Arts and Entertainment

“How Did You Get That Sound, Kevin?”


Kevin Shields performing live

“Literally, the first song I ever did using it was a song off the You Made Me Realize EP called Thorn” said Kevin Shields in reference to his unique playing style in an interview with Fender. My Bloody Valentine is a 1980s and 90s Irish shoegaze band and their name is unanimous in the underground, held highly by those obsessed with noise and everything chaotic, and the man behind that noisy guitar on stage in none other than Kevin Shields. Shields started MBV as nothing more than another garage rock band in the early 80s, but in 1988, the year the aforementioned EP and debut album Isn’t Anything came out, that he found his illustrious sound, the glide guitar. This sound is achieved by manipulating the vibrato arm of a Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar (or any number of knockoffs) so that the vibrato becomes fixed at a comfortable height so you can freely strum the guitar and bend the strings at the same time. But it wasn’t until 1992, when his masterpiece Loveless hit record store shelves and rock nerds’ ears alike that he’d become an indie legend. So legendary that the reverberations are still being felt today since they reunited in 2007 after ten years apart. On top of that their influence was felt almost immediately post-Isn’t Anything with many bands drawing heavily from their glided harsh sounding guitar such as Chapterhouse, Ride, and Slowdive.

Lilys – In the Presence of Nothing

One such band, Lilys, were even across the pond in Washington DC feeling the effects of MBV. One journalist from All Music, Jason Ankeny, is quoted as saying that Lilys debut album, In the Presence of Nothing was “the quick follow-up to Loveless that My Bloody Valentine never made.” To add to that, MBV’s influence is being felt in the modern underground rock scene, too, in bands like DIIV, Yuck, and Crushed Beaks. Another oddity in that scene is Pinkshinyultrablast from Saint Petersburg, Russia with a journalist from Overblown stating that “the high-pitched cooing vocals of Lyubov Soloveva, not unlike those of Bilinda Butcher […] peak just above the cauldron of noise.” Their track Holy Forest off their second album Everything Else Matters reminds me very much of MBV’s track Blown a Wish, the reverb glossed guitars, and the dancing vocals, its beautiful and heavily inspired by MBV.

Slow Glows debut EP Star Trail

It’s not only the national scene but Cincinnati’s very own local scene too. I got in contact with Kelli Redding, front woman and principal songwriter of local shoegaze band Slow Glows and asked her about their debut album Stargaze Rock n Roll and how Kevin Shields had an influence on her song writing and guitar ethos. “My favorite thing about them is the importance of melody in their songs. Most people think it’s all about the noise and the effect pedals, but they really have some stellar songwriting buried underneath all of that.” She’s right, Shields songs, while laden in noise and effects, they are melodic, and extremely well written. So, when it comes down to it the influence is even more far reaching than the bands that seek to emulate their sound, but at the same time who doesn’t love a little chaos?

About Samuel Wulfekotter

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