Cut Through The Noise: The Neighborhood, Maggie Rogers ft. Del Water Gap, SZA


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Kate Schneider

Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role as writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.


The Neighborhood – ‘Stargazing’ ★★★★☆

Fair use from Columbia Records.

“Stargazing” is one of four new songs included on the deluxe version of the Neighborhood’s latest album “Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones.” They also recently released a music video for the single, with appearances from some big celebrities like Jaden Smith, Alexa Demie and Devon Carlson, lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s girlfriend. Although “Stargazing” isn’t my favorite song off an album full of hits, it is still a great, fun and upbeat start for the songs that follow. The track starts off with an interesting beat that becomes more powerful with the vocals throughout the first verse leading up to the chorus. The end of the song slightly mirrors the start with an instrumental part that builds up and then fades out in the last few seconds. “Stargazing” highlights Rutherford’s vocal range from the lower and raspy vocals of the verses to the high notes in the chorus. The lyrics have a lot of meaning about the band almost rebranding itself as Chip Chrome and the Mono-Tones for this album. Some of the lyrics of “Stargazing” talk about how successful the band’s first hit “Sweater Weather” was and feeling like future music won’t measure up. So Rutherford created the new persona of Chip Chrome as a way to create and perform in a new and different way. Overall the song is a great addition to the deluxe version of an already successful album.


Maggie Rogers and Del Water Gap – ‘New Song’ ★★★★☆

Fair use from Debay Sounds LLC.

Rogers recently released a collection of songs she recorded between 2011 and 2016, and on it, she joins together with Del Water Gap to record “New Song.” Because it was recorded years ago, Rogers’ voice lacks some of the maturity seen in her debut album, “Heard It In a Past Life” from 2019. She still has a beautiful voice and conveys the struggle and heartbreak very well. I really enjoy the addition of Del Water Gap to the song because they have a very similar musical style to Rogers, although at some points the transition between their parts feels a little choppy. “New Song” is written to be a conversation between two people which can be seen through the switching between singers without a chorus before they join together at the end of the song. This style adds a lot of meaning and complexity to the song. “New Song” seems to be between two people struggling in a relationship and then in the last couple of minutes, they come to terms with the fact that they don’t work together. Rogers does a great job making the music and vocals match the meaning behind the song, with the guitar staying slow and constant throughout the verses and building in intensity and volume as the song starts to end. Overall, “New Song” does a great job of highlighting both Rogers’ and Del Water Gap’s talent while also making their voices blend together to tell a story.


SZA – ‘Good Days’ ★★★★★

Fair use from Top Dawg Entertainment.

The release of SZA’s latest single “Good Days” on Christmas Day was a great surprise for fans, since it was only the second single after her debut album “CTRL” came out in 2017. “Good Days” is a very peaceful song with some very nostalgic instrumentals. The song starts with what sounds like birdsong and children chatting in the background. Soon after, we hear SZA’s vocals come and they really begin the song. “Good Days” is in line with the rest of SZA’s work with the balance of joy and heartache within it. Throughout the song, she takes listeners on a journey looking back at a relationship that feels very personal. Especially in the chorus, SZA’s vocals do a great job of conveying sadness while still keeping the peaceful sound intact. And later in the song, it seems to take a more optimistic turn, like she’s had a change in perspective and is looking forward. “Good Days” showcases SZA’s signature style that can’t really be placed into a specific genre with its twists and turns that show her raw emotions.