Look Down! Sunday Listening Pleasure Goes “Shoegaze”

From the Urban Dictionary:

shoegaze: A style of rock music that emerged in England in the late 80s that featured blisteringly loud and dreamily reverberated feedback.

From wiki:

Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze) is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted there until the mid 1990s, with a critical zenith reached in 1990 and 1991. The British music press—particularly NME and Melody Maker—named this style shoegazing because the musicians in these bands stood relatively still during live performances in a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state, hence the idea that they were gazing at their shoes.[1][2] The heavy use of effects pedals also contributed to the image of performers looking down at their feet during concerts.

The shoegazing sound is typified by significant use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blend into the creative noise of the guitars.[1] A general description given to shoegazing and other affiliated bands in London in the early 1990s was The Scene That Celebrates Itself. In the early 1990s, shoegazing groups were pushed aside by the American grunge movement and early Britpop acts such as Suede, forcing the relatively unknown bands to break up or reinvent their style altogether.[1] Recent times have seen a renewed interest in the genre among “nu-gaze” bands.

Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive are all examples of “shoegaze” bands.  But I’m only interested in one of the “shoegazers.”

Lush was one of the first bands to be given the “shoegaze” label.  Originally called The Baby Machines, they renamed themselves Lush after a few line up changes and failed bands.  Lush combined heavily distorted, sometimes hypnotic, almost dreamlike guitars with dual female vocals in Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson.  Also from Wiki, here’s a little on the early days in their own words:

Emma Anderson said of the band’s beginnings: “We were kind of punk rock in one way. We did think ‘Well, if they can do it, why the fuck can’t we?’ Basically, our idea was to have extremely loud guitars with much weaker vocals. And, really, the vocals were weaker due to nervousness – we’d always be going ‘Turn them down! Turn them down!'”[2] Miki Berenyi said, “We started by writing crappy riot grrl anthems… which was probably charming in a juvenile way. But there was a very rapid shift from the minute we started to write for records. The music, the lyrics became much more thoughtful and expressive, more important, really. I remember that change beginning when Emma wrote “Thoughtforms,” it certainly made me think I needed to get my act together.”[2]

In 1989, the band signed to 4AD Records and released Scar, a 6-track mini-album. Critical praise for Scar and a wildly popular live show established Lush as one of the most written about groups of the early 1990s UK indie scene. Anderson told Everett True in Melody Maker, “I remember when I couldn’t play, I wasn’t in a band, didn’t know anyone else who could play, and now we’ve got a record out on 4AD. I sometimes find it impossible to come to terms with what’s happening.”[2]

Lush‘s last release was also their best selling record, possibly because of a more upbeat sound that drifted away from “shoegaze” into straight up “Britpop.”  The suicide of drummer Chris Acland in 1996 brought Lush to an end.

Ok, on to the music!  (Video’s are after the jump, and there are a lot of them. See you there!)

From their first album, Gala.  First, De-Luxe.

I’ve been waiting on the slide
Suggest I open wide
No incentive to hide
Happy coursing through my veins
Don’t even know my name
When I’m up you’re coming down

Inside of me, some sight to see
Some sight to feel our earthy bed

When we’re wrapped in polythene
What’s that supposed to mean
Paper flowers bring me luck
No birds in sight I fear
Stick sticks in you my dear
When I’m up you’re coming down

Some say I’m vague
And I’d easily fade
Foolish parade of fantasy

Drink in your eyes
Drink in your sighs
Grass in my thighs my aching legs

(Author: E. Anderson)

Second Sight:

Peel back empty night
Grey dawn breaks into white
Sun climbing the sky
Your eyes reflecting the light
Clouds out of sight
But when the day is through
Will I see you again

Keep your eyes on me
Don’t let go of my hand
Running together
We go together so well
I can tell

Run where I run
Play what I play
Do what I do
But when this day’s through
Will I see you again

(Author: M. Berenyi)

Downer:

In me you’ll see
Dirt flows freely
But you may find
That my thoughts are unkind

Pure life needs knife
Cuts off my life
But as you see
Hurting you you bless me

I always wanted to cry
After the act close my eyes
I always longed for the deep
Then I just wanted to sleep

