The recent renewal of shoegaze music down the East Coast has become more than a sporadic, short-lived revival. Despite skeptics of the genre believing it to have “had its moment” (much like grunge did in the Pacific Northwest), the style is far from being an artifact of ’80s transatlantic experimentation. One of the most longstanding examples are the Boston group Swirlies, whose 1993 album Blonder Tongue Audio Baton remains a favorite of mine—and they’re still kicking around.
Right now the “big” names you’ll hear about regarding what has since been dubbed nu-gaze are the likes of such bands as Beach House, Deerhunter, and Wild Nothing. However, all of these groups tend to build off traditions that are not directly associated with their shoegazing antecedents, which is great and all, but there’s certainly a noticeable gap between a clean-cut roster of dream poppers and the explosiveness of such MBV disciples as No Joy.
WILDHONEY’s debut album, Sleep Through It, fits snuggly in the void, employing ethereal soundscapes and the occasional heavy progression that ebbs right back into a gentle delay of high-pitched guitar lines. The vocals are consistently gorgeous and slightly reminiscent of Amelia Fletcher’s singing on Heavenly records; while they are generally drowned by the wall of modulating guitars on tracks like “Seventeen,” the softness of singer Lauren Shusterich’s voice draws your ear tightly into each song. The dynamic between guitarists Joe Trainor and David Litz also has its unique charm (check out “Maybe You’re Crazy” and “Molly”), invoking the jangle of a Sarah Records lineup and the melodic-meets-discordant style of Ride’s Gardener-Bell partnership.
When records like Ride’s Nowhere have become increasingly tough to find, it’s refreshing to have an album like Sleep Through It stir the senses with overblown pedal-music building beneath well-tempered tunes. You can find this record at Deranged Records or, for cassette lovers, at Creature Tapes.