SSR Pick: Daniel: April 28, 2022

The Apostles: Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It Till It Breaks 7” (self-released, 1983)

Like my staff pick from last week, this 7” by the Apostles is another one I removed from my want list recently. Patience has always been the name of my game with record collecting. When someone recommends something to me or I hear about it, rather than rushing out to grab the first copy I can come across, I add it to the want list and wait for favorable terms to present themselves, whether that’s a copy from a US seller, an off condition copy for a bargain price, or the all-too-rare screaming deal. Occasionally, I break these rules and splurge (my impulse toward thrift is apt to dissolve when the item I want is in front of me, like at a shop or record fair), but my patience typically gets rewarded.

I added this 7” to my want list a few months ago when I was hanging out in the well-appointed artist lounge at Sorry eStates. (JK, I was just exchanging emails with a punk whose record we’re putting out from the drab, untidy confines of my windowless office.) Said punk mentioned this 1983 by the Apostles was one of their favorites so I checked it out on YouTube, liked what I heard, added it to the old want list. Eventually, the right deal came along and after a fraught journey from the UK to North Carolina, I finally had the EP in my hands.

I wasn’t a total stranger to the Apostles when I checked out Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It Till It Breaks. If memory serves, sometime early in the history of Sorry State’s brick and mortar shop, someone (I can’t remember who… maybe La Vida Es Un Mus?) turned up dead stock copies of their 1986 LP for Mortarhate, Punk Obituary, and we carried them in the shop. I’m certain I listened to it, but I can’t remember how I felt about it and it didn’t move me enough to keep a copy for myself. I also knew the Apostles had a massive discography comprising numerous cassette albums, LPs, and singles. When a band has a huge discography, I’m apt to start at the beginning, but the many cassette albums and live tapes that preceded their first vinyl release made it difficult to figure out what one should consider the beginning.

As far as I can tell, Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It Till It Breaks is the Apostles’ first vinyl release (though Discogs lists both it and Rising from the Ashes as having come out in 1983). The sound is eclectic even by anarcho-punk standards, landing somewhere between the more melodic sound of bands like Zounds and Crisis and the tougher, more hardcore anarcho sound of Conflict and Crass. For me, the standout track on this five-song EP is “Alien Asian,” which leans on an excellent melodic lead guitar line. The playing throughout is loose but powerful, with idiosyncratic touches like falsetto vocals and a lengthy drum solo at the end of “Pigs for the Slaughter.” I love how the Apostles can sound like a messy racket most of the time, but interesting and memorable bits frequently emerge from the din.

I also must note the EP’s awesome packaging. The foldout poster sleeve is pretty much de rigueur for anarcho punk, but the Apostles make good use of the format. The giant foldout is dense with text and imagery, much of it reproduced on such a tiny scale that it’s barely legible. You get the usual assortment of underground comics, lyrics, and political screeds along with some spicier content, like public callouts of other scene members and instructions for making petrol bombs and breaking into buildings (presumably for squatting). You get the impression the Apostles were bursting with ideas. I wonder if the other releases in their massive discography are similarly dense?

Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It Till It Breaks takes me into the Apostles’ world so effectively that I’m eager to explore more of their discography. (As a devoted fan of the Fall, you might guess I have a weakness for bands with huge discographies and a proclivity for immersive world-building.) The small amount of research I’ve done on the group leads me to believe Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It Till It Breaks might be one of the more straightforward releases in the Apostles’ discography, but if anyone has tips on what to explore next, I’m all ears.

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