The wild and wonderful world of Franz Nicolay is once again in glorious ear-shot for those brave souls tempted to indulge. To Us, The Beautiful! is the anthemic follow-up to 2012's Do the Struggle and will be released by Xtra Mile Recordings on the 19th January 2015You can preorder To Us, The Beautiful from Xtra Mile Recordings or digitally from iTunes

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Renowned for his unique delivery and absorption of widely diverse styles, Franz has shared stages and/or songwriting time with The Hold Steady, New York gypsy-punks Guignol, and Against Me!, as well as recording with the likes of Frank Turner, The Living End, and The Dresden Dolls. With a whole heap of solo records and full-band recordings behind him, his latest is something that won't be repeated: “If I make another record, it probably won't be anything like this.” He could have said that about any record in his career, naturally. It rings true enough here though.

Taking its title from a rather lucid Ukrainian toast – “To us the beautiful, and to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out” - the album has far more of the joyous celebration than the dark acid tongue to it. It's almost an atypical Franz record, as it stands right up against the catchiest guitar-pop records, in a way only Franz could muster.

In a mere 6 days of rehearsal and recording, with Andrew Seward of Against Me! on bass, Ara Babajian of Leftover Crack on drums, the NYC guitarist Yoni Gordon, and J. Robbins of the excellent Jawbox and Burning Airlines producing, To Us, The Beautiful! is bulging with hooks and elegant melodies. “Talk To Him In Shallow Water”, for example, has a beautiful banjo-picked melody line that's fluid and refined yet harks back to the more ramshackle gamut that Franz usually runs. However, this is an exception, as Franz has brought an addictive strain of chiming and carving rock-and-roll. Listen to “Bright White” and you'll feel yourself nodding in agreement.

Of course, Franz refuses to stick to one sound throughout and gallops, sidles and strides across his musical tastes as before – just with far more direct shots to the heart and soul than the esoteric form he usually takes. Whether the slow-burn wall of sound on 'Everything Is Going According To Plan', the almost doo-wop chorus of 'The Pilot Inside', or the reliable and satisfying chug, hue and cry of closer 'Porta Fenestella', the guitars are driving everything. They direct Franz's literary-inspired lyrics and free-spirit vocals down turbulent and exhilarating channels, all flowing to choruses that won't leave you for hours or days on end.

He claims a whole heap of inspirations that have left fingerprints on the record, a list that includes: the Waterboys, Leo Strauss, Ivor Cutler, Future Of The Left, a pet rat in Southampton, John Cooper Clarke, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and “other things (that) are in there too,” says Franz himself. Nevertheless, he promises that “you don't have to go looking for them; you can take what you wish from it, obviously. I'm pleased if you like it. If you don't, that's fine too. It's a big world.”

And with Franz in it, the world seems a whole lot wider than before.


With their new EP Exit, Pursued By A Bear out this week - which you can purchase from Xtra Mile Recordings - and on the eve of their sold out London show this Wednesday, 22 October 2014 at The Courtyard Theatre, To Kill A King today announce a major UK tour for spring 2015. The tour in March will culminate in the band’s biggest ever headline show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

MARCH 2015
06 Nottingham @ Rescue Rooms
07 Glasgow @ Stereo 
08 Manchester @ The Deaf Institute
9 Leeds @ Brudenell
11   Bristol @ Thekla
12  Brighton @ The Haunt
13  SouthamptonJoiners
14  London @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Produced by Mark Crew (who produced Bastille’s Bad Blood) and the band’s keyboardist Ben Jackson, Exit, Pursued By A Bear is To Kill A King’s first new recording since 2012 and marks a new chapter in their career. On the EP, To Kill A King deliver a dynamic, expansive sound, with hyperactive drums and buzzing guitars. Singer Ralph Pelleymounter’s voice is the band’s trump card – an intoxicating baritone that can soar as well as soothe.

Watch the video to lead track Oh My Love here:

Like their Xtra Mile label mate Frank Turner, To Kill A King are never happier than when they are on the road. Since forming in 2009 the band haven’t stopped touring, gradually headlining bigger and bigger venues - their most recent tour culminated in a sold-out London date at Koko. Earlier this year TKAK embarked on their first headline European Tour, before heading to North America where they were main support to regular touring buddies Bastille. They also performed at SXSW and supported Frank Turner in Arizona. Back in the UK, they joined Neil Young & Crazy Horse and The National at Hyde Park in July.

To Kill A King are Ralph Pelleymounter (vocals/acoustic guitar), Grant McNeil (electric guitar), Ben Jackson (synth and keys), Josh Platman (bass), and Josh Taffel (drums). They are currently in the studio recording their second album, the follow-up to 2012’s Cannibals With Cutlery.

