XTRA MILE HIGH CLUB VOL. 5: SMOKIN'
(SIGNED VS UNSIGNED)
Behind the compilation...
Xtra Mile High Club Vol 5: Smokin' (Signed vs Unsigned) is a mouthful and an earful, and possibly more than you can handle. And all for not many pennies/cents/other coins.
Buy it from us direct here, or via iTunes if that's what you do.**
In what is clearly another outlandish, but stylish, maneuver on Xtra Mile Recordings' part, the fifth in the Xtra Mile High Club digital compilation series is a) 42 tracks long b) features almost every XMR artist and c) splits the comp between XMR artists and unsigned musicians and bands chosen by each of the artists, and one chosen by the XMR Street Team.
A (extended) family affair if ever there was one.
This has been the theme of the project, as it was a huge effort to coordinate, slaloming between people's busy schedules, breaking through communication breakdowns and Olympic sprinting to outrun the approaching deadlines. We'll have more on this soon, but for now read on....
As an introduction to the immense, extensive 42-track compilation Xtra Mile High Club Vol.5: Smokin' (Signed vs Unsigned), we asked each of our bands why they chose their unsigned counterpart. While you listen to the myriad sounds pounding from your speakers/earphones, go ahead and read about what makes the unsigned bands such an important part of this labour of love of the label.
The Frankl Project (chosen by Against Me!)
"'Day at the Races' was hand-picked by Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace to lead off the unsigned side of Smokin’ (Signed vs. Unsigned) compilation. It’s easy to see what Grace finds so appealing here; the guitar tones are incendiary, the song structure is intelligent, the down-trodden lyrics are clever but contained, and when guitarist/vocalist Jacob Tippey sings, it’s difficult not to believe everything he says. Tippey’s delivery is as purposeful as the music itself and pairing the two together makes for an explosive combination. All of those elements together make for a molotov cocktail of a tune that proves pop-punk can still be something worth listening to." - Steven Spoerl
Cheap Girls on Failures' Union
"We've been fans of Failures' Union since about the same time we started the band. Tony Flaminio's songwriting is right up there with all of my favorites going in the last decade. I remember him playing 'Hard to Sea' for me a couple years back and was absolutely blown away by how beautiful the entire picture is."
Northcote on Kayleigh Goldsworthy
"I met Kayleigh on a sun soaked rooftop stage at the 2014 SXSW festival. My touring mate Dave Hause had been playing a song from her record each night on tour. Kayleigh's song stood out to me in the playlist, and I was happy to have the chance to share the stage with her in New Orleans in March 2014. Kayleigh is an outstanding multi-instrumental performer who tours with a number of high caliber acts. She currently lives in California, grab her record Burrower and keep an eye out."
Ben Marwood on Quiet Quiet Band
"If I had to describe Quiet Quiet Band in one word, that word would probably be 'run'. Six people comprising one living, breathing beast, their claws twisted tightly around various murder ballads, Quiet Quiet Band's name is about as misleading as their intentions for your heart. Hunter's Moon is a stand-out example of what they can do – a tale of violence cutting from a driven, lyrically-defiant folk rock assault to twinkling percussion, handclaps and viola – the pretty conclusion to a dark opening typical of a band who, lyrically at least, can often be rewarding you with one hand whilst making a stabby-stabby motion with the other. These are some of my best friends. I have no idea how things turned out this way. Send help."
Did you know?
It's the 100th anniversary of the actual Mile High Club this year! Only 995 compilations to go for that Xtra Mile.
Rob Lynch on The Lion & the Wolf
"The Lion and the Wolf, or Tom George to his family, is a close friend of mine with whom I have toured many times. The first time I heard 'Ghosts On Trinity' it gave me chills. A hauntingly beautiful song about death.
