Eyes on the Floor: A Shoegaze Compilation (Part Two)

[Featuring Yuck, Pink Mist, Sloan, Slowdive, Ivansxtc and Music for Headphones.]

And we’re back. See also: Part One, also known as the “Noisier Half,” (but not officially) as this second half will have some noisy parts as well. (But not quite as many as the first half. If this were a DJ set [please say you’ll pretend it is], this would be the end of the night shift to downtempo tracks, warmer sounds and the excruciating realization that the fucking sun is up already???!!! Shit…)

Yuck – Rubber.mp3

If you haven’t a.) listened to Yuck and b.) lived through the college rock heyday of the late-80s/early-90s, then all I can say is I feel for you, man. (Or as the case may be, woman. Or just “dude.”) Yuck echo the altrock past without wallowing in nostalgia or simply aping their predecessors. This is full-bodied guitar rock, sans post-grunge pretension, sans pre-grunge cock-waving and sans the last vestiges of baggy Mancunian rock that seemed to drag its multicolored ass all the way up into the mid-nineties for no real reason other than to carry the dying hopes of the last A&R men on the bandwagon.

The guitar is front and center but not confrontational. The vocals take a schizophrenic approach, sometimes peeking over the top of the noise wall, other times allowing themselves to be dragged down by the sonic undertow. Tightrope walking on the delicate edge between noise and melody, Yuck channel everything you loved about early-nineties indie rock (and by “you,” I probably mean “me,” but play along) into a roiling storm of Sonic Youth-damaged chords and Jesus and Mary Chain-trademarked feedback. While Yuck may not wallow in nostalgia, feel free to do so yourself. (Most likely meaning “myself.”)

Pink Mist – Touchdown Kid.mp3

Some of you may recall Pink Mist from a rare period of prolificness over at the Other Blog (specifically, the Top 50 Tracks of 2010 feature). There’s not a ton of Hawaiian bands cranking out superb, shoegaze-esque rock. (Off the top of my head, I can think of only one: Pink Mist.) But crank out superb shoegaze they do. And Touchdown Kid is one of their best.

The first 45 seconds are a bit of a dodge, with sparse instrumentation delivering something edging towards the always-oxymoronic “acoustic rock.” But then the guitars kick in, reminding you that prime tropical real estate be damned, Pink Mist is here to make a bit of thunderous noise. It’s a melodic blare that encompasses the bleak lyrics (She gives me nothing for nothing), before tailing off into a quiet coda just past the last part of the chorus (I don’t know what is right anymore/Probably just go home and sleep on the floor). 2-1/2 minutes of quiet (and not so quiet) musical bliss. A concise charmer wearing its broken heart on its sleeve.

(Additional fun: while Pink Mist sounds like a short-lived Sprite flavor, its actual definition is markedly better/worse.)

Music for Headphones – Ich Bin Zang.mp3

They ain’t lying. While the right pair of finely appointed and nearly-justifiably expensive speakers (“Tell me you did NOT just set your drink on my Kilpsch.”) would no doubt give this track the ride of its young life, it really needs the opportunity to crawl entirely inside your skull in order to serve its purpose. Music for Headphones obviously know how to craft soundscapes and mini-opuses that pile layers on layers and sprawl casually across your frontal lobe with all the confidence of the slick con man who’s currently banging your sister young man who’s obviously playing a “long game” that should culminate in making her an honest woman.

There’s some Krautrocking going on amidst all the shoegazing, but MFH keeps things moving along as much as music containing both these elements can reasonably be expected to “move along.” (Yeah! Get off its back already! Can’t it just be itself for awhile?!?) Surprisingly defensive music writing aside, Ich Bin Zang stands on its own merits, among which include a.) some refreshing and airy vocals, b.) a propulsive Kraftwerkian bass/synth line, c.) a bit of organ (always welcome), d.) a rather lovely drop and build around the 5 minute mark, which gives the listener a head fake before heading into e.) a bit of a relaxing coda occasionally interrupted by scorching (but brief) blasts of guitar.

Ivansxtc – Yesterday.mp3

Copypasted  from here. My old post will have to do as nothing new has surfaced on who is behind Ivansxtc.

