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The Strictly Readers Awards Pt.II: The Year In Music

The Best Live Act In The World Right Now

5. Rammstein (3%)

Despite playing no major dates in the UK in 2011 it seems the memories of Sonisphere and Wembley Arena have our reader’s licking their lips ahead of their upcoming sell up show at the O2 Arena.

So for those who don’t know just why are Rammstein so good live? Well first Rammstein are bat shit mental, they’ll blow any and everything up, they’ll perform on travelators, they’ll ride dinghies across the crowd, they’ll drop huge vats of molten metal twenty feet, and so much more. Secondly, they have huge sing along anthems; “Du Hast” is practically a right of passage for live music fans, while “Benzin” is a crushing beast. If you haven’t seen Rammstein, go see them immediately!

4. Metallica (5%)

We suspect our Strictly Sonisphere fans had a lot to do with this selection, as the Metallica rounded off the a monumental day in British metal history, when they united Thrash’s Big Four (creating the Magnificent 7 in the process) on stage for a bruising rendition of “Am I Evil”.

Aside from that one moment of history in motion, the Knebworth crowd were treated to Metallica at the top of their game, firing out “Seek & Destroy” early and saving the brutal “Creeping Death” for last. The solos were big, but the sing alongs were bigger, as Metallica breezed through two hours of metal staples and newer favourites like the stampeding “All Nightmare Long”. In short, they’ve still got it – bring on Download.

3. Pulp (9%)

Wherever you saw Pulp this summer it was guaranteed to be a spectacular. I was lucky enough to see them three times, and nothing can quite equate to the sensation of seeing Pulp with 40,000 diehard fans at Wireless Festival. The band were sublime, but the real joy of the set came when you looked around and saw each fan wholly embracing an individual track as their own. Some belted out “This Is Hardcore”, others shed tears to “Something Changed”, and some laughed their way through “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E”, but everyone had their own unique moment.

This was the real Pulp crowd, Wireless was the first date announced on their comeback tour, these were the people who’d been waiting since day one, these were fans with sky high expectations, and Pulp not only delivered…they were better than we could have ever imagined.

2. Arcade Fire (15%)

Unfortunately, Arcade Fire ran into sound problems at Hyde Park, but it didn’t stop them from putting on one hell of a show and blowing people away at festivals across Europe. We all remember Reading 2010 and just how good it was, and many of use remember those two sensational dates at the O2 Arena, ultimately, there is something about an Arcade Fire sets that just lingers. Perhaps it’s the big band sound, or the theatrics and emotion of the compositions, maybe it’s that Win and Regine are such loveable odd balls, but something about this quirky collection of Canadians makes their live shows implausibly haunting. It’s a cliché to say it, but seeing Arcade Fire live, remains a religious experience.

1. Green Day (16%)

Ah Green Day, a band I haven’t seen for an absolute eternity, but apparently lots and lots of our readers have, and it would appear that you’ve all been absolutely blown away by the world’s biggest punk band. With an iconic commanding front man and an irresistible array of hits Green Day are custom made to make crowds stomp, clap, shout and scream in unison. This band gets playing live, there’s no two ways about it, there’s something almost coded into our DNA that makes us all fall victims to Green Days charms, they are an irresistible live force, if they play Reading next year, I dare you to stand still.

The Artist Of The Year

 5. PJ Harvey (4%)

PJ Harvey may have stayed away from Reading for a very long time but at heart she’s routed in the bleak alternative sound of R&L. Let England Shake was a masterpiece, a study of the British at war and a society founded upon bloodshed. She mastered the English folk tradition of the Wickerman and created a hauntingly beautiful album. Live she conquered both Bestival and The Royal Albert Hall, and picked up a second Mercury Music Prize, making 2011 her finest year to date.

4. My Chemical Romance (5%)

It’s no surprise to see MCR on this list, after a seemingly rocky start with disappointing sales of both tour dates and the Danger Days LP, controversy grouped around the band when they were announced as a Reading 2011 headliner. Many considered the one time emo-rockers to be on a career downswing, but come the festival, despite disappointing sales, they delivered a powerhouse spectacle of a set. Bursting with colour and energy, MCR gave Reading a much needed adrenaline rush after a preening set by 30 Seconds To Mars, starting the festival on the right foot with unmistakable style.