TO KILL A KING: website / twitter / facebook


It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol is a brand new bundle of seasonal songs from the UK’s foremost (or only) purveyors of concept-folk-pop, The Retrospective Soundtrack Players. Good boys and girls who preorder will be gifted the early Christmas present of 'Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets its Wings'.

Preorder the album on CD, vinyl and download from Xtra Mile Recordings, on CD or vinyl from Amazon or Banquet Records, and - finally - download straight from iTunes. Phew! You're being spoiled this Christmas!

The veritable shopping list of tracks for RSP's festive third album is below, including the live choir-like favourite 'No Man Is Poor Who Has Friends'. But you can listen to the suitably cynical 'Bah Hambug' right now here: 

It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol features guest appearances from several artists from the Xtra Mile stable – namely Frank Turner, Ben Marwood and Chris T-T.

1. Theme from ‘It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol’
2. I’m Sleeping this Christmas
3. It’s a Wonderful Life
4. Bah Humbug! Instant Grat for preordering
5. The Guardian Angel
6. The Ghost of Christmas Past (I’m a Coward) featuring Chris T-T
7. The Ghost of Christmas Present (No Ego) featuring Frank Turner
8. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (I Can’t Be Anybody Else) featuring Ben Marwood
9. Christmas Day
10. Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets its Wings
11. No Man is Poor Who Has Friends

It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol borrows themes of loneliness, greed, poverty and eventual redemption from the classic works of Dickens and Capra, weaving them into a new compendium of joyous and memorable songs that showcase the band’s unique voice and storytelling skill.

The band will be playing a few shows around the release: 


14 Southampton @ Joiners *
21 London @ Camden Monarch **

07 Portsmouth @ Square Tower ***
12 Manchester @ Star & Garter ***
14 Swindon @ Victoria ***
18 Brighton @ The Brunswick ***
* with Solemn Sun / ** with Elliott Kozlik / *** with Chris T-T and the Hoodrats

Some words about RSP’s previous work:

‘Nihilistic and hopelessly romantic, Kyle Evans imitates Holden Caulfield perfectly...'  ROCK SOUND
'Less of a band and more of an art project... thoroughly enjoyable'  PUNKTASTIC
‘authentic, original and innovative gems… irresistibly catchy’  STEREOBOARD /


In celebration of National Coming Out Day (11 October), the first four episodes of the highly anticipated series True Trans with Laura Jane Grace can now be viewed via AOL On Originals. Additional episodes of True Trans will be released on 4 and 25 November 2014.

The 10 episode series follows transgender lead singer of the punk band Against Me!, Laura Jane Grace, who came out at the height of her music career in 2012. Her latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues deals with this in brutal and honest detail, and is recognised as one of the best albums of this year.

True Trans shares the remarkably real journey of Laura, the most well-known transgender person in music, and other transgender individuals across the country. This unscripted docu-series explores poignant moments from Laura’s life and the overall transition experience.   Each short-form episode will dive deeper into the lives and emotions of this community, revealing the strength in finding who they really are. 

In the first 4 episodes, viewers and fans will get an up close and personal look at people whose stories are only just beginning to be told - from recounting memories of childhood and recognizing moments of gender dysphoria, to finding acceptance and support in the transgender community. / #TrueTrans@LauraJaneGrace@AOLoriginals



Drunk-folk singer, barefoot troubadour and cult acoustic hero Beans on Toast will release his 6th studio album, The Grand Scheme of Things, on  1 December (his 34th birthday) through Xtra Mile Recordings.

Keen to get it as soon as you can? Well, you can preorder the CD or digital album from Xtra Mile, download from iTunes if you prefer, grab the physical disc from physical shop Banquet Records or order it from Amazon. Also, you can also listen to instant grat preorder track 'Lizzy's Cooking' from the album right now to whet the appetite.

He will also take on a 15 date headline tour - with support from the wonderful Will Varley - including Beans’ largest London show to date, at Electric Ballroom on 11 December.

Tracklisting and tour dates are below:

1. Folk Singer
2. The War on War
3. Fuck You Nashville
4. The Chicken Song
5. Stinging Nettles
6. Lizzy’s Cooking
7. A Whole Lot of Loving
8. Flying Clothes Line
9. All I see is Wagamama
10. NOLA Honeymoon
11. NYE

With his biggest year to date behind him, including an engagement, Beans on Toast is turning his usually irreverent mind to the more valuable things in life. The album moves into more wholesome topics of home cooking, an upcoming honeymoon and a whole lot of loving; a marked change in the man who once was a poster boy for the triumvirate of sex, drugs and politics.

