Xtra Mile Recordings year-end review:
- 29/12/2016 -
Well, that was a year. Even with a few days left it seems keen to leave its mark on us. Burned and battle scarred some of us may be, but if 2017 thinks it'll push us around too it better get an ACME Shoving Machine (c) because it by itself will not be enough. Nevertheless, 2016 was pretty special for Xtra Mile Recordings and there will be plenty of great memories that will hopefully outweight any of the awful ones.
Post first decade, Xtra Mile Recordings continued to consolidate its position as a UK label with no agenda other than wanting to give you the best music it can find and embrace all those willing to be part of something great.
Below you'll find a list of things that made our 2016 memorable. We expect great things for 2017, but we want to dwell on the REALLY GOOD things from this year just one last time before we launch Mars-ward into whatever 2017 brings. It probably can't be any stranger than 2016. You're all used to these list things by now, so scroll down at your leisure.
Just before THE LIST though, we persuaded one of our absolute favourites, Chris T-T, to do us a Spotify radio show rounding up some of the best of XMR and other music we liked in 2016. Listen to Xtra Mile Radio on Spotify. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here. Enjoy!
We also have a roundup video, for those of you who like your eyes and ears blessed with #content, rather than filtering it through your word-brains. Why not watch, listen AND read this list too?
#1 In with the new AND the old
Never let it be said that we disregard our past for all the new-fangled exciting next, best thing (and NEVER the next best thing). In 2016, we brought you 16 new albums. Yes. We were adorned with the latest fruits from recent signees Ducking Punches, Recreations, The Lion and the Wolf, Trapper Schoepp and Saint Leonard's Horses, with an EP each from Johnny Lloyd and The RPMs. We were garlanded with new records fr0m old favourites like Against Me!'s Shape Shift With Me, Chris T-T's pseudo-sequel to 9 Red Songs titled 9 Green Songs, Oxygen Thief's new project Non Canon, Beans on Toast's seventh album A Spanner in the Works, and Mull Historical Society's post-Best of album, Dear Satellite. We were also gifted second records on XMR from fresh talents like Esmé Patterson, Rob Lynch, Skinny Lister and Will Varley, all gaining wider attention thanks to endless touring and fantastic new albums. We released nine records in the last four months of the year alone, even finding time to release a 10-track live record featuring a song from each of the roster who performed at 2000trees festival this summer.
We're proud to offer as much exciting and guaranteed excellent new music as we possibly can. But this doesn't mean we can let our long-term fans' wishes go unfulfilled. We also repressed Frank Turner's second and third albums Love Ire & Song and Poetry of the Deed, and reissued perennial favourite England Keep My Bones as well as releasing a tenth anniversary edition of Campfire Punkrock, all on vinyl. In lieu of new material, these definitely satisfied record hoarders like us. Read more about how those record sleeves were redesigned in a Q & A with Evan Cotter.
Click on an album from our 2016 releases below to go to our shop and buy it. Various formats are available.
#2 Challenging convention and courting controversy
We'll hold our hands up: we haven't been very good at providing a platform for women. But with Esmé Patterson's delightful and pointed Woman To Woman, we began to do a little better last year. We also released the physical format of Esmé's latest, We Were Wild, and along with Lorna leading Skinny Lister's live shows, our support for the excellent Safe Gigs for Women (read more on that here), with stalls at our shows and selling wristbands to raise awareness, and of course releasing albums by the incredible Against Me! fronted by Laura Jane Grace, we're doing more and more.
Politically it has been one of the most divisive years for the UK and US in our memory. Will Varley, Chris T-T and Beans on Toast continued their powerful politically and socially conscious way with songs. Chris T-T took down the do-nothing, establishment-propping set on 'Love Me I'm A Liberal' and showed an almost prescient sense on '#WorstGovernmentEver', Will's album Kingsdown Sundown was soaked in the melancholy brought on by 2016, and Beans on Toast faced it head on with the song '2016'. Meanwhile, Laura Jane Grace continued to push forward with her album about love from a transgender perspective (Shape Shift With Me) and published her own memoirs entitled Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. Frank Turner continued to support worthwhile causes, and also became a patron of the British Humanist Society.