3. Skrillex (5%) 

The most hated man in Dub Step earned that nickname in 2011 as a generation of post-dub step stars were met with the backlash of the diehards. Katy B and SBTRKT escaped with credibility in tact, but Skrillex and James Blake were forced to take a vicious critical beating. Skrillex, particularly annoyed people, as Dub Step fans complained that he dumbed down the genre, while rock and metal purists cried “gimmickry” and “obnoxious nonsense”. Whether you agreed with the criticism or not, one thing was clear; Skrillex was the name on everyone’s lips, the apple cart had been thoroughly upset, and the most hated man in Dub Step was walking away with millions of fans in tow.

2. Frank Turner (10%)

Frank Turner did so much in 2011; big tours, small tours, one off dates, secret sets, sets to pop fans, sets to metal fans, set to rock fans, releasing a brand new album, and even squeezing in a strictly interview!

Frank’s work rate is phenomenal, but aside from releasing one of the best-loved LPs of 2011 and the brilliant “I Am Disappeared”, Turner’s other great moment of triumphant came at Reading. Having spent the best part of five years slowly working his way from the bottom to the top, Frank finally made his debut on the main stage in 2011, and suffice to say, he smashed it. Even if he probably felt a little more comfortable in the cosy surrounds of the Lock Tent, it was a sure sign of just how far this unassuming singer songwriter had come.

1. Pulp (11%)

Well this is the forth time I’ve had to write about Pulp, and while there’s little else to say, it does go to show just big an impact their return made in the UK. When there reformation was announced, it wasn’t met with the fervour that greeted the Blur reformation, it was milder, on a smaller scale, but it was more intense. Pulp fans are a tight knit bunch, and in 2011 Jarvis Cocker got the chance, not only to bring tears to the eyes of his long term fans, but to win over a whole new generation of indie lovers, and having stolen the show at every festival they played, we can safely say: mission accomplished.

The Best New Band

5. Spector (2%)

There wasn’t much agreement among readers in this category but the big hopes for 2012 Spector managed to just sneak into fifth position. With a storming set on the BBC Introducing stage and two massive underground hits “Never Fade Away” and “What You Wanted” under their belt Spector are ready to leap up the line up and steal indie hearts in 2012.

4. Yuck (4%)

Few scenes were more crowded in 2011 than the 90s alternative revivalists, but among the History of Apple Pies and Fanzines, Yuck managed to stand out, quite simply by having bigger and better songs than their peers. “Get Away” and “Holing Out” provided immediate and irresistible introductions and the subsequent album, while derivative, proved impossible to deny as one slick hook laden track followed another.

3. Tribes (4%)

Well this is a shocker, Brit Pop revivalists Tribes beating out fellow prospects Spector and the well established Yuck. Did Simone F spam the vote? She’s certainly been raving about them all year, and it seems over the course of the 2011 these likeable lads have become the new kings of Camden and Dalston with quick pop hits and shout along choruses. They’ll do well to avoid the fate of Viva Brother, but the future certainly looks bright for Tribes.

2. The Computers (6%)

The Computers burst onto the scene in 2011 combining ragged garage rock with traditional hardcore to create a surprisingly approachable sound that saw the band land on the FR Stage not the Lock Up. Aside from their effortless sound, the band possess remarkable style, and a quirky sense of humour. Normally dressed in unison, the Exter band favour sharp suits, and are normal dressed either head to toe in white or black. They can’t help but stand out, and with plenty of character and enthusiasm the band had no trouble winning over new fans at Reading.

1. The Vaccines (14%)

The Vaccines do the double. Did you expect anything else, having been named the best new band at Reading, they’ve also swooped the overall best new band category. How did they do it? Well they took a drunken straight down to business rock and roll swagger and combined it with a series of lightening fast yelpable hits, as “If You Wanna”, “Wreckin’ Ball (Ra Ra Ra)”, “Blow It Up”, “Wetsuit”, “Post-Break Up Sex”, and “Norgaard” soundtracked a year and helped to keep indie relevant on TV and in the charts.

