I’ve predominantly been a metal fan and a rock fan throughout my life, but shoegaze is a genre that has snuck in there more and more. From the early genre giants like Slowdive to the newer bands like Alcest and The Daysleepers, this is my list of the 30 ultimate shoegaze bands.
Some bands tread well into other genres like dream pop, blackgaze, post-rock, alternative rock and progressive rock. Sorry for my lack of My Bloody Valentine, but I just don’t like the noisy side of shoegaze that much at all. Many bands are also newer and considered less original and influential. Blasphemy!
About the authorI’m Stefan Nordström, an aspiring musician and content creator. This is one of the ways I promote Soliloquium, my progressive death/doom metal band. Don’t worry, there’s some shoegaze in there too! If you’re searching for new music in the style, it would be awesome if you listened to my stuff on:
Hardcore band gone shoegaze. I haven’t heard any of the older Hundredth material, but 2017’s “RARE” is a solid album.
Slightly over-hyped band in my eyes, but the albums I’ve heard are still solid examples of shoegaze.
28. Secret Shine
Secret Shine released its debut album back in the golden shoegaze days (1993), adding three new full-lengths in the new millennium. To me the band sounds like a more intense version of Slowdive, not quite matching the songwriting chops.
Up-tempo shoegaze with a pretty strong indie rock vibe. Nice for a change of tempo from the dreamier stuff.
26. Holy Fawn
Super-dynamic band that treads the line between being a metal band and a shoegaze band. Holy Fawn’s heavy moments are cool, but I must admit I like them the most when they go full on dreamy, like in the song “Seer”.
25. Air Formation
Melodic and melancholic, just as good shoegaze is supposed to be. Not a very original band, but I like most of their tunes.
Comes across as extremely influenced by Alcest, for good and bad. Lack of originality aside, Sylvaine can certainly write some good songs and melodies.
23. Bethany Curve
Quite a depressive take on shoegaze with some really nice guitar effects. Highly melancholic, especially 2001’s “You Brought us Here”.
22. Autumn’s Grey Solace
Really nice band with female vocals and an ethereal wave vibe. Released an impressive amount of albums, and most of it is very good, especially 2005’s “Riverine”.
Nicely melancholic shoegaze with a classic Slowdive influence. The first two albums are especially enjoyable. Turned more and more towards electronic sounds over time.
20. The Butterfly Explosion
Irish band with one 2010 album in its discography. Amazingly warm and dreamy sound, the song “Sophia” being the highlight.
I know you’re supposed to love or hate Deafheaven immensely, but I’ve always found them somewhere between good and decent.
18. Be Forest
It feels a bit stupid to be so obsessed with aesthetics, but damn this band has some beautiful guitar tones. Far from the most original band, but I still find myself spinning them once in a while, especially 2019’s “Knocturne”.
17. Arctic Plateau
Underrated Italians playing a mix between shoegaze and post-rock. Released two solid albums in 2009 and 2012, I find myself preferring the second one “The Enemy Inside”.
I’m not sold on 2019’s “Dreaming the Dark”, but the previous albums have been on a pretty high rotation in my playlist. Tamaryn focuses on the dreamy side of shoegaze, with lush female vocals and a heavy Slowdive influence.
15. Cocteau Twins
Putting a super-influential band this low might be blasphemy, but I honestly don’t listen to Cocteau Twins enough to warrant a higher place. However, I don’t deny the massive influence the band has on dream pop and shoegaze music.
14. A Shoreline Dream
A solid shoegaze band, and one of my favorite shoegaze band names. As with many newer shoegaze bands, A Shoreline Dream wear its influences on its sleeve, but there’s no denying the atmosphere and songwriting skills.
13. Last Leaf Down
Autumnal Swiss band with a modern post-rock-infused take on shoegaze. One of the most promising newer bands in the genre.
12. Bowery Electric
The strange combination of shoegaze and trip-hop really works for Bowery Electric. If 90’s Massive Attack and Slowdive would merge together, it would sound something like this. Very cool and unique-sounding band.
I’m really centered around the song “Fall” when it comes to this band. It’s one of the most unbelievably beautiful shoegaze songs ever written. The rest of the material I’ve heard ranges from good to decent as well.
Wray’s “Hypatia” is one of my favorite summer shoegaze albums. Nicely bittersweet, drifty and energetic at the same time. Not a huge fan of the band’s other material, but my connection to that album is great enough to earn them a top 10 spot.
Starting off, I have to say that “Whale” is one of the most unbelievably gorgeous shoegaze songs I’ve ever heard. One of the best Slowdive-influenced bands out there.
8. Slow Crush
Slow Crush and the 2018 album “Aurora” is a massive slow-burner for me. I didn’t think much of it at first, but it’s grown on me over time. One thing I really enjoy is the mix of uptempo songs and dreamy songs.
7. Trespassers William
Angelic-sounding band somewhere between dream pop, shoegaze and folk. Incredible female vocals and a lot of emotion. Sadly, Trespassers William has disbanded, but the three full-length albums are all very strong. “Different Stars” is my favorite album and song.
6. Minor Victories
Excellent project featuring Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. Not pure shoegaze, but the influence is definitely there. Some really dynamic, beautiful music with a lot of heart in it. “Breaking My Light”, “Folk Arp” (below) and “The Thief” are especially mesmerizing.
From Peru of all places comes the most underrated shoegaze band of all time. Incredibly dreamy sound, especially on 2008’s excellent “Pleamar” album.
4. The Daysleepers
The two EP’s and 2008’s “Drowned in the Sea of Sound” is some of the best shoegaze music ever made. The Daysleepers takes the blueprint of what most people call “nu-gaze” (Slowdive influences and alternative rock), and really maximizes both sounds. It’s both incredibly dreamy and quite energetic at times.
Alcest is of course equal parts blackgaze and atmospheric black metal, but my favorite is actually 2014’s “Shelter”, the pure shoegaze album. The band obviously worships Slowdive and influenced the modern metal scene more than the shoegaze scene.
There’s no denying Slowdive and the two classic 90’s albums. I dig 1995’s “Pygmalion” and the self-titled comeback album as well. Slowdive is influential as no other shoegaze band, and I still find myself stunned at times at how such simple music can have such a big emotional impact.
1. Klimt 1918
Klimt 1918 combines the classic shoegaze sound with the hooks of alternative rock and a metal-influenced emotional sensibility. One of a kind band. It feels weird to rank Klimt above Slowdive, but what can you do when the band is just so damn good?
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