#3 Taking over 2000trees
As mentioned above, this was captured on Xtra Mile High Club: Vol. 7: Truckin' (a mere £3.99 digital download) – live XMR sets recorded at the festival by the awesome Xtra Mile Outside Broadcast truck. On Thursday 7 July 2016, Xtra Mile were handed the keys to an entire stage for the whole day. We filled it with some of our favourites: Oxygen Thief; Rob Lynch with full band; festival mascot and returning hero0 after a year away from the stage (another of 2016's best moments), Ben Marwood; Crazy Arm; Beans on Toast; and not-really-very-secret secret headliner Frank Turner who played the majority of England Keep My Bones (deftly replacing 'Nights Become Days' with 'Balthazar, Impressario' to audience delight). The Axiom Stage held a variety of collaborations, from Barry Dolan of Oxygen Thief / Non Canon providing an entirely necessary kazoo solo to Ben Marwood's 'Singalong', Will Varley beatboxing for Beans on Toast's encore, and Frank Turner getting in on the act with Ben Marwood and solo artist and XMR friend Nick Parker for a cover of The Postal Service's 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight'. Read more in our review of 2000trees and also the ultimate fan perspective on the festival Camps Reuben, Turner and Marwood.
Friday and Saturday also featured five other acts with Johnny Lloyd and Will Varley playing the Neu Stage, and Non Canon playing in the Forest Stage (the only XMR set not recorded by the XMR Outside Broadcast truck that weekend) on Friday 8 July, and Recreations and The RPMs playing the Neu Stage on Saturday 9 July. It was one of the best weekends of the year and we were happy to be able to document it with the live compilation and this highlights video below.
#4 XMROB1 and the launch of XMR Presents live sessions
If XMR had an arsenal, XMROB1 would be a tank slowly mowing down resistance to our artists' music several hundred video views at a time. XMR Presents began at the back of one of our favourite pubs, The Monarch in Camden, with an interview and three-song session with Trapper Schoepp back in February. It was recorded using basic equipment and with minimal production value, hastily and well scrubbed up by Evan Cotter before launch. We followed up with Mull Historical Society, which unfortunately suffered from data storage problems. Now that XMROB1 is unleashed and on the road, we have a vehicle with the ability to not only record live sets from the stage but also film and record live sessions inside. This led to a series of sessions for XMR Presents with the production values you and the artists deserve. You can watch our entire playlist of live sessions featuring Will Varley, Ben Marwood, Saint Leonard's Horses, Non Canon, Ducking Punches and more, including select interview snippets. Enjoy! And expect many more in 2017. XMROB1 can also be hired for a professional live recording or stream, complete with engineer.
#5 All the Xtra Miles (September to December 2016)
In what must be one of the happiest calamities of the year, we somehow stumbled into releasing nine albums in four months. We also accidentally scheduled around 20 of our artists to be on tour throughout autumn and winter of 2016. We're...still not sure how we managed that. But instead of moaning and complaining about the workload involved, we turned it into a celebration: all the Xtra Miles, indeed.
We bombarded you with information and eventual releases: September saw Against Me!'s latest Shape Shift With Me and Skinny Lister's third album The Devil, The Heart & The Fight revealed to the world as well as the download-only 10-track live album (and seventh in the Xtra Mile High Club series) XMHC Vol. 7: Truckin' (live at 2000trees); October boasted The Lion & the Wolf's The Cardiac Hotel, the first album from Non Canon, the new songwriting project of Barry Dolan (Oxygen Thief), and Saint Leonard's Horses debut album Good Luck Everybody; and November started with Will Varley's highly-anticipated Kingsdown Sundown, continued with Esmé Patterson's We Were Wild, and ended with Beans on Toast's seventh album A Spanner in the Works on 1 December. You can obviously still buy these records if you fancy some of them (though they'll be delivered from January now of course!).
You can read more about this wild period here and also buy all the albums near the top of the page. You already scrolled past it!
We also ran a competition for all you gig fans. Prove you've been to 10 gigs throughout the season, and you'll be in with the chance of winning a mystery goody bag. There were more than enough chances (around 264, actually) and we look forward to finding out who the winner is! Well done all of you for even trying. We love the devotion and passion shown by XMR fans worldwide and we know each of you would attend as many gigs as you could get to. I mean, what else was there to do this year really? Winners will be announced in the new year.
Don't forget to visit our shop for records, merch and other knick-knacks during your time off (or whenever you read this) this season. Go go go! Also, let us know your favourite XMR 2016 moments. We love hearing them and if you want to write a little bit for the XMR HUB on this very subject, ann your hopes and dreams for 2017, let us know and we'll try and publish them in the new year. Yeah? Yeah. Get at us on social media (click the buttons below) or email email@example.com. Thanks and be safe!