Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sites of Horror

Welcome to another month of THE BLACK GLOVE's internet roadmap to cool horror related urls that we like to call SITES OF HORROR. Let's see what we have to offer this month, shall we?

This month I thought I'd take a little divergance into music instead of the usual horror related websites that we scour the internet to share them with you, our loyal Horrorhead readers.

If you've read any of my past editorials or music reviews then you've probably already guessed I'm a huge 'shoegazer' music fan. But I'm aware there's people who may not be familair with that wonderfully uncomplicated stylistic music which originated in the UK's underground music scene of the early 80s. Some of the bands which came out of that scene still have a huge fanbase of all ages. Bands such as "The Cocteau Twins", early "The Cure", "All About Eve", early "Catherine Wheel", "Kitchens of Distinction", "Slowdive", "My Bloody Valentine", who took their name from the infamous 1980 Canadian slasher, early "Lush", "Ride" and plenty of others who blossomed in the wake of the mostly melancholic sounding musical sub-genre's shortlived popularity amongst young clubbers who were looking for a new sound that expressed their sense of disconnection and angst about the world around them. But unlike punk rock music, these musicians expressed their disenchantment with introspective, sad-by-nature lyrics and a wall of sound that was filled with peddle effects and washed out vocals that lived on the edge of ethereal sound.

But that's only part of the definition. Because 'shoegazer' music really has two separate elements that typify and define what the traditional 'shoegazer' term covered.

Musicians in these bands usually didn't move around the stage much. Instead they stood relatively still during their live performances and barely interacted with their audience. They existed within the wash of sound in a a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state, hence the idea that these musicians were 'gazing' at their shoes. Also, as mentioned above, the heavy use of effects pedals was a huge part of the traditional sound of the movement, which again compounded that impression that they were looking at their feet, instead of the audience, during concerts.

But I think that's enough musical education...although, before I get into the three 'shoegazer' sites I'd like to share with you guys, I want to say that it's heartening to hear new bands who were inspired by those first 'shoegazers' and have come to leave their own stamp on my favorite musical sub-genre. So if you're looking for new bands who have carried on the 'shoegazer' tradition, I suggest "The Daysleepers", "Deer Hunter", "Alcian Blue", "Silversun Pickups", "The Radio Dept.", "His Name Is Alive", "Bright Channel", "Bethany Curve", "High Spire", "The Pains of Being Pure At Heart" and dozens and dozens more bands from all over the world. In fact, my all time favorite band, "Radiohead", owes a huge debt to the early 'shoegaze' musicians who paved the way for their mega-stardom. So if you're into that melancholic dream-pop sound, washes of ethereal guitar riffs and echo-chamber lyrics about angst-ridden, doomed lives, then check out any the bands listed above. Now let's get down to the sites.

First up, we have a great site that is committed to keeping the 'shoegazer' movement alive and in tears: WHEN THE SUN HITS. The site's creator and moderator takes great pains to not only cover the older bands, but he heavily promotes the new bands that are trying to keep the movement alive. There are tons of reviews and article-asides about his favorite bands (sometimes bands outside the traditional 'shoegazer' school) and even some great interviews with new bands who need the promotion.

And next up, we have another great little site called I WAS A TEENAGE SHOEGAZER that might be trying to keep the movement alive at all costs. So be warned, even though I'm promoting the site, it's purely for the 'shoegazer' news and musical education. I'm not condoning the site's semi-illegal activity beyond the 'shoegazer' articles and reviews...which are great for 'shoegazer' fans. But there are also plenty of bands and musicians that are more alternative music than purely 'shoegazer', but that's good, too, because man cannot live on 'shoegaze' alone, no matter how angst-ridden and melancholic he may be.

And the last site we have to offer for this special 'shoegazer' SITES OF HORROR is a message board devoted to all things 'shoegaze'. SHOEGAZE.CO.UK FORUM has quite a large community of regulars who frequent the excellent board and trade 'shoegaze' finds with one another. But it's not all music (and not all 'shoegaze' music either). The forum's regulars are well-rounded folks and talk art, films and everyday life. As with all message boards, one should remember the intenet is a 'type-screen-read-only' experience, and people will be people...meaning there's always a few bad apples in every batch. So keep that in mind and avoid the rare flamewars and immature kickups between people with snarky attitudes. Also, please remember SHOEGAZE.UK.CO Forum is an all ages board, so bear in mind the impressionable young minds that you might interact with during your visits. I've been hanging out there for years now and I always have a great time talking music and books with a broad spectrum of 'shoegaze' enthusiasts.

That concludes this special 'shoegaze' only SITES OF HORROR for this month. I encourage readers to check out a style of music which is coming back in a big way. Thank God! Maybe this second shot will make a huge impact on a rather dismal plastic modern music scene.

--Nickolas Cook