Beggars GroupNow housing four of the most recognisable independent record labels – 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade and XL Recordings – The Beggars Group in the last decade has gone from strength to strength, not only confirming their position as one of the largest independent groups of labels in the world, but also, by allowing their artists the time to develop, affording them freedom and support, releasing the best the decade had to offer.
Seeking out talent and twinning it with a raw passion for music has long been at the heart of Beggars and the last decade shows an incredible list of artists signed to one of their labels who have achieved sales awards in one or more key markets; Adele, Antony & The Johnsons, Arcade Fire, The Avalanches, Badly Drawn Boy, Basement Jaxx, Beirut, Belle and Sebastian, Biffy Clyro, Bon Iver, British Sea Power, Cat Power, The Delays, Dizzee Rascal, Electric Six, Emiliana Torrini, Friendly Fires, Gotan Project, Interpol, Jack Penate, Jarvis Cocker, Lemon Jelly, M.I.A., The Libertines / Babyshambles, The Prodigy, The Raconteurs, Radiohead, The Strokes, Sufjan Stevens, Vampire Weekend, The White Stripes and The xx all fall in to this bracket.
The labels have also continued to nurture and encourage new and have radical talent and worked with some of the most established alternative acts around, all whom have seen their releases enjoy a decade of critical success; they include Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Beck, Blonde Redhead, The Breeders, Brightblack Morning Light, Broken Records, Camera Obscura, Cold Cave, Cornershop, Deerhunter / Atlas Sound, The Hold Steady, Holy F*ck, The Horrors, F*cked Up, Future of the Left, mclusky, Holly Miranda, Monsters of Folk, The Morning Benders, The Mountain Goats, The New Pornographers, Peaches, Sigur Ros, Scout Niblett, Sonic Youth, Super Furry Animals, St. Vincent, Tindersticks, TV On The Radio, M. Ward, Warpaint, Wiley – to name but a few!
2010 has already delivered much with Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album, Contra, becoming the Group’s first ever self-released US Number One album early on in the year, and high profile album releases from M.I.A. and The National also obtaining high chart positions around the globe, new talent signed to the Group has continued to arrive with the varied form of Giggs, Rox and Stornoway, being added to the ranks and high anticipation for new albums from Adele, Deerhunter and Interpol.
The decade has also seen a few legends coaxed out of varying states of hiatus by labels in the Group. In 2001, much-vaunted composer and producer David Axelrod released David Axelrod (Mo Wax / XL Recordings), an album that made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the album that took the longest to finish with the rhythm tracks having been recorded in 1968, some 33 years before it was mastered and delivered to a label. Scott Walker broke a decade-long silence with The Drift on 4AD, the eagerly awaited follow-up to the infamous Tilt, while Matador Records in 2008 helped Lou Reed release the soundtrack to his Berlin Live movie and also finally got their man with Sonic Youth signing up after their Geffen deal of nearly two decades expired, releasing their latest album, The Eternal in 2009.
Rough Trade worked with Jarvis Cocker, Scritti Pollitti and Eddie Reader, and at the tail end of the decade, released the first solo music from Elizabeth Fraser, an artist who had more or less retreated from music after her band Cocteau Twins dissolved in the mid-nineties.
XL Recordings made the headlines by signing Radiohead for the commercial release of their much discussed “pay what you want” In Rainbows album (2007), having already helped Thom Yorke to release his own debut solo album, The Eraser, worldwide in 2006. They also worked with Damon Albarn on releasing his Monkey opera, with Gorillaz collaborator, Jamie Hewlett, in 2008.
2010 saw another make a long-awaited return with XL Recordings label founder, Richard Russell, helping produce and release I’m New Here by Gil Scott-Heron, the iconic artist’s first new album for 16 years.