deardarkhead – Oceanside: 1991-1993

January 01, 1970

(The Shoegaze Archives-Captured Tracks)


New Jersey’s history in the
vortex of popular music is primarily acknowledged for its contributions to the
realms of Top 40 (Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi), classic rock (Bruce Springsteen, Patti
Smith), heavy metal (Overkill, Skid Row, Dillinger Escape Plan), punk (The
Misfits, The Bouncing Souls, Titus Andronicus), hip-hop (Redman, The Fugees,
Naughty By Nature) and indie rock (Real Estate, Vivian Girls, Julian Lynch).


But beneath all of these
macro-sized elements to the sonic story of the Garden
State existed a small-yet-essential sliver of
the international shoegaze movement of the early 90s spearheaded by South Jersey’s deardarkhead. Their sound, a unique hybrid
of cascading guitar fuzz and atmospheric dreampop inspired by the likes of Chapterhouse, The Pale Saints and Echo and the Bunnymen, was
indeed a refreshing reprieve for alt kids down the shore who didn’t quite fit
in with the hardcore and punkabilly cultures that largely provided the
alternative to an area overrun with guidos and gamblers.


Released as part of the
Shoegaze Archives, a new reissue wing of the ever increasingly prolific Captured Tracks label headed by Mike Sniper Blank Dogs
that’s dedicated to overlooked shoegaze acts from the 80s and 90s, Oceanside: 1991-1993 is a definitive young
person’s guide to the early days of this still-active Atlantic County
outfit. Though it oddly omits the inclusion of their seven-song cassette debut
from 1988, Greetings From The Infernal Village, this 14-track collection
brings together material that comprised the band’s trio of EPs from the era,
those being 1991’s Spiral Down and Vibrate, 1992’s Melt Away Too Soon and 1993’s Ultraviolet, and converts it into the classic 120 Minutes full-length
they never got around to making until 1998, when they released their classic LP Unlock The Valves of Feeling (also highly due for a reissue, Mr.
Sniper, if you are reading).


Though they never reached the
heights of national acclaim that much of their brethren in the New Jersey music universe have enjoyed, deardarkhead
nevertheless are a group well worth looking into, especially if you are a fan
of Bush 41-era modern rock. And there is no better place to start than this
handsome and impressive second dispatch from Sniper’s Shoegaze Archives.


DOWNLOAD: “Fish,” “Surf’s Up,” “Rollercoaster,”
“Strobelight” RON HART

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