The Best of 2011
2011 was a great year for music and it was very difficult for us to narrow down so many fabulous contenders to just one winner each per category, but here goes..!
James: 2011 was a great year for rock festivals. From Hammerfest at the start of the year right through to High Voltage, which for me is my choice for festival of the year. Bringing together an awesome lineup, I saw the likes of Slash feat Myles Kennedy, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest entertaining the masses on what had to of been the hottest weekend of the year.
Special mention has to go to Download Festival for having Rob Zombie on the bill as part of his first UK tour in 11 years. And of course Sonisphere Festival which saw Slipknot’s first UK performance since the death of their bass player Paul Gray.
Sian: I wasn't able to get to anywhere near as many festivals as I wanted to this year, but I want to give special mention to the two 'biggies' that I did attend: Bulldog Bash in Stratford-upon-Avon and Hard Rock Hell, in Prestatyn. BB saw an amazing line-up that included Status Quo, Bad Company and GUN, along with some of my favourite up and coming bands such as Riot: Noise and Hellbound. HRH, another sell-out, brought the likes of Michael Monroe, Orange Goblin and the band of the moment, Black Stone Cherry, to a sleepy seaside town.
We are also proud to have been involved in Oxjam Festival 2011, organising an intimate gig featuring some of our favourite acts (The RKives, One Track Mind, Reconcile and Blackwaters) in The Patriot Inn in Crumlin, South Wales.
However, the Festival that, without doubt, impressed me the most this year was Surface Festival. Surface is a European-wide competition aimed at discovering and promoting new music. It gives bands and artists of any genre the opportunity to play in front of the music industry's leading experts, win over £100,000 worth of prizes from more than 20 sponsors, and play the O2 Arena in London. I was involved with the Welsh region of the Festival and met so many incredibly talented musicians. Competing acts had to learn the skills necessary to 'make it' in the music industry to progress through the heats, the positive change in attitude and professionalism of some acts plain to see. Check it out for yourself at www.surfacefestival.com/ Long live Surface Festival!
Album of the Year
James: It’s a tough choice as there were so many great releases last year: Mastodon - The Hunter; Machine Head - Unto the Locust; and Alice Cooper - Welcome To My Nightmare.
For me, the album that had it all was Foo Fighters - Wasting Light. It had a perfect mix of songs with pop melodies combined with heavy guitar riffs. This CD spent the entire summer in my car stereo.
Sian: Easy! Saxon - Call To Arms. It made my whole year when I got the opportunity to interview Saxon frontman Biff Byford in November and I have been playing this album over and over since that day. It's great that the NWOBHM sound that we all know and love is still going strong in Saxon, and that there is still a market for it out there.
Special mention also goes to Status Quo - Quid Pro Quo and the much awaited new album from Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned.
Band of the Year
James: I couldn't narrow this down to one... for me, this accolade has to go to each and every band that played at my charity gig in August: Blame Her For The Scars (a brilliant cover band), Evolvers, Insuna, Create Chaos, Sensorychaos, Fourth Autumn, Counterhold and Fell On Black Days. So many great up and coming bands; if you have not checked them out, DO IT NOW!!!!!!
You can see the video for Counterhold's single Underground here:
Sian: I have seen so many acts this year and been impressed by so many high profile, up and coming, and new bands. As mentioned by James, Sensorychaos is the only metal band that has really caught my attention this year and as such, deserve a mention on my list. The guys have big plans for 2012, including a special live radio performance on BRFM in February, so you should be hearing much more from them very soon.
Special mention also goes to Canadian rockers October Sky, punk rockers One Track Mind, the mind-blowing hip hop metal crossover that is Reconcile and in the more high profile world, I was excited to finally check out Black Stone Cherry and classic rockers Skin.
However, my band of the year tops all of these. We first met when they performed at Rocking Music's Oxjam 2010. They competed in Surface Festival where they were the highest scoring band in the Welsh region throughout the competition, finally being one of two bands representing Wales at the O2 Arena in London. They work their fingers to the bone and then some. With loyal supporters, a great arsenal of catchy songs and such a professional attitude, I have no doubt that these 5 guys from the South Wales Valleys will be grabbing attention in 2012. They are, of course, Blackwaters.
Blackwaters created a video as part of their Surface Festival campaign earlier this year, featuring the lyrics to my favourite song, 'Polaroid Nightmare'. Check it out here:
2011 has been a quiet year for the Rocking Music website but rest assured that we are doing all we can to get involved as much as we can in the music scene. James has a metal show on Able Radio whilst Sian presents The Rocking Music Show on BRFM. We can't wait to get involved with Surface Festival again and as ever, we are always here to support rock and alternative talent.
Thank you all for your support, 2012 is going to be bigger and better than ever!
Written by Sian Jennifer Smith and James Smith