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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Gig review: Nadia Reid

I just witnessed one of New Zealand’s finest musicians play a gig which couldn’t have been any lovelier.

Nadia Reid – “she’s NZ’s answer to Joni Mitchell” I read. I pondered. That’s a big call – could it be true? After last nights show at Meow I can confirm, she’s definitely on the right track!

Tonight we were taken on a journey of her life as she told stories through songs from her brand new album Preservation and her 2015 debut record Listen To Formation, Look for the Signs.

Reid, a folk musician from Port Chalmers, has wisdom in her music you don’t naturally expect from a 25-year-old. Whether you’re foot tapping to a gentle melody or closing your eyes to soak up a crooning ballad, the lyrics come through so clearly and are hauntingly relatable. I accept that the fact I’m the same gender and incredibly close in age to her might make that last line seem redundant, but I don’t say it without genuine consideration. I feel certain Reid’s music connects with a wide audience because she writes with sincerity and performs the songs with a rare vulnerability.

Tonight her candid and sometimes hilarious tales behind the tunes particularly took me. “Now can I sing you a song about going home to stay with my mum after a break up and sleeping in a single bed? Sleeping in a single bed really makes it hit home.” That was her introduction to a stunning rendition of Reach My Destination. She may have had us laughing, but she’d also got us thinking and reflecting, and as soon as she sang the first lines…

There is one main street in this town

There are two straight lines in my head

It goes on, it goes on forever

…I was mesmerised in a haze of magic metaphors.

Reid’s vocals are faultless. Numerous times tonight I likened her in my head to Laura Marling, not a note was missed, not a waiver was heard. The control she had over this instrument was showcased particularly well in her ode to Wellington, Hanson St Pt. 2 (A River) and her encore tribute to her mother, Some Are Lucky. In these songs she carefully moved to and from the microphone to get the perfect echo or the perfect fade of vocals. In doing so she created tender and intimate moments for the audience to savour.

But there’s more to her songs than her voice, Reid knows how to play a guitar. Her fingers glided across the strings picking with impressive ease. Acoustic tracks, performed with little or no backing, were played to precision with careful crescendos. Thicker songs, with her talented band backing her up, were still dominated by her carefully strummed melodies.

Tonight’s conclusion? Preservation is an album capable of competing against the best artists in the world, especially when brought to life in concert by this talented performer.

Nadia Reid – I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got.

 

(Sorry for lack of photos, phone through a tanty)