The Sweetest Shoegaze Beats in Kalamazoo

Shoegaze—a genre whose most marketable assets included fiduciary hedonism (Kevin Shields's ego hueing Creation Records' budget figures a rich crimson), stage fright, and rhythm-less swirls of cautious feedback—barely exceeded an e-bow's hum during its late-'80s–early-'90s non-U.K. "heyday." Yet despite its lightning-in-a-salt-shaker run, shoegaze was just as reactionary a musical movement as punk—swap H.W. Bush for Carter, Major for Callaghan, 'gaze for punk, and pop for prog, and we're greasy-mane-deep in false (but telling) oppositions and dull-ass records. So, aside from the Deftones (who bettered My Bloody Valentine's entire output with White Pony), who exactly listened to this shit?

"Big in Kalamazoo" seems the best slogan shoegaze managed, as the debut album by Michigander Mike Dykehouse (his real name) pairs MBV drone with basic pop tenets such as rhythm, tune, and songwriting. Recorded entirely on an iMac (Alan McGee chokes back vomit), Midrange is all mood, coating post-disco pop in go-long-then-sing production. With so many simultaneous counterpoints—Dykehouse's sublimely confident voice (live, the dude covers "When Doves Cry" wonderfully), blatant pop melodicism (check the bratty "Chain Smoking"), and cloying detachment ("Signal Crossing" )—Midrange graffitis the obvious signposts, getting off scot-fucking-free. Think affordable.

 
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