The Best Shoegaze and Dream Pop of 2017

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Nearly 30 years on from its centralized origins in towns along the Thames, shoegaze is more than ever a global affair. Among the dozen albums on this list are the work of artists from places as far apart as Brisbane, Australia, St. Petersburg, Russia, and good old Chicago, Illinois. This list could have easily kept going, to other worthy albums from locales such as Jersey City (Overlake's Fall), Valencia, Spain (Ghost Transmission's Echoes), and Doncaster, England (93millionmilesfromthesun's The Lonely Sea & The Sky), but it will begin with one from somewhere and someone more familiar to the scene…

12. The Telescopes - As Light Return (Tapete)

The aforementioned shoegaze veterans Ride and Slowdive both made their big return on record this year, but their stormy psychedelic peers the Telescopes have more or less been un-quietly plugging away since they picked back up in 2002. As Light Return is a thick, often wordless mud of static and sustain. Its five songs weigh down a distant end of the shoegaze spectrum, building up states of anti-bliss that few in their field have the temerity to pull off.

11. Airiel - Molten Young Lovers (Shelflife)

Ten years have passed since Airiel's debut album, The Battle of Sealand, and it has been five since the Kid Games EP in 2012. The Chicago-based quartet have as much patience as their rhythm-driven songs keep a determined pace. Molten Young Lovers launches itself forward with the propulsive "This Is Permanent" and the single "Cloudburst", putting drummer Spencer Kiss in the clear center as his bandmates spin sticky melody webs around him. Airiel's steps may be a bit far in between, but they haven't made a wrong one yet.

10. The Stargazer Lilies - Lost (Graveface)

The Northeast Pennsylvania duo of John Cep and Kim Field -- whose former musical incarnation, Soundpool, has become one of those underappreciated groups that new listeners keep coming around to after the fact -- released their guitar-melting second album, Door to the Sun, just last year. Lost is not quite a proper follow up, but a collection of individual tracks and fan favorites that have not until this point been given a rightful physical release. All the same, Lost carries itself with the same heavy psych grace as their two previous LPs, including their cover of the Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot duet, "Bonnie and Clyde".

9. Blankenberge - Radiogaze

Pinkshinyultrablast's Grandfeathered made an ear-splitting appearance on last year's list, and this year we have the full-length arrival of Blankenberge, another shoegaze group from the unlikely hotspot of St. Petersburg, Russia. Radiogaze doesn't embellish with the same copious levels of noise that Grandfeathered does, but there's certainly some affinity between the two. Blankenberge reach for decibel-smashing serenity a few hairs shy of shrill, allowing singer Yana's vocals to hang brightly above the maelstrom.

8. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On the Echoing Green (Mexican Summer)

While the Telescopes lure shoegaze to the dark side, further experiments with the form can be found on the new album from Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Here, the Tarantel founder and prolific experimental solo artist turns the genre's trademarks inside out, deconstructing the whole and examining the parts like a half-mad scientist. On the Echoing Green is detached from such earthly concerns as verses and choruses, allowing its sense of euphoria to float freely in clouds of gauze and delay.

7. Fazerdaze - Morningside (Flying Nun)

Last seen dominating the indie rock world's attention in the early 2010's, bedroom dream pop is alive and well and currently residing in Auckland, New Zealand. That is where 24-year-old Amelia Murray recorded her debut album in, yes, her bedroom studio. After self-releasing a self-titled EP back in 2015, this time around Morningside was picked up by none other than Flying Nun. The famed indie label is a natural home for Fazerdaze's simple pleasures and supple textures.

Next Page
PM Picks
Pop Ten

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.