Maggie Rogers “Heard It From A Past Life” Album Review

Heard It From A Past Life

Sharing her life story through strategic songwriting, Maggie Rogers rises to fame as her debut album “Heard It From A Past Life” continues to dominate the charts.

Appearing on festival lineups like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and the 50th year anniversary return of Woodstock, singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers is on her way to the top. The 24-year-old pop artist experienced her rise to fame immediately after sharing her song “Alaska” to Pharrell Williams during a masters class at New York University. She wrote and produced the hit song in under 15 minutes, and blew away one of the worlds most renowned producers. While I had heard many amazing things about this young, female artist, I had yet to listen to her debut album, Heard It From A Past Life.

After researching her past, I found that Rogers grew up playing the harp, piano, and guitar all by the time she was in middle school. Her heart has always been in folk music, and the banjo was her primary instrument of choice. She fully kicked off her songwriting career during the summer of her junior year after attending Berklee’s College of Music program and won the program’s songwriting contest. Maggie is a hardworking individual who always put her best foot forward and has never tried to be anyone but herself. 

With as many as 4 million monthly Spotify listeners, Maggie Rogers has already made her mark on the world. As many of my friends continuously rave about her music, I decided to review Heard It From A Past Life from start to finish.

Opening the album with her song “Give A Little,” Roger’s introduces her audience to a light and somewhat dainty beat. She is combining her background of folk music with pop and indie styles of production. The song’s chorus is heart-warming and simple, radiating Haim-like catchiness.

Overnight” is next up, fitting perfectly as she reflects on how quickly things can change overnight. In this track, the synths were made from the sounds of glacier frogs, holding true to her creativity and strong connection to nature.

The Knife” has a unique intro that sets the tone to let loose and enjoy life to the fullest. “Beautiful as it all pours out, after dark, after life” are lyrics that prove her purpose of this song to dance and be free.

Alaska” is the song that gave Roger’s the success she needed to get this album started. The video of Pharrell’s initial reaction to this song fully shows the emotion and creativity behind her songwriting, and it is a beautiful video every fan should watch.

Light On” is another heart-warming track that features light guitar and strong vocals. I can hear the emotion and soul pouring through her voice as she shares her struggles with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed by her own thoughts.

Past Life” is a ballad that focuses on the changes that are about to come and take over her life. The slow piano combined with her stripped vocals are enough to bring fans to tears by the end of it.

Say It” combines Roger’s love for electronic production with her love for nature as she uses synths and vocals to paint a picture of the Alaskan mountains and snowy hilltops. She sings about the innocence of having a crush, “every evening, every time, I keep replaying in my mind, and wondering if you do the same.”

On + Off” features smooth bass lines and layered percussions, representing the layers shared within a relationship with someone you love. With an incredibly groovy and catchy chorus, this unique track has to be one of my favorites thus far.

Fallingwater” has an off-beat tempo that captivates listeners from the start, then moves into a vocal progression that might catch you off guard. This track has emotion that takes her voice to new heights as she sings about the challenges of change.

Retrograde” tells the story of struggling between wanting to stay in a dream-state all day, and wanting to give up when things get hard in our everyday lives.

Burning” mixes clapping beats with face-tased percussion as Rogers jumps around vocally as well. This track gives listening to illusion of running through the wild, emphasizing the wild ride relationships can take you on.

Closing the album with “Back In My Body,” this track perfectly showcases her story-telling abilities through songwriting. She talks about her time in London and Paris and the emotional impact those cities have had on her life. This song is powerful, majestic, and the best finale to an incredible debut album.

Final Thoughts?

I am now a full-on Maggie Rogers fan. Initially, I thought that her pop and folk styles of music would turn me away, but after researching her story, reading her lyrics and the meanings behind them, and hearing her creativity pour through her music, I have become pleasantly surprised. It’s no wonder that Heard It From A Past Life reached #2 on Billboard’s charts following the release of the album. Roger’s has never tried to copy anyone’s style; she is unapologetically herself at all times. Her story telling abilities are something truly special, and I can already tell there are big things in store for her future.

Written By: Brittany Roach

Behind the Mic: The Flow w/ De Leon

Mikel De Leon

In this segment of Behind the Mic, we examine the wild life of thrill-seeker / adventurer / local lunatic, Mikel De Leon!

A gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) has been bestowed upon Mikel De Leon: the need to always be doing something that increases his heart rate. It drove him to pick up soccer when he was 4 years old. Then surfing. Then, in November of last year, he bought a motorcycle.

Two months later, his body was lying in the middle of the freeway after being struck by a car.