Blood stream cruel dream
Never make clean

Down by my side I feel safe when I hide
So you can see that my thought are for me

(Author: E. Anderson)

Bitter:

Just don’t imagine that I’ll still remember you
Don’t even think I’ll try
I’ll take my memories and drown them in my glass
And then I’ll drink a toast of bitterness and wash you from my heart

I count the blessings that took you away from me
I laugh to think I cried
I don’t need what you got I don’t miss what you do
‘Cause I can raise my glass and drink a toast of bitterness to you

And now my mind recalls no memory of you
And so I raise a smile and drink a toast of bitterness to you

Just don’t imagine that I still remember you
Don’t even think I care
You took your love elsewhere and I drank mine away
With bitter thoughts of you that washed my memories of you away

(Author: M. Berenyi)

And Leaves Me Cold:

Dreams deep heat teasing my mind
Sleep peels sweet stealing my sighs
She breathes deep when he’s inside
Dreams deep heat poisons my mind

Inside me there’s a separate world
It’s winning and I’m losing control
I’m coming but my eyes are closed
I’m coming but it leaves me cold

Night’s bright lights dim in the day
Blind eyes smile at you today
I find I’m falling away
My eyesights never the same

Inside me there’s a separate girl
She’s winning and I’m losing control
She coming but my eyes are closed
She’s coming but I wake up and it leaves me cold

(Author: M. Berenyi)

From the second LP, Spooky, here is Nothing Natural:

Before I met you I was blind
Pills and liquid filled my mind
Beneath your outline I was new
Overflowing with your tune

And don’t you know you’re beautiful

Next month I missed you like a child
Couldn’t see past you though I tried

And don’t you know you’re beautiful

Now I think of every hour
When you still retained your power
And the precious nights we’d share
When we’d breathe in common air

The feeling now you’ve gone
This wretched life goes on
The knife inside of me
It turns just like a key

The sunlight always comes too soon
My body asks me what to do
I was so small and vulnerable
And you were only beautiful

The seasons shining in your hair
And it was more than I could bear
But I can see you in my smile
And you are only beautiful

(Author: E. Anderson)

For Love

Pretty little girl, she shines
Knowing she is young, she smiles
Happy just to be a prize
Happy just to see his smile

Silly little girl, she tries
Thinking she is good, and wise
Doesn’t recognise the lies
Pouring from her lips, she sighs;

“This is so real,
It’s what I feel,
I look in your eyes and lose myself”

Silly little girl denies
Ever understanding why
Her face is full of sad surprise
Every time she hears him cry;

“What do you feel
When you’re with me?
I look in your eyes and see myself”

But there’s no connection,
Just his own reflection
Isn’t this the way you wanted me?
(What do you mean?)
In love with you
(What do I feel?)
Do anything
(What do you mean?)
For you

She looked in his eyes to lose herself

And when it falls apart, she cries
Doesn’t think to look inside
She just covers up her eyes
Doesn’t see her own disguise

And though she feels this sorrow,
It will fade tomorrow
She’ll pretend that this was really love
(What do you mean?)
She’ll make their fall
(What did I feel?)
Seem beautiful
(What do you mean?)
She won’t remember this at all
(What do you mean?)
She won’t recall
(What did I feel?)
The truth at all
(What do you mean?)
She wants to fall
(What did I feel?)
Again
(What do you mean?)

