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2011′s Heroes & Villains: Hype Fulfilled and Squandered Potential

As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012 with our open minded hungover arms, here at Strictly we are going to give you a recap of all those bands that were tipped for big things in 2011, did they fulfil there potential?

Were they as successful as 2010 hyped them to be? Of course this feature is not only about the bands of 2011, we have included bands who were successful previously but who were considered to take the next step in 2011 (The Horrors), whether that band is brand spanking new or just relatively fresh, we’ll be talking guitar facts and press reaction, not personal likes and dislikes…And don’t worry this post will not include any Adele loving, she will never play Reading and Leeds, or any festival for that matter (so she says). Simone F

Wait…so that means I can’t pick “Royal Farking Albert Hall” Adele? Oh well I wasn’t going to talk about her anyway, but a few bands on my list might not play Reading in future, as I take a glimpse at the world beyond Simone’s indie. David Hayter

The Heroes

The Vaccines

UK Album Chart Position: 4

The Vaccines ended 2010 with NME hype even bigger than the New Yorkers The Drums, and a huge first come first serve first gig in London at The Flowerpot, which saw crowds queuing around the block, more than enough were declined entry. Inside was buzzing with music types and the London cool kids all awaiting to see the London’s very own Strokes. The set was short and sweet, and within a puff the band were gone, not before musing the crowd away with catchy boyish guitar charm and body heat from the room.

After a phenomenal year of hardcore world touring, playing pretty much every festival going, the band endured a bad spout of throat infection leading The Vaccines to cancel parts of their America tour, but my, The Vaccines  were by far are the most hard-working band of 2011.  What Did You Expect From The Vaccines is currently the fourth biggest selling debut of the 2011, behind the usual pop stars of Jessie J, Ed Sheeran and  Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

The Vaccines ended 2011 with two sold out Brixton shows, and of course topped our readers poll for best new band at Reading and Leeds 2011. Simone F

Watch The Throne

UK Chart Position: 3

Before I was made the re-launched Strictly Reading and Leeds Editor, at the end of 2010, I was busy writing 2011 previews for 411mania/music, and the one question we had to answer over and over and over again was; will the Kanye West & Jay-Z album live up to the hype? Back then, I said no, I thought the innovative sonic wonderland that Kanye created on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would be stifled by Jay-Z whose recent releases had spawned big hits but lacked innovation and excitement. To make matters worse the awful single “H.A.M” was all we had to go on, sure saying “Hard As A Motherfucker” is a lot of fun, but the track was horrid.

Suffice to say, I was 100% wrong. Watch The Throne ended up becoming a walking meme. An album of off the wall creativity and imagination, that saw two of the world’s biggest stars having a whale of a time while Kanye laid down some mind blowlingly intricate and imaginative beats. The samples were sick, the beats sublime, but it was the stupidity that stole the show; “This Shit Cray”, “Going Gorrilas”,pratically everything Kanye & Jay said went viral, and unbelievably, “Niggas In Paris” became so popular, that they rewound it up to EIGHT TIMES live, with each new version being more bananas than the last.

Nothing about this collaboration was supposed to work, it should have been vile; two multi-millionare rappers telling us how loaded they are, how many hot “bitches they own” (classy Kanye), and how much better they are than everyone else, but far drawing the hate of the downtrodden masses, Watch The Throne was the escapist fantasy we were all looking for. David Hayter

The Gallagher’s 

Beady Eye: 3

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: 1

We all know about bitter bad mouthing in the press, but it would have been impossible not to have featured the Gallagher brothers in 2011′s heroes section. Together they were one of the biggest guitars bands, separately they were just as well received. Beady Eye went to number three while Noel went straight in at number one. The facts do not lie, the Gallagher brothers are still in demand, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds went onto become the third biggest album of the year while Different Gear, Still Speeding is the sixth. Simone F

James Blake

UK Album Chart Position: 9

In 2010 pretty much everyone, myself including, was raving about James Blake; yes I was one of those complete tools telling everyone and their mother (I did actually send my mum a few MP3s) that they had to hear Klavierwerke and CMYK. Like most of the dance loving indie world, I had “CMYK” on repeat and was tipping James Blake to be the greatest thing since slice bread.

It didn’t quite end up that way for Blake. So much excitement surrounded his dub step production, that we’d almost failed to notice how insular and bleak Klavierwerke was. In hindsight, Blake’s transition into a full fledged post-dub step singer songwriter should have been obvious, but “I Never Learnt To Share” still took us all by surprise. Dub Step fans decried his wimpy approach, indie cynics picked apart his limit songwriting scope and his repeated studio tricks, but it couldn’t dampen the public appetite as James Blake shot straight into the top 10. Behind the critical mud slinging, Blake had penned some of the year’s most beautiful songs (“Unluck”, “Wilhelm Scream”, “Lindisfarne I & II”) and stolen the hearts of fans who would never have dreamt of listening to minimal electronica before. David Hayter

The Horrors

UK Album Chart Position: 5

No one was really prepared for how much more experimental The Horrors third album Skying was going to be. Gone was the scary loud in your face sound, replaced with more melodic, charming, and more ambiguous sounds. Yes, The Horrors are not brand new, but why not include a band that walked away from 2011 smiling…all that hard work paid off. The Horrors headlined the Festival Republic stage on a high, they brought the loud guitars and they brought other band members on stage, The Horrors were Reading and Leeds this year. Simone F