“All I could think of was ‘Get up, get back on your bike, go home. Tell your dad you’re sorry. Everything’s ok,’ ” De Leon said about the incident that sent him to the hospital. He couldn’t get up, though. He didn’t have the physical strength to collect himself despite not feeling any pain, because his body had already gone into shock. Miraculously, to his (and his doctor’s) disbelief, he didn’t break any bones or even damage his brain. He did, however, injure his ankles, knees, shoulders, left wrist and lower back. Now, he’s grateful to be recovering at a relatively quick pace, but in all honestly, he just wants to surf again.

“I’m just like ‘Come on, I want to get back in the water. Let’s go!’”

Mikel De Leon

Mikel (MEE-kehl) De Leon is the host of “The Flow with De Leon,” which airs Thursdays at 8 a.m.

Although De Leon won’t be getting back on a motorcycle any time soon (or hopefully ever considering he’d like to be alive as long as possible and healthy enough to one day teach his future children how to surf), he’s still finding ways to scratch his adrenaline-seeking itch. At first, soccer scratched it for a while, but he began to lose interest in it after over a decade of playing. He wanted to replace it with something equally athletic to keep the weight off. The activity would also need to be peaceful and leave him in a serene mental state.

Mikel De Leon being the coolest cat around.
Photo by Monica Vigil. Coolness by Mikel De Leon

Surfing fit the bill.

“Surfing was just like, dude, everyone loves a surfer. Of course I’m going to get into it. It turns out, it’s not like that. But it’s ok. As long as I’m out there with my friends surfing, that’s all I care about. As long as I catch at least three good waves per day, I’m good.”

Mikel De Leon

Since the accident, De Leon hasn’t been able to surf and as a result, he’s been growing impatient to return to the ocean. He currently lives in Imperial Beach, a sandy, laid-back beach city in southern San Diego, just a hop and a skip away from the sea. Beforehand, De Leon would wake up every morning and make his way to the water with a surfboard in hand to catch a few waves before school or work.

“Sometimes I wouldn’t even shower because the waves were that good. I’d go straight to work and they’d know. They’d be like ‘Dude, there’s sand in your ear.’”

Mikel De Leon

His life appears to come in seasons, packaged up in different themes depending on the chapter. Sometimes he’s a chill surfer, a passionate soccer player, or even a temporary motorcyclist.

Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.
Photos by Monica Vigil. Long, soft hair totally by Mikel De Leon and genetics.

And now? He’s a radio host.

His brother attended Georgetown University and had a late night radio show at his college station. De Leon remembers listening to it and deciding he wanted to do that one day. One day after he transferred to San Diego State University from Southwestern College, he saw a sign promoting KCR and the rest has been a joyful, musical ride. His show heavily features groovy indie sounds like Homeshakeand Yellow Days, peppered in with bedroom pop. Want to tune in and listen to a combination of Beach Goons, Temporex, Minor Gems and Oak Palace? Do it! He’s plays them all.

What’s unique about “The Flow with De Leon” is that many episodes are themed (kind of like his life). One episode was full of music he would play if he owned a low-rider, featuring oldies, cholo goth, cumbia and the iconic Selena Quintanilla. He’s also had some dirty rock and reggae days, amongst many others.

An avid consumer of music, De Leon has even begun singing and creating his own tunes.

“I started off doing stupid, little, fun projects where I wasn’t taking it seriously,” he said. His friends, however, told him that he was good. He began to experiment with genres and searched for his sound in pursuit of turning the fun hobby into something more serious. Influenced heavily by Tame Impala, he plans on releasing an EP sometime in the summer. De Leon is implementing a deadline on himself or else he’ll “never release it.” He watched a short documentary about the singer of Tame Impala, Kevin Parker, and how he also had to give himself deadlines or else he would never publish his music, always trying to perfect it. It inspired De Leon to try the same approach.

“I need to set a date because if not, this is going to be a never ending cycle.”

Mikel De Leon

Be sure to listen to his shows and start your Thursday mornings right. You never know what theme you’ll stumble upon. Also, come summertime, remind him that he’s got an EP to release.

His favorite modern band?

Tame Impala (duh.)

Feel free to follow Mikel De Leon on Instagram. You can listen to his Spotify playlists here and here.

Written by: Monica Vigil

Noname at The Observatory North Park

Noname

This past Saturday, March 16th, Noname performed at The Observatory North Park in San Diego.

This was Noname’s last stop of her North American Room 25 tour, celebrating the release of her second album, “Room 25.”

