Album #134: ESG – Come Away with ESG

  • Released: 1983
  • Origin: The Bronx, New York, USA
  • Label: 99
  • Best Track: Moody (Spaced Out)

When reading a blog post from Rough Trade the other day about the best debut albums ever, I didn’t recognise the last one on the list at all, but it sounded like I should have done.

Described by RT as “one of the greatest post-punk bands ever”, ESG were, at this stage, a band of four sisters. Their 1983 debut has been cited as an influence among many musicians, including Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna (recently immortalised in the latest IDLES song ‘Mr. Motivator’).

I can’t imagine how fresh this must have sounded in the mid- to early ’80s, and how much material it has paved the way for since. I’d call it dance-punk myself, but ‘punk’ is the operative word there. With bass-driven songs like ‘Chistelle’ and the fantastic ‘Moody’, it’s a record with serious attitude.

Songs could be described as simple and minimalist, and those that aren’t instrumentals mostly limit their lyrics to a few repeated sentiments. Nonetheless, the timing and synergy between the sisters is impeccable. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much cowbell on an album, and on ‘Tiny Sticks’, it even feels like the metronome is part of the beat!

I love this. Possibly my favourite album I’ve discovered so far on this project, old or new.

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