» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Gone Faded
Silver Sleeve

Rating: 6.2/10 ?

November 2, 2007
Not much of today's music can count shoegaze as a prime influence, save for the handful of bands paying homage to the originators of the style: My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Dinosaur Jr. Artists that do follow the shoegaze path find their comfort zone in its droning swells - Serena Maneesh, Wilderness, Engineers - but they are few and far between. Which is not particularly surprising, considering that the name alone, shoegaze, lacks the hipness or theatrics that make other genres more attractive to new bands. But maybe it should be surprising, considering the first-rate range of acts often placed under shoegaze's broad umbrella: the Cocteau Twins, Ride, Lush, Slowdive, the Catherine Wheel, Spiritualized, Lilys, and The Verve, to name a few.

What all those bands have in common is that their music is about sound and little else; often swirling guitars, hushed vocals, and peaks and valleys of sound are melded in phonic synthesis. The genre paved the way for, and continues to live in the shadow of, grunge and Brit-pop - two movements that had more character. Soft, with their debut album Gone Faded, play up the best of both worlds. Part shoegaze/dream pop and part 1990s Brit pop, they come off like a mash-up of The Charlatans UK, The Stone Roses, and Ride, but, as their name would suggest, a little bit softer.

Soft's approach has its pros and cons. On the one hand, they miss the essence of shoegaze; reverberating guitars are traded in for bluesy Manchester riffs, meaning they neither achieve the allure of Ride nor the swagger of the Charlatans UK. On the other hand, their method is an embellishment of Brit-pop, in large part due to Gone Faded's breathy vocals and an excessive texturing of sound, thus snubbing (while at the same time being steeped in) more common touchstones of the British sound in favor of works such as Oasis' Be Here Now and South's With The Tides.

The album's opening title track is a shoegaze cliché. From the less than inspired title, to the song that follows the concept, it is a bubbly and spacious number. The construction of the track relies on trailing echoes of breathy vocals, nothing short of blasphemy to the ears of My Bloody Valentine devotees. Succeeding track "Higher" falls into a similar pattern.

Gone Faded really doesn't make its mark until Soft downshifts into "You Make Me Wanna Die." The tracks that follow are not so sullen, but neither are they over the top. "Dumb Blood" and "Great Spirit," both equal parts Stone Roses and Charlatans UK, ride on upbeat guitar lines. Vocalist Johnny Reineck pulls off a move that only Ian Brown and Tim Burgess have laid claim to when he sings, in genuine fashion, "How am I supposed to say it/ great spirit's what you're feeling."

"Ring On" is the album's standout track. Whereas most of Gone Faded finds a happy medium between the idea of shoegaze and largely ignored British sounds, "Ring On" sounds fresh - it is a slow churner that sounds little like the influences that are so prevalent on the disc, and had the band taken the album more in its direction things would have been far more interesting. But they didn't. And as a whole, whether we should take cues from a band that finds merit in the Stone Roses' Second Coming is debatable. But at times Gone Faded is kind of good, that is if you're not some kind of a purist.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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