Top Five Albums of 2017

  1. Nadia Reid – Preservation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jN1BfSLbzg

Without a doubt this is the album I listened to most throughout the year. Folk musician Nadia Reid has crafted an album of such a rich quality that I’m blown away by something new with each listen (been on constant repeat since its March release so that’s saying something). The thought and care that has gone into each melody, each lyric and each performance is remarkable to hear from such a young Kiwi artist. With shades of Laura Marling and Joni Mitchell, and a live act to match, Nadia Reid is destined for great things.

Must listens: Hanson St Pt. 2 (A River), Reach My Destination, Richard

2. Lorde – Melodrama

I don’t think there will be many album of the year lists that Melodrama doesn’t feature on. On first listen I was underwhelmed (I still don’t quite understand the obsession with first single Green Light, I find it dull compared to Lorde’s other offerings), but I persevered because I’d been a huge fan of her 2013 album Pure Heroine. Boy am I glad I did, Melodrama is a dazzling album which presents the mature version of the 21-year-old. Her unique sound is more refined with clearer vocals and her intelligent lyrics are raw and paint a vivid picture in your mind. It’s the sort of album it’s hard to turn off, I always want to listen to it in its entirety.

Must listens: The Louvre, Perfect Places, Supercut, Liability

3. London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing

The London Trio have once again written an album of songs designed to send a chill down your spine. There is no other vocalist around currently with a voice as pure, or a range as extensive, as Hannah Reid’s. Her vocals are enough on their own to take your breath away (as demonstrated on first single Rooting For You), but when layered with the modern base tracks created by band mates Dot Major and Dan Rothman, they’re utterly brilliant. An album hard to ignore.

Must listens: Hell to the Liars, Big Picture, Trials, Oh Woman Oh Man, Rooting For You

4. Arcade Fire – Everything Now

I’m convinced if you played this album to anyone they would suddenly find themselves in the mood to party. Arcade Fire have simplified their alternative sound a bit on Everything Now, many true fans are angry at them for the more mainstream sound, but I still bloody love it. These tracks are short and sharp with funky beats and hooks that instantly make you tap your feet and groove. The lyrics are still trademark Arcade Fire quirky, the vocals are still sung with the usual intensity and overall it’s just a damn good listen.

Must listens: Creature Comfort, Everything Now, Sings of Life

5. The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful

For anyone who loved The Killers in their Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town heyday – Wonderful Wonderful was one of the most exciting albums to come out in some time. After the first listen I punched the air with joy – my favourite rock band during my teens are back with a vengeance! This album is pop-rock heaven, it is up-tempo, with catchy lyrics and unforgettable singalong style choruses. It makes you want to dance like a mad thing and puts an instant grin on your face. This is fun rock music and listening to it makes for a bloody good time.

Must listens: Run For Cover, Life To Come, The Man

It was hard to pick the best five this year, other notable mentions include:

  • Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
  • alt-J – RELAXER
  • Lydia Cole – The Lay of the Land
  • Thomas Oliver – Floating in the Darkness
  • Aldous Harding – Party
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Concert Review: Paul McCartney

56724314-7468-4ACC-82D6-784595964CC9.jpegThe afterglow of a Paul McCartney concert is a feeling I’ve craved for many many years, and now the moment has arrived – I can say it’s a better feeling than I ever could have wished for.

Last night I witnessed three hours of pure magic. The superstar played the most epic set you could ever imagine, so good I was brought to tears multiple times.
Every time he finished another hit, I needed to pinch myself because I knew there was still so much more to come.

The 75-year-old proved why he has earned such a huge reputation by performing with more stamina than any other artist I’ve seen live. He never tired, he only got stronger as the set went on, and that’s no easy feat when you play and sing with as much enthusiasm as he does!

With a back catalogue like his, I always knew we were in for a show with many, many singalongs. But I can’t imagine ever again feeling the fulfilment I felt last night when we got treated to this run of songs in a row: Something, A Day in the Life, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Band on the Run, Back in the U.S.S.R, Let It Be, Live and Let Die and Hey Jude. It was a bloody musical miracle – my voice was shot and I couldn’t breath from dancing so hard by the end of that run.

