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Dreampop & Shoegaze – The Essential Guide And Mixtape

Dreampop and shoegaze are atmospheric subgenres of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody.

The genres were developed in the 1980’s as a subgenre of alternative rock and neo-psychedelia. The term was originally used by Alex Ayuli of the band A.R. Kane to describe the musical atmosphere his band employed, and since then, it’s been used to describe similar bands which fit the musical atmosphere that has come to define dream pop.  Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Cocteau Twins, and Slowdive pushed the boundaries and tried something outside of the typical catchy melody accompanied with predictable lyrics. Their songs are usually hazy and vague, like a pop song was sent into space in a vacuum-packed chamber and returned to Earth completely distorted. Though the terms can cover miles of the musical spectrum, shoegaze and dreampop songs always seem to make time seem a little bit slower and air a little bit sweeter.

Over the years, dreampop and shoegaze genres have bubbled up, and are currently attracting avant-garde young adults. Bands like Beach House, DIIV, and Wild Nothing picked up on the sound, creating their own unique take on it.

Interested in diving deeper into the dreampop & shoegaze genre, but unsure where to start? Then listen to this radio mix compiled on Singapore Community Radio

Also, check out these recommended albums list below:


My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

Arguably the most important record on the list, Loveless is one of modern music’s most critically acclaimed records. The legend surrounding its recording process (guitarist Kevin Shields’ studio demands nearly bankrupted their record label) has been told several times, as has the legend of their live show. The myth around the record falls flat in comparison to the actual music. Forty-eight minutes of intense distorted guitars, soothing arrangements, pounding drums and androgynous vocals whose message is mostly undecipherable. My Bloody Valentine’s magnum opus has gone down as one of those classic ’90s records that portray a band at its most talented and most creative.

Galaxie 500 – On Fire

Galaxie 500’s follow-up album trumps their first, Today, as they delve further into their idiosyncratic world of wonky vocals, off-kilter melodies, slowed-down grooves and quietly screeching guitar solos. A record that successfully manages to feel quiet and tender as often as it does raucous and wild.

Beach House – Teen Dream

One of 2010’s breakout artists, Baltimore duo Beach House wowed critics with its first record for Sup Pop, Teen Dream. Its cleaned up sound didn’t prevent the band from being labeled dreampop.  After all, its slow and dreamy tracks fit the genre’s criteria perfectly. Unlike other dreampop albums, Beach House’s Victoria Legrand is perfectly audible. This is just fine considering the fascinating abstract lyricsm of tracks like “Zebra.” The record overall evokes the feeling of the band’s name, but in a much winter-like kind of way.

Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas

A landmark record in every sense: era-defining, label-defining and genre-defining. Six albums in and amid personal tensions and drug problems in the band, this could have been a disaster record, but instead something magical emerged from it. Haunting, beautiful, gloomy, dark, immersive and everything else. From the opening seconds of the majestic Cherry-Coloured Funk, the album is like riding on a cloud.