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Music Reviews: October 2015

15 October 15 words: Music Reviews
With D.I.D, Benji Smedz, Ferocious Dog, Heurt, The Idolins, Insultana, Ken Owen, Kumarachi, Ningen and more
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D.I.D
Fast Food EP
EP (Your Childhood Records)
It's been three years since we were last treated to a new D.I.D single, but the local five-piece are finally back. With the rebrand from Dog Is Dead now complete, Fast Food is a new four-track EP which gives us a glimpse into what the band's second album might sound like. The title track is the sort of upbeat, indie-pop record that D.I.D do better than anyone else. Fast Food combines a catchy and memorable chorus with lyrics that talk to their legion of young fans, “All we do is eat fast food/all we do is fool around/all we do, it means nothing…” reminiscent of the defiant refrain from Glockenspiel Song. Gameplan is a mid-paced, brooding song that hints at what else the band might be capable of, and features a great Bennie and the Jets-esque bassline. The quintet then throw off the shackles for the live favourite Hotel, which bursts into life with a dirty guitar riff that hints at a darker, rockier sound than we have heard from D.I.D before. The EP concludes with Big Lie, yet another change of pace and direction. With its stripped-back instrumentation, soaring harmonies and stadium crescendo, it's proof that the band can turn their hand to almost any type of indie-pop song. If Fast Food is a taster of what is to come on the band's second album then they have certainly succeeded in whetting our appetite. A triumphant return. Nick Parkhouse

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Benji Smedz
Tied In Notts
Album (Self-released)
As one third of the house/techno stalwarts Animistics, Benji Smedz has been making movements for a few years now as a solo artist. Tied in Notts is his homage to the streets that helped to craft his art and simultaneously matured his music and production. The album kicks off with a haunting yet uplifting riff in the shape of Catchphrases, Benji’s tender yet sharp flow complementing the laid back grooves. The LP then seems to twist and turn through a maze of genres and production quality, ranging from the dub-infused Didn’t Know and Crazy to the more dancefloor-accessible Between and Escape. The last quarter of Tied In Notts shows off Benji’s soul influences, with the bluesy Plain View and the dark, eerie Live highlighting the interchangeable pallet of instrumentality that he possesses. The strong yet sumptuous beats seem to weave so freely and effortlessly with the supple spitting to make an album of rich finesse. Jack Garofalo

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Ferocious Dog
From Without
Album (Self-released)
For a band that stand a good chance of selling out Rock City later in the year – yes, Main Hall – surprisingly, this is only Ferocious Dog’s second studio album. Warsop-based, these Celtic folk-rockers have made one of the most solid sophomore albums I’ve ever heard. There is no filler here. The album is heavily political  – both historically and contemporary  – but it’s presented in an easy to digest, fun way. Recent single Ruby Bridges is a particular highlight, and at only two minutes long, it manages to pack in a touching story, about three speed changes, and a bloody catchy chorus. Slow Motion Suicide, which tells the story of a jobless miner after the pits had been closed, sums up the album best. A simple yet unique structure. Uplifting yet resonating. There’s forty-odd minutes of brilliance here. It’s no wonder their fanbase is so dedicated. Sam Nahirny

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Heurt
Lover EP
EP (Self-released)
This eclectic listen is pure heartbreak music. That intoxicating concoction of lucid unconscious beats and powerful, image-provoking lyrics. Not much info exists about who or what Heurt is, yet this EP provides us with similar songwriting ability to The Weeknd’s masterpiece mixtape, House of Balloons. It tugs at the emotions while simultaneously entering the listener into a hazed trance, taking us through the artist’s anguish in a different way than the usual monotonous, slushy nonsense monopolising the charts. The strong hints of Jamie Woon only add to the appeal and, although Heurt’s influences are fairly evident, the innovative way he mixes low hypnotic vocals with sharp, penetrating production is original in every sense of the word. This album has a time and a place for all listeners  – albeit not a Saturday night on the razz  – yet this unknown, untraceable ghost proves why British music isn’t dead and buried just yet. Jack Garofalo