What hasn’t changed is Beans on Toast’s unrivaled ability to tell a tale, his no-holds-barred social commentary and his ability to tackle difficult subjects from an everyday point of view. Here, his thoughts from the last year are honestly regaled through 11 life-affirming and frequently humorous tracks.

In the 12 months that have seen him tour the world, open arenas for Frank Turner and play a jam packed summer of festivals, material has come from his experiences, with American tour dates (‘Fuck You Nashville’ and love song ‘New Orleans Honeymoon’), memories of his Camp Bestival main stage performance (‘Stinging Nettles’), a song he wrote for children about the great outdoors, and topics like gentrification, chicken farming and world peace all get the Beans musical treatment.

Recorded at London’s Soup Studios, The Grand Scheme of Things features and was fittingly produced by Sam Beer, an old family friend who taught Beans on Toast his first song on the guitar over 18 years ago on a camping holiday in Spain, and who was reunited with Beans on the London music circle 10 years later. Together, with the help of friends Bobby Banjo and contributors Will Varley and Brooke Sharkey, this is an album that marks a change, but not a complete makeover, for everyone’s favourite modern one-man band.

UK tour dates - get tickets from Beans' website here

20 Aberdeen @ The Lemon Tree
21 Glasgow @ Nice N Sleazy
22 Edinburgh @ Voodoo Rooms
24 Newcastle @ The Cluny
25 Hull @ Fruit
26 Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
27 Manchester @ Ruby Lounge
28 Liverpool @ The Shipping Forecast
29 Nottingham @ Rescue Rooms

03 Birmingham @ Hare & Hounds
04 Cambridge @ Junction
05 Bristol @ The Fleece
06 Exeter @ The Phoenix
09 Portsmouth @ Wedgewood Rooms
10 Brighton @ The Haunt
11 London @ Electric Ballroom / @beanstoast /


Against Me! release their furious new single 'True Trans Soul Rebel' - taken from the highly-acclaimed album Transgender Dysphoria Blues - on 24 November. Listen to it below. This is preceded by a UK tour on 13th - 19th November, which includes hard-working, folk-rock Canadian Billy the Kid supporting. Tickets are on sale here.

Photo by Ryan Russell

Photo by Ryan Russell

In addition to the musical success of 2014 for the band, frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has become the most visible transgender woman in music today. But that doesn’t mean the Against Me! frontwoman has it all figured out. In her upcoming AOL Originals series, 'True Trans With Laura Jane Grace', the rocker travels around the US and meets with a number of transgender men and women to talk about their hardships, coming out, transitioning and just how messy the idea of gender can be.

“The opportunity I had while shooting this show was nothing short of tremendous,” Grace says of the show “Getting the chance to listen to other people tell their stories of how life shaped their identities and views on gender couldn’t help but further inform my own understanding of just how complicated and also how simple all of it really is.”

The 10-part documentary series, which kicks off with four episodes on 10 October in honor of National Coming Out Day (11 Oct), also takes a look at Grace’s life as a mother, wife and rock star since she came out as transgender at age 31 in a 2012 Rolling Stone profile. 

Against Me! bring their punk rock anthems to the UK this November with label mate Billy the Kid as main support. Catch this incredible band at one of the following venues.
13 Bristol @ Bierkeller
14 Birmingham @ O2 Academy 2
15 Glasgow @ King Tuts
16 Leeds @ Beckett Students Union
17 Portsmouth @ Wedgewood Rooms
18 Manchester @ Academy 2
19 London @ Electric Ballroom
As we head toward the end of the year, plaudits for Transgender Dysphoria Blues just keep on coming.  Don’t just take our word on how great this record is...
The New York Times  - “Crisp, distinct and vibrant”
Rolling Stone Magazine – "45 Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
TIME Magazine – "25 Best Songs of 2014 So Far" ("Transgender Dysphoria Blues")
SPIN – "50 Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
Alternative Press Magazine – "Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
Sound Opinions – “The Best Albums of 2014…So Far”
Consequence of Sound – "Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
Stereogum – "50 Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
Flavorwire – "25 Best Albums of 2014 So Far"
Mashable – Laura Jane Grace named one of 10 LGBT-Rights Activists to Follow on Twitter.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the intense follow-up to the band’s previous full-length album, ‘White Crosses’ (reissued with bonus disc Black Crosses on Xtra Mile Recordings in 2011) and stands as another major benchmark for the band and its career spanning 10+ years.