The Album Of The Year

3. Suck It And See – Arctic Monkeys (7%)

The Monkeys fourth LP Suck It And See saw the band embracing the softer layered textures of sixties pop, while continuing to cultivate the bands rowdier rock’n’roll edge. “Brick By Brick” may have divided opinion, but “Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” was undeniably brilliant while “Love Is A Laserquest” proved quietly affecting and “Don’t Sit Down Because I Move Your Chair” became an overnight indie anthem. Suck It And See wasn’t an outright classic but it was a thoroughly satisfying development in Alex Turner’s ongoing maturation process.

2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (8%)

After taking a world of abuse from his brother Liam in the last 12 months Noel finally made his grand return at the end of 2012 with a new band and a new album. Not much had changed, the Noel Gallagher who penned “The Importance Of Being Idle” dominates …High Flying Birds, and while there were no Chemical Brother style experiments, there were plenty of familar Beatles illusions, Noel ultimately sounded like Noel. The quiet down to earth hit maker writing utterly charming and irresistible arena anthems like “The Death Of You And Me”, “AKA…Broken Arrow” and “AKA…What A Life”.

1. Wasting Light – Foo Fighters (19%)

If we’ve learnt one thing from our 2011 poll it’s that you really, really, really like Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters…and why the hell not?

2011 was a great year for Grohl, many laughed when the globe straddling millionaire claimed he was going to get back to his roots by recording on analogue equipment in his garage, but against all the odds, the subsequent album wasn’t an indulgent nostalgia trip into faux lo-fi, but visceral onslaught suitable for the stadiums. Grohl didn’t exactly sound hungry, but he did sound energized as he gave the Foos sound some frazzled edge without sacrificing the size or scope of his hits.

The Track Of The Year

 

3. Foo Fighetrs – “Walk” (2%)

The bounding “Walk” provided the Foo Fighters with a massive anthemic single and booming album closer for Wasting Light. Very much Foos by numbers, “Walk” was the kind of stadium conquering track that the Foos can write in their sleep, but it was brought to live with the desperate conclusion that sees Grohl rapidly screaming “I Never Want To Die” before the track’s big booming chorus returns.

 

2. Noel Gallagher – “The Death of You And Me” (3%)

This charming light ditty represented business as usual for Noel Gallagher with an obvious instrumental nod to The Beatles in a typical late Oasis head down waltz. “The Death Of You And Me” is an endearingly understated and under sung hit whose strength of melody adds a sense of scope that Noel consciously contain vocals deny. There are some brutally bad lines thrown it, but it’s Noel, we let him get away with these things.

 

1. The Vaccines – “Norgaard” (4%)

If this had been a top ten, six Vaccines tracks would have made the list, but it was “Norgaard” that made the eventual cut. It’s bristling Ramones guitars and indie fuzz help to make the tracl sound effortless; as if the band just stumbled into the studio and dropped the irresistible C86 style hook “Her Mind’s Made Up, She Don’t Wanna Go Steady, She’s Only Seventeen, So She’s Probably Not Ready”. Simple pop perfection.

The Gig Of The Year

3. The Killers at Hyde Park (5%)

Returning from hiatus, The Killers bizarrely joined Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart, for their second shot at headline Hard Rock Calling, and this time out, they absolutely owned Hyde Park, as Brandon Flowers led a 40,000 strong crowd in song. “Human” was deafening, “When We Were Young” triumphant, and “All These Thing That I’ve Done” undeniable; a job thoroughly well done.

2. Arctic Monkeys at The O2 Arena (11%)

The Arctic Monkeys’ two-night stint at the O2 Arena was beyond sublime, as the band appeared reborn. Jamie Cook’s guitar appeared louder and murkier than ever before, Matt Helders drumming was absolutely locked in, and Alex Turner was actually enjoying himself. That’s right, Alex Turner has finally embraced being a front man, starting sing alongs, getting the audience to compete with each other, and legitimately stepping up to the plate and being that big personality that stadium sized indie has been desperately lacking. Arctic Monkeys 2.0 may not be imperious on record, but they are invincible live.

