The 2018 Laneway Awards

The best of the bunch award:

5E275313-DB0D-42BB-AC59-CAD5BEF2B566.jpegWithout a doubt this has to go to the mesmerising Father John Misty. J. Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes, blew me away with his captivating performance of his hilariously honest songs. The indie style ballads translated brilliantly on stage, I was compelled from start to finish. Although Tillman barely uttered a word to his crowd, he was engaging and hard to take your eyes off. His voice was faultless, and had an incredible strength and tone. Backed by a wonderful band, it was hard not to love this set as he played songs like I Love You, Honeybear, Chateau Lobby #4 and Nancy From Now On.

The ultimate groover award:

2442A6C8-D0F4-46B1-8F09-3C2544C2799B.jpegLondon rapper Loyle Carner’s set was fun in every way. The Brit seemed quite impressed he had so many people there to see him and his humble and friendly conversation with the crowd was so endearing. Add to that the fact that his slow style, jazz influenced rap music is fresh, funky and a bloody good time to groove to – how could this set not be a favourite of the day!

The dud stage award:

My groups gripe of the day was the terrible sound quality at every set we saw on the Rotunda stage. How could they not sort it out !? It was so frustrating, at every act we checked out there during the festival we were immensely disappointed. All of the artists I was most excited to see played this stage – and they all put on great shows – the problem wasn’t them, the problem was that we just couldn’t hear them.

Laneway organisers needed to recognise they had an issue early in the day and fix it, instead we felt angry as we couldn’t enjoy the acts we came to see. I am pissed off that half of Billie Eilish’s vocals went unheard (not to mention that she was 20 minutes late on stage as they did sound tests), the Internet were inaudible, so much so that I found myself talking the whole way through their gig, and as for Anderson .Paak – today I’m feeling truly gutted. This was the act I was immensely excited to see, the act who is famed for his live performances, the act who easily had the biggest crowd of the festival – and I walked away halfway through the set because I couldn’t hear it. How much of a bummer is that? Hope organisers sort this before next year!! (And hope he comes back to NZ to play a solo show.)

The up and comer award:

This without a doubt goes to Australian modern rocker D.D Dumbo. His snazzy and contagious guitar riffs, clever use of percussion and epic vocals are something else! We started the day at his set and were bloody glad we’d made the call to venture into the glaring sunshine so early in the day. Oliver Hugh Perry and band were charismatic in their flawless performance and Perry involved the crowd with funny anecdotes including a swipe at himself for choosing the name D.D Dumbo – “we all make mistakes”. With a voice which regularly reminds me of Sting, paired up with a fresh indie sound, this guy has a winning combo and I highly recommend you check him out.

The sass award:

B4823080-BA73-4679-803C-A29C2C596024.jpegDespite sound issues doing their best to completely ruin Billie Eilish’s set, the talented US teen was still a show stopper. She raunchily danced around the stage, encouraged the crowd to shout out obscenities and then asked her Mum who was watching side of stage to take a picture of the crowd. It was hilarious and sassy in every way. But most importantly her vocals were spot on and she had the crowd dancing away in the direct sun – not an easy feat considering most people spent the day trying to find shade, shade and more shade. A ukulele style cover of Drakes Hotline Bling went down a treat and seamlessly transformed it into Party Favor which was an epic singalong. Pretty bloody good for a 16-year-old!

The voice award:

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Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso – wow what a voice! I have always thought she sounded amazing on record, but live she was just epic! The British electronic pop pair were a compelling act. After some intense time in the sun we decided to sit in the shade to listen to their set – of course that didn’t last, we were compelled to venture back into the heat and dance away to the magical sound.

The best boogie award:

Canadian indie legend Mac DeMarco had me dancing like a mad thing. His groovy tunes and hilarious chatter made for a delightful early evening set. I twisted my feet and hips in slow grooves and sang my heart out to bangers old and new like Salad Days, On the Level, This Old Dog and many many more. Shit it was a good time!

Overall, it was a bloody good festival wth great music as always – bring on 2019!

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Song of the Week – Won’t Hurt

Won’t Hurt – The Venus Project

I feel like this is a fitting song of the week given the current climate worldwide in the fight for women’s rights and respect. Georgia Nott – one half of NZ sibling duo Broods –  has released the first track from her new solo focus The Venus Project.

Nott’s time in the world of music has made her realise how men dominate the industry, as they do many other working industries across the globe.

“I think there comes a point where you stop just thinking it’s normal and you start to realise that, actually, this is kind of f*cked that I’m the odd one out all the time,” she told Harpers Bazaar.

It was that train of thought that inspired her to create The Venus Project – an album put together entirely by women.

Won’t Hurt is the first single from the new album, which is set to be released on March 8, International Women’s Day.

It is a stunningly well put together track which showcases the epic vocals of Nott, whose vocal abilities I’ve always felt were slightly lost in the synth heavy Broods numbers.

It begins with warped vocals (interestingly they almost sound like male vocals with the distortion), a gentle keyboard and soft layers of strings which form together to create an ethereal sound. In come Georgia Nott’s spine tingling vocals and relatable lyrics alongside a mellow guitar riff, and the song is off soaring. It builds and builds into a more up-tempo pace with the introduction of a steady synth beat, and all of a sudden the track takes on an uplifting and powerful aura – particularly if you’re a woman listening and you know the meaning behind the track.

Won’t Hurt is not song that you’d have playing in the background. It’s a powerful number which demands attention – I can’t wait to see what else is in store from The Venus Project.

Top Five Albums of 2017

  1. Nadia Reid – Preservation

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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

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

 

Song of the Week – Run for Cover

Run For Cover – The Killers

The Killers were the band of my teenage years. They were one of the first I was ever truly obsessed with. In fact their name being on the Big Day Out line up when I was in fifth form was what inspired me to buy a ticket and thus sparked my eternal love for concert going.

These guys know how to write  a rock singalong. With songs like Mr Brightside, All These Things That I’ve Done and When You Were Young they set a high standard for the emo music era of the early 2000s. Their fun-style and upbeat take on rock made it accessible for any music lover and their electric live act ensured they were a band you’d never forget.

So, with all this in mind, you can imagine my excitement when they announced a new album was on its way this year after a decent hiatus. I wondered if they could still do it…did they still have the ability to produce a real timeless track? I never should have doubted them, Run For Cover is hands down one of the most entertaining and exciting songs of 2017.

There is no way you will be able to sit still while listening to this, it’s pure riveting pop-rock and I bloody love it. You MUST turn the stereo up really loud, or put your headphones in, to listen to this track. Be prepared to lose your mind slightly, it is just that good.