BILINDA BUTCHER & KEVIN SHIELDS
If you were to credit any one band for creating shoegaze – or nu-gaze, dreampop, or whatever the hell defines a huge wall of guitar effects where individual elements like ‘distortion’ or ‘reverb’ no longer have any meaning – it would be Ireland’s finest exponents of sheer tooth-rattling volume. Sure, their early records owe a transparent debt to Sonic Youth (the holocaust break in “You Made Me Realise” is pure Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo pre-Geffen chaos), but by the time they started their notoriously epic, Creation Records-bankrupting work on what was to become their magnum opus, 1989’s Loveless, they had become something truly unique.
Butcher’s musical contributions to the album were minimal – this was Shields’ baby from the outset, for all three years it took to make the thing – but that bitumen-thick guitar tone, made almost entirely of overdriven amps pushed to their capacity, and especially Shields’ seasick-inducing use of tremelo (listen to “Soon”, where he and Butcher play pretty much the same chords, but Shields swoops upward to each one). Every wall-of-noise band owes them a debt.