New Music Reviews: Maggie Rogers, Melody’s Echo Chamber, and Shearwater

This week we have new music from Maryland singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, the dreamy pop of France’s Melody’s Echo Chamber, and the mellow, textural indie rock of Shearwater. Enjoy!

Maggie Rogers

Surrender

2022, 9/10
Maggie Rogers delivered an impressive debut with 2019’s Heard it in a Past Life. It included ‘Alaska’, a song that went viral on the back of a Pharrell Williams reaction video. Rogers has raised the bar with her second record, which pretty much does everything you want from a sophomore effort – it’s more confident and more expansive. It comes off the back of some time away from music for Rogers – in 2021 she attended Harvard Divinity School, where she was “studying the spirituality of public gatherings and the ethics of power in pop culture.”

She’s brashly confident on the single ‘Want Want’, where she adds a pop edge without sounding contrived. Rogers is a gifted vocalist, and her soaring melodies on songs like ‘Honey’ and ‘Horses’ allow her to shine. Rogers is assisted by Kid Harpoon, a Kent-born producer who’s also worked with Jessie Ware, Harry Styles, and HAIM, and he helps her capture a range of sounds and emotions, from the lush R&B flavoured ballad ‘Begging for Rain’ to the tough guitars on the sparse closer ‘Different Kind of World’.

Surrender has proved a successful second outing for Rogers, peaking just outside the Billboard top ten – she deserves stardom with her vocal and songwriting chops.


Melody’s Echo Chamber

Emotional Eternal

2022, 7.5/10
France’s Melody Prochet released her first album as Melody’s Echo Chamber in 2012, collaborating with then-partner Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. Emotional Eternal is the project’s third album, with her musical career interrupted by a serious accident in 2017 and now sharing time with motherhood. Prochet’s dreamy pop is lovely, recalling the tuneful and textural work of Stereolab. She also told Under the Radar that Sigur Ros’s use of the EBow was another influence on her sound.

Prochet’s motherhood is reflected in ‘Alma: The Voyage’ – it was the first song written for the project, inspired by the first night she spent apart from her new daughter. The Stereolab influence is most prominent here with the joyous melody, and it re-energised Prochet after some time away from music. There’s psychedelia in Melody Echo’s Chamber DNA as well – the buzzy rush at the climax of ‘Where the Water Clears the Illusion’ is one of the record’s best moments. Her primary collaborators on Emotional Eternal are Swedish musicians Reine Fiske (of Dungen) and Fredrik Swah – the pair began the gorgeous jangle of ‘Personal Message’ without Prochet during lockdown.

Emotional Eternal is gorgeous, Prochet finding solace in motherhood and the natural world.


Shearwater

The Great Awakening

2022, 7.5/10
Texan band Shearwater began as a spinoff project from indie band Okkervil River, founded by Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff for the quieter songs they were writing together. Meiburg, who has a master’s degree in geography with a focus on ornithology, took the band’s name from a family of seabirds (which includes The Mutton Birds). The band are known for their attention to texture – The Great Awakening, their ninth album, incorporates recorded sounds of toucans and howler monkeys.

Inspired by Bowie’s late 1970s albums like Heroes, The Great Awakening is divided into two sides, with the gentler second side almost entirely devoid of drums. The gorgeous moodiness and usage of acoustic textures recalls Talk Talk albums like Spirit of Eden – Meiburg’s voice resembles Mark Hollis.

Shearwater are a recent discovery for me, and I’m as yet unsure how The Great Awakening compares to their eight previous studio records,but they’re lovely.

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11 Comments

  1. These are all new artists to me. For the most part, that also still is the case with my weekly new music review. Maggie Rogers sounds intriguing to me. Of the three albums you highlighted hers would be the one I’d be most curious to further explore.

  2. I only know the Maggie Rogers song “that’s where I am” from the new album. It’s great. Thanks for the post!

    • It’s worth hearing me – I think she hits a nice balance between accessibility and self-expression, and pop hooks and organic sounds.

  3. I really like Maggie Rogers too, especially her songs “Love You For A Long Time”, “Light On” and “Alaska” from her first album, and “That’s Where I Am” and “Horses” from ‘Surrender’. But I just don’t care for “Want Want” for some reason. Melody’s Echo Chamber and Shearwater are both new to me, and I like the tracks you included. I have a B.A. in Geography, so am intrigued by the fact that Jonathan Meiburg has a masters in that area of study. I listened to more of ‘The Great Awakening’, and its songs are fascinating and enchanting.

    • Most of the songs you named are on the list I’ve been making of my favourite Maggie Rogers tunes. I’ve been going back and listening to that compilation of earlier stuff that she released in 2020 – it’s actually pretty good.

      • I think she got a Grammy nomination for that. Likely she will get nominated again this year. (Not that I pay much attention to the Grammys anymore.)

        As you point out she attended Harvard – like your boy Dean Wereham. People either like or don’t like that fact, but it shouldn’t really affect anything. The music is the music.

        Lots of good stuff this year. I think I slightly prefer the new Holly Humberstone album, but both are great.

  4. I wanted to hear what Melodys Echo Chamber sounded like cuz you say it sounds like Stereolab. And I like Stereolab. I think it only sounds a little like stereolab and mostly because she sings in French. And it also sounds a little like AIR the way it’s all floaty and dreamy and stuff. She sings like a lot of girls that you hear on French records. I love hearing singing in French. It isn’t really a good language for rock but it’s really good for other things. It’s good for certain electronic stuff and pop. Not that I speak French but I just like the way it sounds. A long time ago I bought one of those Learn a New Language things where its supposed to be easy to learn a new language at home, but it wasn’t as easy as they claimed so I never used it. Maybe I should have taken French in high school but I took 3 years of Spanish instead. But I still don’t understand it when someone comes up to me and starts speaking Spanish. I can understand it pretty good when I read it though. Same thing with Italian, and even though I took one year of Italian in high school and 100% of my grandparents were from Italy I still can’t speak it. The only words I know are the ones that I used to hear them say around the house, and that was some kind of dialect Italian. Lmao. I learned a little bit of French from Stereolab records though cuz there was a website where they’d translate it.

    • Speaking of French, the new Phoenix album is ruling the Indy charts in NA. Also they are playing the second Maggie Rogers Song witch is a bit harsher then “that’s where I am” but I like it so far.

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