Billy the Kid on PJ Bond
"Some time last year I moved to the United States from my hometown in Canada on the promise of a job from a pal opening a recording studio in Los Angeles. By the time I got there, it was pretty evident that the studio was a long way from being built and my housing options had fallen through. After overstaying my welcome on a bunch of people's couches, I finally put what was left of my belongings in to a storage space on Santa Monica Boulevard. I remember the sun beating down as I carried my guitar and tour suitcase all over Hollywood for hours. Desperate, I posted online: 'I'm thinking of hitchhiking across the country just for something to do'. I was serious. Within minutes I received a text from my old touring pal PJ Bond: 'Billy, don't hitchhike across the country...come on tour with us!'
PJ was somewhere in New York, on the road with three other acts. He explained that there wouldn't really be space for me to play my own set, but I could get onstage during his set, and play a couple of my songs. I could also back him up on a few tunes, if I wanted. Of course I did! I found my way to New York and within a few days I was back on the road and no longer thinking about the fact that I lived out of a storage space.
I love this song of PJ's and I loved singing it with him during that blast of a tour that I accidentally ended up on. I don't think PJ realizes it, but he probably saved my life in a lot of ways with that one simple gesture. Here's to you, bud."
Did you know?
You must be over 5,280 feet above ground before you qualify for the Mile High Club. That's.....erm....a mile. So yeah you probably did know.
To Kill A King on Spring Offensive
"Spring Offensive are a bunch of skinny guys out of Oxford. We've toured with them a couple of times which is good because they make excellent music. Lots of intricate rhythms, melodies and harmonies. Speak is my favourite."
Algiers on Toucans
"Hailing from Sheffield, Toucans (the brainchild of a far-too-talented young man called Adam Humphrey) have been releasing snippets of their colourful, far-out melodies for over a year now and the output has been delightful to say the least. They’ve mostly been toying and demoing ideas that cover all parts of the indie rock spectrum, and it’s in the sheer diversity of these tracks that the band has bestowed their clear ability to write a tune. What’s striking about Toucans is their dreamy vintage sound. If Toucans were a photograph they would be a series of lovely Polaroid pictures: pleasing, intriguing and charmingly old-fashioned. It seems only appropriate that they record onto cassette – who’d have thought those still exist."
Retrospective Soundtrack Players on Christopher George Whitear
"Chris, or Wit to his friends, is a permanent fixture in and around the Southsea music scene; he fronts the excellent B of the Bang and has also previously been in The Dawn Chorus and Analogue Manilow. He played our Xtra Mile stage at last year's Southsea Fest and we think he's one of the most underrated songwriters around."
XMHC competition winners: International Departures
International Departures is a collaborative song-writing project between multi-instrumentalist Henry Carden (ex-DARTZ!) and tunesmith Chris Charlton (ex-Pylon/Chopper). Every track they record features a different guest vocalist and 'Give Me Something' showcases the incredible talents of Cattle & Cane frontman Joe Hammill. With plenty of BBC Introducing, 6 Music and Amazing Radio plays already under their belts, International Departures hope to release their debut album early next year.
Mull Historical Society on Sorren Maclean
"Sorren is a fellow native of my home island of Mull, so that might be reason enough for me to give him a shout here, but he also happens to be very talented and a top guy. Sorren's first band supported Mull Historical Society back home when he was a teenager, and I've watched as he has continued to write and craft away. He's one of the best guitarists I've seen. I snapped him up for my live MHS set-up and he tours and co-writes with Roddy Woomble from Idlewild, among others. Now he has recorded his debut album Winter Stay Autumn back on Mull at the An Tobar studio, and so please sit back and enjoy this exclusive track from it, 'Either Way'. He's a star."
Beans On Toast on Little Rob and the Mob
"It's great being part of Xtra Mile, it's very much like being part of a family. A happy family at that. And what a great idea for this newest compilation, to get the usual Xtra Mile suspects to choose new upcoming bands to be on the CD, creating an extended family, if you will. Well, my choice is Little Rob and The Mob, and Little Robyn is part of my actual family. Yep, she's my niece. She's 16 years old, she's cool as a cucumber, she's a gifted songwriter and she plays the ukulele. Or at least she used to play the uke, and now she plays mandolin. And now she's started and band and shortened her name. Her and her new band the Mob recorded this song in school. Yep, in school. Fucking nuts."
