Meet the newgazers

The footprints of shoegazer greats My Bloody Valentine and Ride have proved challenging to trace, with their progeny's missteps often deteriorating into a disjointed, if a bit arty, mess.

Notable among the followers was the Southland's now-defunct Lassie Foundation, a reluctant carrier of the torch that flashed brilliance on two albums (1999's "Pacifico" and 2001's "The El Dorado LP") and a handful of EPs. The band married luxuriant guitars and loping bass lines to candy-coated melodies topped, improbably, by falsetto vocals, producing a distinctively West Coast sound.

Several emerging bands seek to mine shoegazer territory. Here's a look at a handful of releases:

The Stratford 4, "Love & Distortion" (Jetset, due March 18) -- The Bay Area band's follow-up to its formidable 2002 debut, "The Revolt Against Tired Noises," buzzes with the best elements of Ride, with laconic vocals countered by undulating sheets of feedback and sweet melodies. And in L.A. club shows last year, the foursome showed it could replicate its sound live.

Voyager One, "Monster Zero" (Loveless, released in January) -- This Seattle quartet takes an art-rock tack, coating its slightly synth, unhurried anthems with dark waves of distortion. Liberal sampling gives the band's second album the extraterrestrial feel of the mid-'90s work of New Zealand's Bailter Space.

Phaser, "Sway" (Emperor Norton, released last week) -- Light on the guitar assault and heavy on the reverb, this Washington, D.C., quartet stays the dreamy course taken by shoegazer-

influenced bands such as the Verve.

Snowdonnas, "Over Now" (Ballyhoo Withdrawal, due March 25) -- Sticking more to classic song structures, the debut by this Austin, Texas, foursome recalls the mid-tempo melodiousness of the Catherine Wheel.

-- Kevin Bronson

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