitar player Julian Swales saw the ad on the side of a bus), the group was active for ten years before disbanding in 1996. During that time, they released four albums and several EPs and singles.

The group’s first single, 1987’s “The Last Gasp Death Shuffle” was named single of the week by NME and got the band signed to One Little Indian Records. This led singer Patrick Fitzgerald to put his career as a medical doctor on hold and devote his full attention to the band. Their first two singles for the label, “Prize” and “The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule,” made it on “NME Writers’ 100 Best Indie Singles Ever” list. Although the future looked promising, the mainstream music industry didn’t embrace the band, largely due to lyrical content. (The song “Margaret’s Injection” was a fantasy about killing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.) Also complicating matters was that Fitzgerald was openly gay and the lyrics often reflected this, which didn’t sit too well with the general public. Although finding moderate success on US college radio in the early ‘90s, the group faltered in the mid ‘90s. They were dropped by their record label during that time and decided to disband. They reformed in 2012 and released an album, Folly, in 2013.

“The Last Gasp Death Shuffle” was the band’s first single and sounds like a combination of early Echo & the Bunnymen and Talking Heads.

 

The group’s debut album, 1989’s Love is Hell, produced the single “”The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule.” It found the group moving towards a more psychedelic sound and is considered “a perfect Kitchens moment.”