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The Idolins
Bridges
Album (Self-released)
Some terrific folk music has come out of the UK in the last couple of years and, in the Idolins, Nottingham has a band that is on 6 Music's radar and firmly part of the burgeoning folk scene. Currently a five-piece, The Idolins’ third album, Bridges, is a superb collection of acoustic loveliness and there's plenty to like. With harmonic vocals at times reminiscent of The Staves, the album is a lovely mix of acoustic guitar, cello, banjo, mandolin and percussion. Nothing Missing blossoms from a downbeat opening into a stomping folk-pop single, before the absolutely beautiful piano instrumental The Bridge provides a welcome change of pace. While there's no standout track, Bridges works because of the sustained high quality of the songwriting and the obvious individual talents of the five Idolins. If you like folk-pop then this is a highly accomplished and likeable album, and certainly worth checking out. Nick Parkhouse

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Insultana
Insultana
EP (Self-released)
Formed in Nottingham in 2014, Insultana are a four-piece metalcore band and this is their debut EP. Not overly familiar with the sub-genres of the metal scene? Not to worry, metalcore is basically exactly what it says on the tin: a fusion of metal and hardcore punk that often features – as it does here – a distinctive blend of ‘clean’ vocals with some down-and-dirty screaming. We all love a good death growl, of course, but the key to lifting this kind of music out of the mundane is in the breakdown, where the relentless musical assault is temporarily lifted and a melody emerges. It’s a killer combination that Insultana have used well, especially on the almost delicate Madness & Mayhem. Think Lamb of God, think Bullet for My Valentine, and with that guitar sound, maybe even Pantera. This EP is fourteen minutes of very promising noise indeed. Tim Sorrell

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Ken Owen
Symbiotic Possibilities
Album (NGland)
The former drummer for legendary metal band Carcass suffered a brain aneurysm in 1999. The following years have seen him in and out of hospital on the road to recovery. Aside from a couple of guest drumming spots with his old bandmates, he has been working on a trilogy of records titled Not A Full Stop, But A Comma, Symbiotic Possibilities is the first of these releases to see the light of day. This isn’t a return to the riff-o-rama of his previous band. Instead, it sounds as if Owen has spent his time recuperating, gorging on a diet of techno. Tracks such as Detrimental and Electric Nightmare show that he’s lost none of his percussive might, even if he has swapped the drum kit for laptop and synths, while Growler is arguably the pick of the bunch with crunching rhythmic blows softened by house piano and fizzy samples. Paul Klotschkow

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Kumarachi
Taking Me Over
EP (Sleep Less Records)
Nottingham producer Kumarachi’s latest EP, Taking Me Over, is a five-track slice of energetic drum’n’bass that’s not really conducive to sitting and typing, so let’s keep this brief. Go Low sneaks in an absolutely filthy bass drop that’s likely to obliterate any dance floor it’s played to. Ditto Big Dutty. But it’s the title track that steals the show, with frenetic breaks, spacey synths and vocal samples that evoke Goldie’s Innercity Life and that generation. In fact, the whole EP feels quite old skool, but forward-looking at the same time, and even the awesome cover art reflects that. Kumarachi’s no stranger to mixing genres, having worked extensively with the 1st Blood crew, where his production skills fused hip hop with drum’n’bass, and even Indian vibes. But this is straight-up drum’n’bass designed to get feet moving. And on that note, I’m off for a bit of living room skanking. Shariff Ibrahim

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Ningen
Invisiblesun
EP (Self-released)
Nottingham’s DIY punk electronic scene hasn’t had much to shout about for the past few years, yet the mesmerising Invisiblesun has all the ingredients to get even those unknown to the genre reel in appreciation. The comparisons to MBV’s Loveless and even Trent Reznor’s NIN may be a bit far-fetched, however the soothing use of noise to relax rather than excite is an ability not many producers and musicians possess. The somewhat kaleidoscopic imagery Ningen manages to create through tantalising and inventive beat building is something I’ve never heard come from the streets of Notts. Midwestern Teenage Emo Band sounds straight out of Vangelis’s Bladerunner score, a cinematic ensemble designed to alleviate the soul. Music like this is never going to enter the charts, or get the critics hyping, yet somehow this is the album’s beauty – it takes a brave and incredibly assured artist to produce this level of contemporary songwriting. Jack Garofalo

You can hear a tune from each review on our Sound of the Lion podcast.

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