Did you know?
Just 2 of our artists have made it onto all five of the XMHC comps. Have a guess who? Yup, those two Winchester boys, Frank Turner and Chris T-T - though Frank is on this one only as part of Möngöl Hörde.
Crazy Arm on Brunel
'When he's not depressed and singing in a Bill Callahan-esque baritone for dark country quartet, Head Of Programmes, Devonian moodsmith, James MacGregor, is depressed and screaming his heart out for Devon post-hardcore quartet, Brunel. Culled from many great regional bands over the past decade, they sound like seminal guitar abusers, Drive Like Jehu. They play their instruments like they're building a road, and they are pretty fucking ace."
Jon Snodgrass on Gasoline Heart
"Meet Gasoline Heart: A rock & roll band from Brooklyn NY. Drag The River toured with them / fell in love with their good sounding music & good looking faces this last April 2014. Enjoy."
Chris T-T on Grace Petrie & the Benefits Culture
"Grace drove out of Leicester a few years back carrying a bucket of out-and-out gems. She does vintage plaintive folk-protest, yet can nail a love song that will break you – and has great jokes too. She has a fierce yet vulnerable thing that reminds me of Xtra Mile ally Billy Bragg, back in his fiery 80s youth. Bragg has already discovered her in fact (he booked her for the Leftfield Stage) and the comedy circuit loves her too – Grace is often on the road with the likes of Robin Ince and Josie Long. I put her on at Midwinter Picnic a couple of years ago and then the Uncivilisation Festival stage I curated last summer; both times she destroyed the room. Grace Petrie is fearless and peerless; her songs will last.
Did you know?
There are 114 tracks across 5 volumes of XMHC. That's approximately 6 hours 32 minutes and 37 seconds of mostly brilliant music from your favourite label. It's also roughly the time a flight would take between London and New York. Or from Vladivostok to Singapore. So, now you know what to take on your mp3 player next time you take one of those journeys.
Franz Nicolay on Emilyn Brodsky
If you're a punk from the north east US, you know Emilyn Brodsky. She's probably played your house, harassed you for a ride, criticized your outfit, given you advice on your love life, and scolded you about your diet. She invented half the outfits and haircuts in the New York area and has played shows with the Magnetic Fields, Amanda Palmer, and Laura Jane Grace, a ukulele and her aggressive charm - and she's appeared on HBO's Girls. But she's only made one record: 2008's Emilyn Brodsky's Greatest Tits. Better get right before her long-awaited follow-up comes out - for which this song is the first single - and there's no more tickets on the bandwagon.
Drag the River on Jonathan Coody
"Jonathan Coody is good friend of ours from Valdosta Georgia. He fronted a band called Ninja Gun for many years. They were great, he's still great and also knows how to cook quite well. This is a demo from a new record he's working on. One night, we heard parts of about 10 of the songs. He was cooking, then strumming and singing in his kitchen. They were all good. He's cute too, and is a good driver."
Sonic Boom Six on The Karma Party
"'World War' serves as an incendiary starter before the main course of The Karma Party's second EP which drops very soon. Blackpool's favourite sons are good friends of SB6 and sincerely one of the best new bands out there on the gigging circuit, putting their own spin on the rock/dance crossover genre with scattershot blastbeats, head-banging wobdowns and fist-punching call-to-arms lyrics. They call their sound punkstep but I just call it the contemporary face of British guitar music.
Did you know?
All the artwork for XMHC compilations has been sky and flying related. The first two were beautiful sights out of plane windows, Vol 3 was a rocket, 4 was a serene looking globe, and now we're back where we're started, with a volcano in our airborne vista.
