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28 July 2013

ESG (99)

These six songs are so incredibly strange to behold - trebly, thinly-recorded voices with a sassy, funk/soul edge to them and a super addictive rhythm section, but then the hooks are all missing and it often feels empty.  I mean, this was just a weird band -- all sisters, from the Bronx, playing some form of rock/punk, and it's produced by Martin Hannett on side one and it still feels like a fish out of water, even after three decades of posthumous institutionalisation. ESG don't really fit with any scene - they were a rock band that was danceable, sounding like Rip Rig and Panic in approach but way more simplistic; punk, sure, but undeniably urban; but too amped-up and agitated to fit with soul or funk. This uncertainty isn't really evident in the music, which just feels really honest. The second half of this is live, but it sounds home-recorded -- 'Hey!' ends with a whimper, with a stray guitar note here and there, feeling again like a few layers are missing.  You gotta love bands with a theme song ("Queen of the Ryche", anyone?) and 'ESG' has that too. ESG stood for Emerald, Sapphire and Gold which I guess the artwork illustrated, but for some reason this cover always makes me think of soccer.

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