The sound of Shoegaze is characterised by massive volume and distortion, but unlike grunge it also has an ethereal quality, creating atmosphere via extensive used of guitar effects and a less aggressive vocal style. It can be described as neo-psychedelia as the music uses layered melody and sheets of sound to evoke a dreamlike state leavened by sonic effects.
The term Shoegaze has its own history and mythology, but most agree that the tendency of the musicians, particularly guitarists, to be focussed on their instrument and a bank of effects pedals at their feet gave the impression of both deep immersion in the music and a disinclination to posture for the audience.
The key album is generally considered to be Loveless by My Bloody Valentine (released in 1991, the same year as Nirvana’s Nevermind). Other significant artists include The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Ride and Lush. Cocteau Twins are sometimes included too, although they are more frequently considered part of the Dream Pop movement.