November 3, 2008

What happened to them? My Bloody Valentine

This week, we're going to do a series of "What happened to them" posts where we'll pick artists who used to be huge players in all facets of the music scene but haven't been seen on the main stage in a while. We'll do a little bit of history, talk about what kind of impact they made, and then we'll talk about where the members are now. If you have any requests for artists that you want us to post about, just comment or e-mail us. I'll start off with My Bloody Valentine...


MBV was one of my absolute favorite bands and, coincidentally, influenced a lot of my favorite bands ranging from the Smashing Pumpkins to Sigur Ros. The group formed in 1984 in Dublin with the two founding members being guitarist/vocalist Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. After gigging around Europe, the band finally settled in London and solidified their lineup with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe. MBV were huge pioneers of the shoegazing genre using guitars as textures and vocals as reverb-based instruments.

I have to admit, I was not very impressed with the group's first LP release, Isn't Anything; however, it was the first release by MBV that was really well-received by critics and firmly established the group as a shoegazing band. It was their second LP release that is almost unanimously considered to be the group's masterpiece: Loveless. Several rumors were spread that the album almost bankrupted the label because of Shield's perfectionist intentions which, consequently, made the price of producing the album skyrocket (it was rumored to have costed upwards of £250,000, but Shields denies this). After listening to Loveless, I can see why. Every single sound is perfectly handcrafted and beautifully placed. I'd venture to say it's one of the top 5 albums of all time in terms of production techniques. Whenever somebody asks me what shoegazing is, I tell them to go get a copy of Loveless.

Unfortunately, Loveless failed to perform well commercially; it never charted in the United States. MBV began work on an album, but halted the production in 1996. Since then, the band hasn't released any material and the group disbanded. The popular reason behind the lack of material is because Shields thought that he could never make anything as beautiful as Loveless ever again. Fortunately for all of the MBV lovers, Shields announced in 2007 that the band was reuniting and plan to finish the album they had put on hold since 1996. The group performed a series of live shows in London and New York and, with any luck, we'll see the new MBV album out by early next year.

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