Jamie Lenman on CeCe
"Even though I've known her sister and her dad for many years, I only met Cece when we played a show together for Independent Venue Week at the start of this year. I dug her wistful melodies and delicate delivery, and spent the following evening listening to her EP Framework on repeat until i thought I'd gone into a different dimension. It's a close thing but 'Four Walls' is my favourite cut - I love the sounds, the way it starts spacey and then closes up in the second verse with that fuzz bass buzzing away while she maintains her subtle vocal performance. Listen to how tightly she holds it until the very end when she lets loose and it all goes nuts - if it was me i'd have put the taps on full right from the start and run out of hot water by the time you need to rinse your shampoo off. It's that kind of control and judgement that makes her such a special artist. Wonderful. Jesus Christ, I hope she don't read this..."
Oxygen Thief on Strange Planes
"Strange Planes are the latest musical incarnation of a bunch of guys I've been listening to for about 10 years - they're a four-headed, punk rock Doctor Who, regenerating every now and again with a new twist to their personality, but that special something running through their DNA that lets you know you're still being taken on adventures by the same character. A big part of that for me is the songwriting and vocals of Ellis Slater, a man who knows his way around riffs and melodies like he's following a sat-nav programmed to take the most interesting route to 'Hooksville'. I'm going to stop gushing now before this turns into some sort of weird love letter to them. Too late? I <3 Strange Planes."
Möngöl Hörde on Samoans
"Samoans are a band from Cardiff, although none of the members originate from the city itself. The band have established themselves as one of Wales' up and coming talents, creating a collection of intricate, yet melodic songs, drawing influence from bands such as Reuben, Maps & Atlases and Deftones. Their debut album 'Rescue' is due out summer 2014."
Did you know?
Despite the flight theme of the compilation, none of the songs have been about flying. However 6 tracks from the series mention the sea, or something to do with the sea, in their titles. Are boats better than planes? Is there a Nautical (Naughty-cal?) Mile Club?
Tracklisting, including Youtube playlist videos (just click on the song titles)
Side A – Xtra Mile
1. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
2. Cheap Girls - Man In Question
3. Northcote - Counting Down The Days
4. Ben Marwood - They Will Float Your Body Out To Sea (Alternate Version)
5. Rob Lynch - My Friends and I
6. Billy the Kid - Yet
7. To Kill A King - Cold Skin
8. Algiers - Little Friction
9. Retrospective Soundtrack Players - Smart Girls For Talking, Morons For Dancing (Live)
10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - As Always
11. Mull Historical Society - Why Do They Go So Soon (Home Demo)
12. Beans On Toast - Sold Out Shows
13. Crazy Arm - Black Canyon
14. Jon Snodgrass - "Song For The Groom's Friend, the friend who is the actual guy conducting the ceremony” (Exclusive Version)
15. Chris T-T & The Hoodrats - A Beaten Drum (piano version, live at St Paul's Lifestyle)
16. Franz Nicolay & The Cut Ups - To Us, The Beautiful
17. Drag The River - Marooned
18. Sonic Boom Six - A Little Bit Of Reggae
19. Jamie Lenman - Shower of Scorn
20. Oxygen Thief - con.script.shun
21. Möngöl Hörde - Blistering Blue Barnacles
**please note that the tracklisting may differ in other countries due to the licenses we hold for XMR acts in different territories.
Side B - Unsigned
5. The Lion & the Wolf - Ghosts On Trinity
6. PJ Bond - I'm In A Bad Way
7. Spring Offensive - Speak
8. Toucans – Welcome To Lovers House
9. Christopher George Whitear - Tokyo Drizzle
10. International Departures - Give Me Something (XMR competition winners)
11. Sorren Maclean - Either Way (feat. Roddy Woomble)
12. Little Rob and The Mob - Oaths
13. Brunel - Score Sheet
14. Gasoline Heart - Love Let Her Go
15. Grace Petrie & The Benefits Culture - The Redundancy Hymn
16. Emilyn Brodsky - Someone Belongs Here
17. Jonathan Coody - I Just Gotta Know
18. The Karma Party - World War
19. CeCe - These Four Walls
20. Strange Planes - Sharpen Your Teeth
21. Samoans - The Moth