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:
Attending Glastonbury 2014 was the best life decision I’ve ever made. I had a magical time on most counts, but there were a few things I wish people had told me before I went. Not only that, but I feel like I now have some invaluable advice from my amazing experiences, so here is my Glastonbury guide for those attending the 2015 festival:
Don’t get gumboot rash:
I made a rookie decision with my choice of gumboots. As I was travelling from New Zealand I wanted to allow room in my suitcase so I didn’t pack any, I planned to buy them there. But arriving in London the day before Glastonbury, there was a bit of a gumboot shortage. During a wild hunt through Primark for matching sizes I hastily bought the first pair I could find that fitted. Oh how I wish I invested in Hunter gummies after one day in these cheap ones, I was itching and raw around the tops of the boots in no time. By day five this had turned into full on gumboot rash, the symptoms aren’t pretty and they hurt like heck so AVOID at all costs! Do this by buying knee-high gummies, in the upper price range, and don’t forget decent socks! Don’t wear cheap cotton ones that slip down like I did, invest in some good, woolly knee-high socks. Follow this advice and you’ll be safe from the horror of gumboot rash.
Carry appropriate clothing for all types of weather:
The Glastonbury site seems to have its own climate. It is truly the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had with weather. Within one hour I went from being sunburnt dancing in my summer dress to huddling in a circle in torrential rain with thunder and lightning striking right above us. In this case, the storm that hit was so extreme that Rudimental’s set was cancelled half way through with no warning, they were just forced to walk off stage. Not only this, but there are so many people at Glastonbury and very, very few places to shelter. So instead of going inside like normal people would in a thunderstorm, we had to stand in the middle of an open field and just take it. We grouped together and braced ourselves from the elements as best we could for a good 20 minutes. By then our clothes, which were covered with raincoats as well as ponchos, were drenched and I had a wee swimming pool in my gumboots. The weather changes so quickly you have to be prepared. Have a spare pair of socks in your bag, have more than one poncho and don’t only rely on your raincoat, but also, don’t forget the sunblock!
Make time to explore the festival site:
Even if you took away the music acts, Glastonbury would still be one of the best festivals around. For starters, the event site is massive, I reckon in the five days I spent there I only visited about 40% and half the places I went I wished I had more time to go back and keep hunting around. All over the show there are the expected things like markets, bars and workshops, but wait, there’s more – you’ll find giant stone tables like something out of Game of Thrones at which you’re expected to play drinking games in a ridiculous fashion, and tents in which you can learn to make anything you’d need at a festival, e.g. floral headbands. Some of my favourite discoveries included:
-The music tent at the Park where there’s a piano and various percussion instruments and everyone grabs what they can and takes part in a massive singalong. Hey Jude and Wonderwall went down a treat during my time there.
-Block 9 is a digital music fans heaven. Here there are a number of bars with top DJs frequenting and it’s like a bizarre hidden world. The architectural design of the pop-up buildings alone is mind boggling. Last year one of them even had an old tram cart hanging through the side of the building like it had crashed through. There’s a tranny bar, NYC Downlow, which gives everyone a stick-on moustache upon entry and so much more. Shangri La is along the same lines, a magical place in which you never know what waits behind each door.
-The vibe at the Stone Circle is fantastic. This Stonehenge-like hillside spot gives you a great view over the whole festival site. Not only that but at night fires are lit and people congregate here in a chilled out and friendly fashion.
Attend every event marked ‘TBA’ on the timetable:
Everyone knows Glastonbury is famous for its surprise acts and your festival experience won’t be complete until you come across one. My friend and I were checking out George Ezra when we heard the whisper ‘apparently the Kooks are playing this stage next’. I thought it seemed too good to be true so pulled up the stage timetable on my phone, the next slot wasn’t scheduled, it simply said ‘TBA’. My friend and I could hardly contain our excitement at the possibility. When it came to the end of George Ezra’s set and the screens before us flashed up that the Kooks were on next, true fan-girl madness set in. An indescribable excitement came over me. It was just the best feeling realising I was about to see one of my favourite bands live for the first time and it was all because I was in the right place, at the right time. The best surprise ever.
Take warm bedding, ear plugs and a sleep mask:
Five days at a festival, no matter how much fun it is, will exhaust you. For that reason, getting the best nights sleep is very important. I didn’t do very well at this because I wasn’t prepared. It gets absolutely freezing at Glastonbury in the middle of the night. Make sure you take warm pyjamas, lots of blankets and have a mattress that’s well raised from the ground e.g. an air bed. With loud music reverberating across the whole festival site 24/7 I’m sure you can figure out the use of the ear plugs! But a sleep mask would be something I wouldn’t forget, especially if you’re from little NZ and don’t know about Englands long days in summer. It doesn’t get dark till about 11pm and the sun is up from approximately 4am. I learnt this in a bizarre fashion one night when I got up to stumble to the toilet and couldn’t believe it was morning time already, I could’ve sworn I’d only slept for about an hour. Well I had, it wasn’t 7am like it felt, it was actually only 4am. We all know sleep ins in a tent are impossible with the sun shining in to blind you, well at Glastonbury that happens most of the night, so a sleeping mask will be you saviour.
Make friends with strangers:
Some of my most special memories of Glastonbury were in the times I left my friends and went to see a set on my own. Every time I did, I ended up having a blast bonding with strangers about our love of a certain act and it was magic. My experience watching Arcade Fire was enhanced so much by the lovely English family who took me under their wing. They shared their home-brew drinks with me as we danced like mad things across the hillside. At the end we shook hands and went our separate ways, you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face during the walk back to my campsite, I’d had such a good time.
Buy a portable phone charger:
This is a simple tip, but it will make a big difference if you follow it! There’s so much cellphone activity on site that your battery will drain flat fast and you don’t want it to run out because then you won’t be able to take photos and videos galore and getting in touch with your friends will become tricky. There will be a phone recharge service on site, make this one of the first things you do when you get to the festival and you’ll be glad you did.
Try and end your Glasto experience at the John Peel Stage:
Last year the last act we caught was London Grammar at the John Peel Stage. They were amazing, I was so stoked we were going to end on such a high note, but it got better yet! The stage MC came out after their gig and announced it’s John Peel Stage tradition to finish the festival with one particular song. On came Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York and the tent came alive. Everyone sang the song in an over-animated fashion whilst kicking the mud about as they marched out of the tent. It was glorious! The perfect way to finish the festival and I highly recommend you get yourself there to enjoy the experience yourself.