1. Arcade Fire at Hyde Park (21%)

Despite running into some severe sound restrictions, Arcade Fire still managed to leave our readers jaws on the floor at Hyde Park. Showing that they’re no one trick ponies, Arcade Fire threw “Wake Up” out to kick star the set, saving the serene combination of “Keep The Car Running” and “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” for last before, sending everyone home dancing with glorious serenade to self expression “Sprawl #2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”. It may have been a little quiet, there may have been some hiccups, but Arcade Fire remain peerless live.

The One To Watch In 2012: Spector

Absolutely no surprises here, Spector have set themselves apart of firm favourites in indie circles, not only with multiple appearances on this list, but with a series of great performances up and down the country that mix enigmatic charisma with slick hits. Spector are the obvious hope for 2012.

The Best Brtish Band: Arctic Monkeys

Just piping Pulp, Elbow and Muse to the title Arctic Monkeys have had a phenomenal year. Alex Turner promised to defend rock music, and with blistering sets at V Festival and O2 Arena he showed that he certainly wasn’t joking, while new album Suck It And See saw the Monkeys expanding their sonic palette with a series of luscious 60s inspired arrangements.

The Best International Band: My Chemical Romance

Walking away with this category comfortably My Chemical Romance won over a lot of new fans at Reading festival, and if they didn’t quite conquer the charts as they had done before, they proved to everyone that they were capable of putting on one hell of a show. Laughing stocks no more.

 Best Solo Artist: Frank Turner

Turner absolutely ran away with this award, getting more than 50% of the vote and rounding off a year that saw the hard working underground star become a full blown pop phenomena. When the Million Dead called it a day, few could have expect Turner to fly this high.

Best In Rock: Foo Fighters 

Yet another award for the Foo Fighters who spent most of 2011 trying to get back to their roots, but found, no matter what they do, they’ll always be one of the biggest and most well loved bands in the world.

Best In Indie: Arctic Monkeys

The Monkeys just about do the double, beating Pulp by just one vote, to retain their indie dominance. No matter what direction the Arctic Monkeys take, one thing is certain, they are the face of indie in 21st Century, and if the O2 Arena was anything to go on, it appears Alex Turner is done running from that mantel.

Descendents Promo

Best In Punk/Hardcore: Descendents 

Having reunited for the first time in six years in 2010, the Descendents finally made their way to the UK in 2011, but it didn’t all go smoothly. Milo lost his voice two tracks into the band’s London return, ruining the show and leaving many fans disappointed. Thankfully, Reading was lurking around the corner and Descendents got the chance to redeem themselves in style up against Muse.

Best In Metal: Slipknot

Beating Metallica to the post by a hair, fellow Sonisphere headliners Slipknot got the chance to pay tribute to Paul Gray on the biggest stage of them all at Sonisphere. Their set was relentlessly fierce, and pretty much everyone in the crowd was wearing a Slipknot shirt or mask, it was an incredible show and a beautiful moment that helped Iowa’s finest to victor in our readers’ poll.

Best In Pop: Lady Gaga

Despite Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Katy B and of course Adele having huge years, Gaga won this award with room to spare. Born This Way was arguably the best start to finish album released by any pop star in 2011, and when Gaga wasn’t topping the charts, she was standing up for a variety of causes be it gays in the military or Japanese tsunami victims in a way that, for once, felt entirely genuine (I hope your taking notes Bono).

Best In Dance: Skrillex

This was another fiercely competitive category, but dub steps arch villain managed to defeat its prodigal son (James Blake) and indie’s electronic icons (Crystal Castles). Having resuscitated Korn’s career in 2011, Skrillex is set to step out in his own right in 2012.

Best In Hip Hop: Watch The Throne (Jay Z & Kanye West)

Despite Odd Future’s publicity blitzkrieg it was two of raps biggest names who stole the show in 2011 with a sensational album that managed to mix materialistic excess with reflections on how far black people have come, and how far they have yet to go, but more than anything else, their collaborative LP was just one hell of a good time. Now let’s all go Gorillas!

The Worst Band In The World Right Now: Black Veil Brides

This was a very competitive category for a very long time, but in the last few days of voting, BVB went on a massive run and swept the award. I’ve never actually listen to BVB, so I’m not going to rag on the band, we’ll let the award speak for itself.

Now I’d like to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who voted, we look forward from hearing from you all throughout the year.

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Author: david

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