(Author: M. Berenyi)

From Split, their third album, here are Blackout and Hypocrite:

This version of Blackout is from a Peel session, and could be considered rare:

I’m not interested in what you have to say
You’re just a vacant space
Other people’s lives upon which you prey
It’s a permanent disgrace
Why do you think you know what’s best for me?
What I should and shouldn’t do
Why do you judge my history?
And tell me to improve
In the confines of your mind
You think we’re all the same
I’ve left them all behind
Though you wish I hadn’t
In finding fault in others I can’t see
What you have to gain
I know that you get pleasure from
Other people’s pain
You’re not so perfect and I realise the scene
That you’re all coming from
When you say you care I know what you mean
You’re really lying
All the people around here
Love to hear about a fall
They all surface and disappear
In an instant
In the confines of your mind
You think we’re all the same
I’ve left them all behind
Though you wish I hadn’t

(Author: E. Anderson)

A silly girl I run around and never know my reasons
An though you’re laughing with me
I know what you say about me
I can’t explain, it’s not your business anyway
So don’t say you understand
And don’t pretend you’re on my side
And I remember when you hated her for sleeping next to him
I see your smiling face but I know you’ve done worse to me

You hypocrite, don’t talk to me
‘Cause you’re not fit to know me
So don’t pretend
That you could’ve ever been a friend
And still I’m sure you think it’s ok
What you’ve done to me
‘Cause I’m so bad to him
Don’t even try to hide behind that stupid lie
I know your kind and I know where your loyalties lie
The silly girls we run around and never know our reasons
And though I understand I guess I’ll say that you betrayed me

I’m a hypocrite, I dish it out but I can’t take it
I know you think it’s wrong
And maybe you’re right but this is my song
And still I’m sure you think it’s ok
What she did to me ’cause I’m so bad to him
Don’t even try to hide behind that stupid smile
I know our kind and I know where our loyalties lie

(Author: M. Berenyi)

One more from Split, Light from a Dead Star:

He lives his life in a world full of women
And he takes what he wants from their love
And he throws the rest away
I cling to him and pray
But still he slips away
And now it’s just too late
To wish him back again

She won’t put up with this life so she leaves him
And she finds someone else, falls in love
And she travels far away
I say that it’s ok
And swallow all my pain
And now it’s just too late
To wish her back again

They left me here on my own in a nightmare
And I just can’t forgive any more
So I smile and turn away
Don’t listen when they say
They wish that I could stay
And now it’s just too late
To wish me back again

(Author: M. Berenyi)

And one video from the later Britpop days, here is Ladykillers:

Here we go, I’m hanging out in Camden
Drinking with my girlfriends on a Saturday night
This guy says, “come and meet my girlfriend”
She’s sitting in the corner looking rather uptight
So I say “hello” and I try to be nice
But I see he’s feeling itchy
Trying to play us off each other
“Girls, girls, please don’t fight”
(you get the picture)
Hey you, the muscles and the long hair
Telling me that women are superior to men
Most guys just don’t appreciate this
You just try convincing me you’re better than them
So he talks for hours ’bout his sensitive soul
And his favourite subject is sex
I don’t think he even really wanted it
But, Christ, this guy’s too much
(I wanna tell him)
I’m as human as the next girl, I like a bit of flattery
But I don’t need your practised lines, your school of charm mentality so
Save your breath for someone else and credit me with something more
When it comes to men like you, I know the score, I’ve heard it all before
(Here comes the next one)
Blondie was with me for a summer
He flirted like a maniac but I wouldn’t bite
I’m weak and he was so persistent
He only had to have me ’cause I put up a fight
Oh God, the boy had such an ego
He liked to talk about himself all day and all night
You think you’re such a ladykiller
But you were nothing special ’til you turned out the light
When he’s nice to me he’s just nice to himself
And he’s watching his reflection
I’m a five foot mirror for adoring himself
Here’s seven years’ bad luck
(I wanna tell him)
When you say you love me you’re just flattering your vanity
But I don’t need your practised lines, your school of charm mentality so
Save your breath for someone else and credit me with something more
When it comes to men like you, I know the score, I’ve heard it all before
Ooh, you’re such a ladykiller, always on a winner, thinking that you’re in there
Oh boy, you’re such a ladykiller, super sexy mister, call it what you will, oh
You think you’re such a ladykiller, I just bet you’re still there, posing in the mirror
Hey girls, he’s such a ladykiller, but we know where he’s coming from and we know the score.

(Author: M. Berenyi)

All lyrics come from the site Downer Light from a Dead Star – Lush Remembered is another tribute site.  Hope you found something new to listen to.

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