Young bands rejuvenating the fuzzy sounds of the late '80s and '90s have led some music fans to whisper about a so-called shoegaze revival -- a celebration of the "scene that celebrates itself." But it wasn't a revival.
Activity from shoegaze bands such as Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver and Jesus and Mary Chain suggest shoegaze is having a full-on comeback. Ride and J&MC are releasing new albums, too.
Perhaps no band's resurgence more prominently signals this revival more than the return of Slowdive. The band makes its first North Texas appearance in more than 20 years at the inaugural Fortress Festival in Fort Worth. The Neil Halstead-led outfit will soon release its fantastic self-titled album, the group's first since 1995. (We got an early listen.)
And of course, in this golden age of cash-grabbing reunions, any of these aging acts simply hitting the road again wouldn't be worth the possible tinnitus if they weren't returning with the authority to show young 'gazers how it's done.
Employing an arsenal of effects pedals and reverb-heavy droning, artists such as Halstead, along with My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, took pop, punk and psychedelic vibes and tones in a new direction where lyrics were often an after-thought. Vocals existed only to provide melodic support to ethereal, cinematic arrangements washing over the listener.
Slowdive's new album shows it chose to unpack its high-powered amps when the songs were just right. Dreamy and melodic, the band's new record is instantly familiar without bearing the dusty film of a pointlessly rehashed sound.
Shoegaze never truly went away: Many bands formed in the past few decades owe a debt to this group of Brits, among them the Smashing Pumpkins and M83. Those lush, ethereal, sometimes savage sounds that took England over just before Brit-pop exploded is a testament to the mighty influence that Slowdive and its top contemporaries continue to wield today.
Fortress Festival isn't a shoegaze concert, of course. Other bands include electro-pop band Purity Ring, hip-hop act Run the Jewels, experimental electronic producer Flying Lotus and more.
Concerts begin at 3 p.m. on April 29 and 30 and take place in the Fort Worth Cultural District. fortressfestival.com.