Solar Powered People: The Shoegazers are Coming!
I was going over my “to listen” pile when I came across the self titled album by Solar Powered People. After a really impressive opener I was ready to turn on the computer and start writing. As the songs progressed, I found myself drowning in a wave of delays fuzz boxes and floating vocals….And then I remembered: The shoegazers are coming back!
Which begs a little history lesson…
With the success of bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, a new genre was born in the mid 80’s. The term was coined after the band’s odd style of performance, which consisted mainly of staring at the floor while playing. Sound-wise it incorporated walls of guitar, endless riffs and bucket loads of feedback.
The scene itself was defined by My Bloody Valentine’s first few EPs. Bands like Ride, Chapterhouse, and Lush dominated the scene, which was described as a “ccene that celebrates itself” (Being a London musician myself, that mostly means no one comes to your gigs except for other bands).
The shoegazers died out in the early 90’s, mainly due to lack of stage charisma and hits. It did give birth to bands like The Verve and Spiritualized, and in a sense produced a few chart toppers like Blur’s “She’s So High”, and Lush’s “Ladykiller”.
And so the past is set to repeat itself in gaps of 20’s. We did the early 80’s, we’re almost upon the re-emergence of hair bands, and it’s about time we re-visited 1987. Some bands like The Strokes have shown us they can borrow from the past and create their own improved style. Others, like The Bravery, proved to be nothing more than a glorified tribute band.
So what can Solar Powered People bring to the mix? The Californians obviously pay compliments to their elders with beautiful rich sounds. A bit of goth is also thrown into the mix with a large pinch of psychedelia. Modern production values mean that sounds are distinguishable from each other. The drum and bass are also much tighter, and bring some welcome constriction to the guitar drones.
But enough with the comparisons. The album itself is a good listen. The songs are well written, and the guitar work is skillful. This is more than just your usual continual hum with low vocals. Oh, and there’s that great album opener “Start the Cycle”, which takes it further into Sonic Youth territory (OK, I guess one more comparison).
First printed on ThePlugg.com