Review: Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers

Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie RogersI can’t imagine how it feels to be in Maggie Rogers’ shoes on that fateful moment when Pharrell Williams’ really enthusiastic reaction to “Alaska” singlehandedly catapulted her to must-watch status. After releasing an EP that pretty much aimed to capitalize on this, she took a bit of a break and now she releases a full-length that, arguably, is designed to better reflect who she is as an artist. You only see glimmers of that on Heard It In A Past Life, however. Thematically it’s there – I’m pretty sure there are references to the whirlwind past couple of years on it – but sonically it’s really all the same: a bit of folky soul (or soulful folk?) accompanied by the right amount of bleeps that should make it appealing to your typical supposedly indie-minded Spotify adventurer. Too harsh? I actually think, as pleasant as the record sounds, it highlights a problem with Maggie’s music: she’s not exactly sure where she wants to go now. There’s what her heart desires, and there’s what everybody seems to want – and so many other options in between. Perhaps that explains the assist from producer du jour Greg Kurstin, who at least continues the template but has made her music more anonymous than that “gold standard”, “Alaska”, has demonstrated. A little more time – and space – perhaps? [NB]3/5

Review: Now That The Light Is Fading by Maggie Rogers

Now That The Light Is Fading by Maggie RogersMaggie Rogers was no absolute newbie when, last year, Pharrell Williams’ reaction to an early draft of “Alaska” catapulted her to a new level of fame. She had released a bunch of EPs by then, mostly folk-y stuff, but she eschews that sound on her new EP, Now That The Light Is Fading. What we got instead is a short shot of occasionally tropical, often trippy, not at all in-your-face electro-pop. It’s quaint, it’s playful, and it’s fun if you hear it at the right moment. Essentially, if you’ve heard “Alaska”, you’ve heard it all. Even the relatively different prelude, “Color Song”, blends in all too well with the aesthetic of the rest of the EP. Now, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed: I did enjoy “Alaska”, and still do, and her other songs (two of the tracks here have been released as singles post-breakout) still give me a little grin, although they don’t stand out as much. I was hoping for some variation, though. Some texture. Alongside her EPs, yes, this is texture, but, you know, this was her moment – until a full-length record arrives and they pull the right strings, that is. [NB]3/5

earthings! 2016: My ten favorites of the year

Here we are again – the end of the year, or at least the end of our year here on earthings!, as we take that long holiday break to recharge, or whatever passes for that these days. And it’s been a busy year, or perhaps because we found ourselves juggling a lot of things on many fronts – lots of changes off screen, and a bunch of new features on screen. But I digress. Here we are again – the end of our year on the blog, which means I trot out my ten favorite songs of the year – not a definitive list by all means; just a reflection of what I’ve liked, considering that I seem to have listened to less new music and more K-pop these past few months. So, here’s the list, arranged alphabetically as always. [NB]

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“You and I, there’s air in between.”

“Alaska” by Maggie Rogers | Viral things don’t really get to me. I don’t seek them out. I don’t feel any convinced. Most of the time, though, I don’t get wind of them at all. Apparently Maggie Rogers got viral because of some sort of reaction from Pharrell Williams, leading to a crowd of wannabe tastemakers to seek her previous work out. Okay. That sounded snarky. I just stumbled upon her on German radio (not my current darling Nordwestradio, at least not yet) and it’s one of those songs that – yes, common theme – make sense at the exact moment I’m aware of it. It’s a quiet thing, this, the song that somehow got big and took this Maryland native to places she probably would have never thought of before. Now, to see if what she releases next will get the same kind of reaction. [NB]