McCartney is a man with some stories to tell, and he had the crowd enthralled spinning tales about cab rides with the Rolling Stones, taking musical advice from the legendary George Martin and acknowledging those missing. Particularly poignant moments in the set included John Lennon tribute song Here Today and a stunning rendition of George Harrison’s Something.

Other highlights for me included Blackbird – played and sung to perfection and a delicate acoustic I’ve Just Seen a Face. But really, it was a night full of highlights. It’s not often you still want the artist to keep playing at the end of a three hour set, but in this case I was desperate to listen all night long.

The Abbey Road medley was the perfect closer to a night I’ll always remember. Paul McCartney is an artist of the highest caliber and last nights concert was the best I’ve ever been to.

Bucket list ✔️

Concert Review: alt-J

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Last night I was swept up in the romanticism of alt-J. The moment the first chord of 3WW filled the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington I knew we were in for a treat and things only got better from there.

The British indie rock group performed to perfection last night, I couldn’t fault a thing, their set contained everything you want to get from a gig. Their set list was well thought out with a perfect mix of light and shade between the hand clapping, base thumping, upbeat numbers and the slow builders which had an almost symphony like feel to them, despite being produced with a purely modernistic sound.

The light show timed perfectly to match their beat focused music was simplistic yet mesmerising. Their crowd communication, was limited but this worked well because I felt like I was party to a true stage show and the songs were speaking well enough for themselves.

The new album RELAXER was showcased brilliantly with new songs interspersed amongst the old favourites. Not that I would have cared if they played new music start to finish- I think these tracks really stood out and proved the three uni mates have come along way from their first offering. Pleader was the track our group raved and raved about all the walk home, Deadcrush was easily my pick of the faster paced tracks played during the night and In Cold Blood picked up one of the better sing-and-dance-alongs of the night.

The unique vocals of lead singer Joe Newman were dominant over the loud base music and he didn’t miss a note. Gus Unger-Hamilton’s backing vocals are the perfect compliment and he and drummer Thom Sunny Green played the complex, layered and loud songs to perfection. The bands ability to perform their complicated songs such as Every Other Freckle, Bloodflood and Fitzpleasure to such a high quality live is testament to their true musicianship. There is a lot going on in most of these songs, but every element was always heard by the crowd and no songs lost their momentum or blurred.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is the crowd – that is the best gig audience I have been a part of in a long time. There was no talking through every song, everyone there was fully invested and I think the band recognised that. They did seem to mention coming back to Wellington many times!

I feel privileged to have witnessed alt-J at their best last night, certainly a concert to remember!

 

Song of the Week – To My

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To My – Tess Goodwin 

A talented friend of mine has given up her day job to pursue her dream of being a full time musician, and judging from her first release, I reckon she’s got the talent to do it.

My song of the week is To My by Tess Goodwin from New Plymouth, now living in Wellington. If you’re a lover of ballads with lyrics you get caught up in, then this is a song for you.

To My takes you on a journey. There are many different parts to the song which make you stop what you’re doing and pause and reflect. It starts out with just her haunting vocals and a barely there piano melody, but before long Tess builds in new layers which mean when the chorus arrives the song becomes uplifting and really packs a punch. A clever and modern bridge changes the tempo and draws you back into the message of the song, before it really takes you home with a passionate second chorus.

Tess has a great vocal range and she showcases it wonderfully in this song. But the thing that stands out most to me in To My are the lyrics and the way Tess tells their story with the raw emotion in her voice. Listening to this song you know you’re getting the real her and it is very powerful.

Tess’ song writing technique and her sound are unique and fresh in a time when so much of the music we hear on the radio sounds the same. Tess is off to a great start in her music career with To My and I can’t wait to hear more from this new Kiwi musician.

Follow her on Spotify and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TessGoodwinMusic/

You can also listen on Bandcamp: https://tessgoodwin.bandcamp.com/track/to-my