I may overuse “gorgeous” but that’s exactly what this is. Ivansxtc whips up a sonic daydream out of indescribable longing buoyed by repeatedly cresting waves of guitar crush and minor keys. Bears a solid resemblance to Peter Murphy taking My Bloody Valentine for a quick spin through the darker corners of 4AD’s catalog. Apparently, Ivan cuts his product with tears of quiet desperation.

Can’t be said much better than that, but let’s go ahead and throw some more references and superlatives in the general direction of this faceless, nameless entity.

Yesterday is the kind of track that a million bands with a million effects pedals would give their original drummer to be able to crank out. Yesterday is the kind of track that makes all other songs named Yesterday sound like the stuff cranked out by Open Mic Night contestants who couldn’t make it past the first round. This INCLUDES the Beatles, the epitome of songwriting, rockandroll, etc. according to millions of Beatles fans. I, for one, will be stuffing this track in my ear repeatedly, rather than listen to the tepid balladry of four British moptops, of whom half are dead and the other half are a.) self-righteously annoying (vegan edition) and b.) self-righteously annoying (no one ever took me seriously edition). I encourage you to do the same.

Sloan – What’s There To Decide?.mp3

After all the carefully controlled mayhem of Part One (and parts of Part Two), it’s time to sit back and let the waves of sound gently wash over our body like the tide curling over a corpse left too close the shoreline. Or feel free to imagine something more pleasant, like a kitten laying on a warm blanket in the sun, lazily looking over at the corpse of its owner and wondering at what point it can move on from grieving the lack of food in its bowl and start eating the body lying awkwardly on the floor.

This track is from Sloan’s debut, which appeared roughly a lifetime ago (1992, to be exact), the product of some inventive Nova Scotians who went on to do bigger and better things, drawing comparisons to the Beatles and such as well as forming one of the most well-behaved and fiercely loyal fanbases in music history. But this is from Sloan’s audacious first album, which featured several shoegazey/indie rocking tracks led by cheerful rushes of distorted guitar and some rather amazing harmonizing. While probably not the saddest song recorded (perhaps due to the band members’ aversion to mid-career suicide), it is still one of the saddest songs ever recorded by Nova Scotians.

Easy to sing along with and filled with inviting tones that offset the at-arm’s-length detachment of the lyrics. Dying on the inside is never pretty but it sure makes for some achingly beautiful music.

Slowdive – Dagger.mp3

You know that feeling that comes from knowing you’ll keep hurting someone as long as you’re with them? Not the much more fun “I’m bad for you, but in a good way” feeling that leads to amusing misadventures like having a quickie in the broom closet at church or renting a convertible and going on a cross-country killing spree. None of that. This would be the feeling that expresses itself more quietly, through long painful silences punctuated by slammed doors, truncated late night phone calls and, every once in awhile, a suicide-homicide.

Slowdive know that feeling (the second one) and have expressed it in a very spacious but restrained way, allowing the vocals to rise to meet the instrumentation. It’s all aches and pains of the heart/soul variety, impossible to precisely locate, but overwhelmingly present all the same. The singer implicates himself over and over (“And me, I am your dagger/You know I am your wound“) but is unable to change a thing, because That’s Just How These Things Go Sometimes. I’m bad for you and you’re worse for/because of me. I’d change everything if I could but I can’t because I can’t actually change anything. Mutually assured self-destruction makes for some very pretty music.

[For more “I hurt everything I love” music, see also: the afore-mentioned Sloan’s I Am the Cancer which I will what-the-fuck-why-not just go ahead and embed directly below, because that’s how the internet works, people. Show. Don’t tell.]

Follow the link below for the entire Eyes on the Floor set contained in one zip file. In addition to some COMPLETELY OBJECTIVELY AWESOME cover art, you’ll find three (3) bonus tracks appended. [Mogwai’s spacious remix of Yuck’s Rubber, a more “plugged-in” version of Slowdive’s Dagger and, because you just can’t spell “shoegaze” without My Bloody Valentine, their cover of Wire’s Map Ref 41°N 93°W)

Eyes on the Floor




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3 responses to “Eyes on the Floor: A Shoegaze Compilation (Part Two)

  1. Pingback: Eyes on the Floor: A Shoegaze Compilation (Part One) | Minor Scratches

  2. Great post! Love the inclusion of some early Sloan, and Yuck too who are great. Hadn’t heard Pink Mist but I liked the song and will definitely check them out now Cheers.