The most obvious element of the shoegaze scene is the fuzzy, distorted lo-fi feel that covers just about every song in the genre. But an aspect that is just as important, if not often overlooked, is the poppiness.
According to spell-check, that’s not even a word. But it’s definitely a key ingredient to any good shoegazer song. Because without it, you’d just be left with something closer to metal or punk.
One band that seems to value that pop element more than most is Film School. The San Francisco-based quintet can certainly stare at its Chuck Taylors with the best of them, but it also knows how to churn out a catchy hook.
Lead singer Greg Bertens (aka Krayg Burton) formed the band in the late ’90s and has been its only constant ever since. With the help of members of the bands Fuck and Pavement, he put out Film School’s debut, Brilliant Career in 2001.
Bertens had an entirely new cast of characters alongside him by the time the band put out a self-titled release in 2006. The album is full of great, indie rock songs with slow pacing, some dreaminess to them and definite shoegaze and post-punk elements. Besides the above-linked “Breet”, other notable tracks are “Like You Know” and “11:11″.
It wasn’t until the release of Hideout the following year that Film School really turned the corner musically. And it’s no coincidence that this transition occurred after great upheaval in the band’s roster, when three members were replaced. The most notable addition was the band’s first female member, bassist Lorelei (Plotczyk) Meetze, whose vocal presence helped give the band a totally different dimension.
On Hideout, the musicianship seems much crisper than earlier offerings, and it translates into several more standout tracks. The opener, “Dear Me”, sets the stage for a livelier experience. It’s followed by such other strong entries as “Sick Hipster Nursed By Suicide Girl”, “Two Kinds”, “Go Down Together” and “Plots and Plans”.
Film School continued to build on their sound and, in 2010, produced their best album to date with Fission. There is no filler among the 12 tracks, and things once again start off strong with the opener, “Heart Full of Pentagons”. Other notable ditties are “Meet Around 10″, “Distant Life” and “Find You Out”.
It’s been 2.5 years since that release, and fans are psyched for some more music. But, judging from the band’s website, there will be nothing new any time soon.