GG King – Esoteric Lore
While I rarely felt like the Carbonas lived up to the echelon at which so many of their fans tended to regard them, one thing that always impressed me was that they never stopped getting stronger as a band. That forward momentum has happily continued in the output of lead singer Greg King. Now operating under the somewhat ridiculous GG King handle, he’s allied himself with key former Carbonas and others for a bracing minimalist punk attack that shreds the approach of that prior band down to its stone-cold gut.
A relentless, anxious frenzy pumps these rapid-fire outbursts, inciting rocket-feet and beer spillage. I’m not enough of a punk rock authority to try and namecheck whatever obscure bands GG King draws from, but it’s safe to say there’s a lot of ’70s UK touchstones in Greg’s record collection – and if not, there should be! There are group backing vocals that sound like a howlin’ wind about to sweep you skyward. The guitars slash ‘n’ stab in a self-contained street rumble. The bass thuds and chugs like a belligerent drunk that won’t step down. The drums rattle and pound until they don’t, stopping on a dime. King’s vocals often remind me of Pete Shelley in the early Buzzcocks, or Colin Newman in early Wire, where you’re dizzy by not only the breathless thrust of the delivery but also the giddy pop undercurrent of it all. And early British punk band Johnny Moped gets a nod with a fine cover of “Incendiary Device.”
Driving the point home, Esoteric Lore‘s artwork uses that classic cheap black & white, cut ‘n’ paste, scribble ‘n’ scramble aesthetic so common to punk and hardcore since before Never Mind the Bollocks. It’s a clichéd look now, but it’s still effective, I have to admit. And since the lyrics are scrawled and typed into the inner sleeve layout, it lets you catch up with some of the words that may’ve zoomed by in the flurry of impact. My favorite is probably “Bored of Breathing”: “You’re always acting like you’re bored of breathing/ But no one is telling you to keep on living.”
Thankfully, GG King isn’t bored yet, and neither are we.