The show started off with another Chicago based rapper, Elton. Before, I had never heard of Elton, although seeing him on stage performing made me want to know who he was. Elton brought a certain charisma that drew you too him. He performed with such energy and mojo that made the crowd want to vibe to his music and incredible voice. Elton got the crowd grooving with him throughout his performance, clapping along to his songs, chanting with him, and snapping to the beat. At one point, Elton even began crowd surfing. Elton displayed a certain amount of control with the audience, talking or moving then the crowd reacting back to him. Towards the end of the performance you could see how Elton brought out the audiences’ energy, as he got the whole place grooving with him.

After Elton, the lights slowly dimmed until all you could see was the luminescent sign on back of the stage shining bright saying, “ROOM 25,” while the whole crowd began to scream waiting for Noname to come out. Suddenly, the music began and out came Noname singing along. She was incredible, and you could see that she was having fun as she performed on stage talking with both the band and the audience. Whereas a lot of artists seem to put on a front, Noname seemed to be genuine, acting like her “true” self.

She performed songs from both her first debut album, “Telefone” and her latest album “Room 25.” She even performed her recently released single “Song 31.” It was beautiful hearing her perform, the amount of talent that she displays as a lyricist and artist is incredible. Hearing her perform her songs and the crowd singing along with her made for a fun Saturday night. Everyone in the crowd grooved along with the music and the amazing flow, talent, and comfort that she displayed on stage made you want to sit back and enjoy the show.

Sadly all great things have to come to an end, after the show Noname left the stage and the theater went dark. Fortunately, she came back to perform one more song after everyone began to scream out “Encore.” After finishing out the night with her last song, Noname said her final goodbye and thanked San Diego for coming out for seeing her that night. And thus marked the end of her North American Room 25 Tour.

Written by: Sam DeLeon

Cautious Clay at House Of Blues

Cautious Clay pushes musical boundaries and captivates listeners at House of Blues San Diego‘s own Voodoo Room.

When I first discovered Cautious Clay, I was instantly drawn to the unique richness in his voice. Each song I listened to seemed to get better by the minute. Later, I learned that Cautious Clay was no ordinary alternative R&B artist. Josh Karpeh is the man behind it all. He’s a singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who coined the name “Cautious Clay” after Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay. The all-in-one musician remains unsigned and continues to defy boundaries in the name of music. Karpeh attended George Washington University to study jazz saxophone and has continued to use his classically trained background as a tool to push boundaries. By keeping a “minimalist” mindset when writing his songs, Cautious gets to explore the line between keeping his music simple and clean, while making it powerful and touching.

While many listeners are drawn to his beautiful harmonies and catchy beats, the stories he tells through his lyrics is what I believe puts him above the rest. Following the release of his first EP, Blood TypeCautious was interviewed by Billboard Magazine, whom asked the musician what he hoped his listeners would gain from this EP. He responds, “I would like my listeners to be more intentional with their time and the people they hang out with. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who are worth your time. I know that’s really heady and deep, but that’s what the lyrics are about.” Since then, Cautious Clay has appeared on tracks with notable artists like AlunaGeorge and Hudson Mohawke, and recently linked up with electronica star, Medasin, to produce his newest single “HONEST ENOUGH.”

After months of playing his songs on repeat, I felt it was only fitting to attend his concert in San Diego. The concert was hosted in the Voodoo Room at the House of Blues, and while the venue was smaller than I had anticipated, it made the experience even more intimate.

Opening with a fan favorite, “Elsewhere,” I could feel my heartrate increase with only the first few chords. Cautious expressed to Billboard magazine that this song was written about his struggles with student debt and the inability to escape tough situations, which is something that many listeners are able to relate to. I was originally drawn to this song because of the unique mixture of electronica and indie production combined with his soulful harmonies, but it is the honesty behind his lyrics that kept me hitting the repeat button.

While I was personally disappointed by the energy in the crowd, Cautious Clay maintained a steady stage presence that kept me on my toes. After pulling out a saxophone and flute for songs such as “Stolen Moments” and “Call Me,” I became only more captivated by his talent.

Following the performance of some of his most popular hits like “Blood Type” and “French Riviera,” Karpeh asked the audience to give a round of applause to his bandmates before they momentarily left the stage. As he pulls out his acoustic guitar, the crowd starts to settle down before Cautious performed an unreleased track off his upcoming EP. The song was slow, but far from boring. This ballad was deep and emotional, and will soon touch the hearts of listeners alike.

I am eager for the release of his upcoming EP, Table of Context, as well as his return to San Diego in the future. My hopes for his next tour is that the crowd is more respectful and attentive to his stage presence because my expectations unfortunately fell short this time around. While his performance was still honest and true, I believe that an audience within his age range would be more courteous to the passion he poured out on stage. All-in-all, there are many big things in store for Cautious Clay this year. Although he’s already killing it, I’d say that he is just getting started.

Review By: Brittany Roache
Photos by: Brittany Roache