There are few things as beautiful as a band’s self-released debut 7”.
The desire to get one’s music out to the masses is something that has never been better exemplified by an EP that has no distribution – or label – other than the members themselves. It’s becoming increasingly rare to find something like this in the digital age.
Luckily, there is still a small contingent of bands willing to bankrupt themselves in order to make a memorable introduction to the music world.
Hailing from the UK, the once folk-punk duo known as Apologies, I Have None have commemorated its first release as a full-on punk band with one of the best 7”s in recent memory. While the music is some of the best of the year, it is the effort the band put into the packaging and the overall aesthetic of the release that truly makes it shine.
Unlike most 7”s jackets, there is no definite way to distinguish which cover is the front and which is the back. Each side of the two-song 7” boasts the band’s name, the track title and its own unique set of artwork. After giving the record itself a quick glance, it is discernible that the A-side of the record features the track “Sat in Vicky Park.”
The A-side cover features a black-and-white drawing of an owl butted up against a full color background. The unique image makes it a contender as an iconic 7” jacket in the same vein as Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown or Alkaline Trio’s Sundials, because of both its quality and rarity.
The B-side shares a similar design and theme concept, only with a different animal and set of colors showcased. For the second song, “Joiners and Windmills,” there is a black-and-white bird rested on a tree limb, looking curiously at a group of mice. The significance of these images is not fully revealed until the record’s two inserts are slid out of their paper dwelling.
While record inserts are sometimes completely overlooked, the band decided to make each insert unique. Not surprisingly, each song has its own insert with lyrics, band information and hand-numbering out of 100.
This is where things get a bit kooky. The cover art is taken a step further by adding a diagram of an owl and a mouse to each insert. The diagram akin to a kindergartner’s art class example. There’s a list of instructions for constructing the 3-D owl and mouse, allowing for an experience unlike any other EP, as it may be the first to include an accompanying art project.
It’s not something that’s seen often with records, but it takes the DIY aesthetic to a whole new level.
While it is unclear whether the entire pressing is limited to 100 copies, or if just the first 100 happen to be numbered, it is clear that all of the pressing was done on black vinyl. It is commonplace for vinyl releases to be pressed across a myriad of colors, each one more limited in numbers than the last. While there is nothing inherently wrong with such a practice, it can often turn a record collector into a crazy, color-obsessed lunatic who begins holding something like color or rarity in higher regard than the music. Seeing a young band completely sidestep this issue is refreshing given the nature of the current collector’s market.
Any band could put its money into a bunch of color variants, but Apologies, I Have None focuses on the record first and the selling points second.
Perhaps, one of the more interesting choices with this release was the absence of a download code. While the release already hearkens back to the old DIY spirit of yesteryear, Apologies, I Have None takes it a step further by including burned CD-Rs. Two different CD-Rs come with the 7” and both are high quality offerings, the first of which features both of the songs from the 7. The second is a copy of Done, the band’s first release when it was still a stripped down duo basing its sounds around genre forefathers Against Me!
The only downside to this release (from an American perspective) is that it must be imported from England. Factoring in the exchange rate and shipping, this two-song EP costs more than most domestic 7” releases. Unfortunately, that may be enough to deter a prospective American customer from making a purchase.
A word of advice, don’t let the extra dollars be a hindrance.