The word “shoe-gazers” appeared for the very first time in print in the May 25 issue of NME. It crept into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it down-page news article in the Sampled Notes column about Slowdive’s forthcoming Holding Our Breath EP and live dates. In it they were described as “hotly-tipped shoe-gazers” (with a hyphen, natch).
Soon after this, the s-word became the default description for the genre, all too often with slightly negative connotations. However, at least it meant the music press had settled on an appropriate adjective – until this point, they had used a number of phrases to try and articulate the scene and the sound…
They had almost touched on it the previous month, in a live review of Moose and Chapterhouse in Melody Maker, Allan Brown said of the former band: “What is it these boys have with their shoes? From the way Moose downcast their peepers you’d think armies of elves were using their Hush Puppies for trampolines”.
NME had also missed a golden opportunity in its March 23 edition when it had a two-page feature on the history of shoes in rock; no mention of any shoegazing, but a rather wonderful headline: “Nothing compares to shoe”.