Katy B

UK Album Chart Position: 2

Katy B ended 2010 as a Reading veterans when she joined Magnetic Man on stage as they tore the dance tent to pieces with a blistering version of “Perfect Stranger”. Back then Baby Katy was preparing to front a Rinse FM LP project, but at some point during recording, someone with half a brain sat up and said “my God, this girl is the next big thing”. The project was soon turned into a Katy B album, and she knocked it out of the park, penning a series of relatable tracks that captured the feeling of working your way through London at night, falling in love with music and the club scene. The hooks were supreme, the production modern (with knowing nods to the 90s), and the hits were sublime. If it weren’t for Adele, 2011 would have been the year of Katy B. David Hayter

Bombay Bicycle Club

UK Album Chart Position: 6

Bombay Bicycle Club went back to their roots on A Different Kind Of Fix the acoustic Flaws guitars were replaced with the electric guitars from I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Every album Bombay Bicycle Club release brings another huge wave of genres to compress, and in 2011 A Different Kind Of Fix saw BBC go dark. BBC went on to play Reading and Leeds for the fourth time to the NME crowd of at least 25,000 festival goers, the tent holds around 18,000, people got crushed. Simone F

The Weeknd

UK Album Chart Positions: n/a

Mixtapes don’t chart in the UK, but what a year The Weeknd had. After posting some enticing offerings at the end of 2010, few could have expected not just one mixtape, but a trilogy of brazen albums that showed more progression, innovation and intent than most artists manage across an entire career. House Of Balloons was the initial gambit, and it remains his best and most influential work, but the gloomy conflicted cocaine comedowns that littered his hypnotically submersive debut remerged on Thursday and exploded into life on Echoes Into Life’s stunning album opener “D.D.” David Hayter

Common Ground

WU LYF

UK Album Chart Position: 98

After producing such an exciting debut album (Go Tell Fire To The Mountain) there is no way WU LYF could have been considered a failure, but considering how much empathises was placed on their advertising campaign and how lauded their guerrilla marketing became, we expected more than a lowly 98 in the UK chart. Everyone from Pitchfork and NME to the Guardian and The Culture Show backed this band, and they never quite caught on. Still, what do we care if they made money, they made some truly intriguing music. David Hayter

Foster The People

UK Album Chart Position: 24

The indie bashers had hoped that the album Torches would not turn out to be a reflection of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, in my eyes the album did nothing but reflect its signature hit, every song was a rip off. We understand the formula works well, but at least try and want to achieve something greater, having said that, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is a great cross over song, but the world wanted more. Simone F

Cults

UK Album Chart Performance: 133

Cults garnered a huge amount of hype in Pitchfork circles as “Go Outside” started to catch on as a hit right at the end of 2010, but the band truly came into their own in 2011. Original started as a joke among friends, at their first UK date at The Lexington the band were clearly uncomfortable, albeit entirely charming, on stage – they didn’t seem destined for pop superstardom. But while stampeding across stage was never going to be their thing, they managed to craft a whispily enticing LP with real menacing undercurrents that earned Cults a solid fan base. Not an outright success but not a failure either. David Hayter

Tyler, The Creator

UK Album Chart Position: 21

Tyler and Odd Future entered 2011 as one of the most hyped bands in the world, and left it with a mix of bad press, diehard fanboys, and critical indifference. Their arrival at South by South West and the Camden Crawl was spectacular, one of the greatest live events of the year, with bodies flying, punches thrown and stages invaded, but sadly for Tyler, despite some excellent moments, his album failed to live up to Bastard  and only served to give critics all the ammunition needed to pick the group apart. David Hayter

The Villains 

Funeral Party

UK Album Chart Position: 37

Funeral Party had the  opportunity to become more than the just an LA cool band, they ended 2010 being placed in the bands to watch in many lists, come 2011 the question on everyone’s lips (or nobody’s lips) was ‘who are Funeral Party?’

Live they were awesome, other times not so great. Funeral Party have the party tunes, but listening to the album The Golden Age Of Knowhere  after more than the one listen is actually quite boring and tiresome. The UK opened their doors for Funeral Party, just more than shamed the band did not grace such.

Viva Brother

UK Album Chart Position: 34

Viva Brother started this year with the ”big we are” motto, they may not have delivered to the same phenomenal results are their hype brothers The Vaccines, but I blame Viva’s ability not to be quiet and let the music take them places. Their personality’s lead then to become the hit boys of the year, easy targets who dressed and thought they were part of the 90′s lad/brit pop revival. At first they wanted to be the Gallagher brothers, only for one the brothers to slag them off (nothing new there). They toured America, Europe, Japan and the UK for the past year, working hard to get there name out there and to prove that they are just more than mouthy lads from Slough. Brother became Viva Brother during their first set at Glastonbury, they later went onto play Reading and Leeds, which the boys said was ‘f**king brilliant.’ Viva may not have lived up to their own hype, but they stole the hearts of many people wherever people like them or not.

Started with The Vaccines ended with Viva Brother, the two bands that got the critics talking for both the good and bad reasons, All press is good press, or so has been heard. Simone F

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