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Something to Find by Matt Bentley

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Reviewed on 25th February 2012.


Something to Find

By Matt Bentley

According to commentators at the recent BBC2 Folk Awards; the genre is making a comeback and is becoming especially popular with today's young people, but of course they would say that, wouldn't they? Usually I would just pass these kind of comments off as hopeful rhetoric coming from people who wish that the thing they love will soon become popular with the masses, but on this occasion I'm starting to think they may have a point; I definitely seem to be seeing more guys around with weird beards who whiff a bit and dress like extras from some crummy country n' western B movie, and middle class hippie girls wandering in and out of guitar shops before heading off to the pub for a pint of Theakston's Old Peculier.

First of all though, what exactly is modern folk music? If it were an umbrella it would certainly keep a lot of people dry. Don McLean won a lifetime achievement award at the recent BBC2 ceremony, and his music is very different to that of Lucy Ward (what do you mean you've never heard of her?), who took home the horizon award, whatever that is. Some of the artists there were asked this very question, and their response was either 'it's mainly acoustic guitar based music', meaning that it would technically include Tenacious D, or 'it's music that could be made at home by anyone', which I suppose could mean anything from a nine hour classical 'masterpiece', to some bloke breaking wind into a microphone.

Despite its confusing definition though; folk music definitely does have a certain feel and distinction, and Matt Bentley fits nicely into this, but I'm afraid it doesn't matter if it's folk, indie, metal, jazz or Zimbabwean bongo music, to be successful, to sell records, and to build a fan base wider than a few friends and Uncle Cecil, your songs need to have a hook. 'Something to Find' is an album full of songs that are just kind of... okay, there's nothing there that burrows into your brain and makes you think hey, I want to listen to that again, and before you 'alternative' people out there start arguing that big, catchy choruses are the tool of X Factor pop stars with their false emotion and stupid key changes; I'm saying that a hook can be anything, 'All Nightmare Long' by Metallica, for example, is a decent track, but what makes it one of my favourites is just one line, and on occasion I have found myself listening to the first 4 hours of a Rush song just to hear the 4 seconds of guitar work I enjoy.

Dynamically this album is disappointing too; it's not until track 5 'You Won't Know My Name' that percussion is introduced, and even then it's not used to good effect, the preceding songs sound flat and all seem to blend into one another. It's a similar story when it comes to the overall mood of the record; genteel and sensitive up until 'The King of Leeds' and stand out track 'Life in Reverse' which have a bit of bite and attitude, and then on to more of the same.

It would be unfair of me at this point not to highlight Matt Bentley's instrumental and vocal abilities; the acoustic guitar work throughout the album is well written and well performed, although it does occasionally border on tinkering, and his voice, despite being far from perfect, suits the music like a dressing gown suits Hugh Hefner, and adapts to the lyrics beautifully.

The harsh truth is then, that 'Something to Find' is a difficult album to enjoy, it does have its good moments, but they are few and far between, and although I am a gambling man willing to take a few risks, I certainly won't be putting any of my hard earned on Matt Bentley's name being on any of next year's BBC2 Folk Awards.



All replies to this article. Log in to post a reply.

On 25th February 2012 at 16:06 Anonymous 34697 wrote...

"It's" good moments?
Spell/grammar check or second-edit read please.


On 25th February 2012 at 20:20 Jimmy Horrigan wrote...

Marekshot - the grammar wasn't the only issue I had with this review.

Why do we have writers submitting reviews about a genre they have no interest in? That's not a review that's on a par with blogging.

If more writers reviewed music from genres they're more familiar with, this would hopefully mean a more insightful and relevant review for readers interested in that sort of music to digest.


On 27th February 2012 at 16:32 Anonymous 35023 wrote...

Hmm, not sure I agree. I often review for this site and used to find the more I stayed in my comfort zone, the more boring things got. I'm quite blessed in the fact that I can listen to absolutely any genre and get along with it and to be honest I don't really see a problem with writers working on something different to what they normally would. In truth I'm probably more understanding and likely to give a more positive review if I do cover something different.


On 27th February 2012 at 18:25 Jimmy Horrigan wrote...

I guess I like writing about the music I enjoy listening to, predominantly but not exclusively, I hasten to add. I'd rather try to describe the music on its own merit rather than say what it should or shouldn't have done. Each to their own though, eh.


On 28th February 2012 at 12:00 Anonymous 7638 wrote...

I realise that the absolute worst thing you can ever do is comment on your own reviews, and I should probably stop here, but in relation to Jimmy's point, and Lem's response of:
"I'm quite blessed in the fact that I can listen to absolutely any genre and get along with it and to be honest I don't really see a problem with writers working on something different to what they normally would!"

I absolutely agree with that sentiment, but that only works if you CAN get on with any genre and be honest and unbiased about it. If you can't do that, then as Jimmy says, that's not really a review then.

The reason I bring that up is the following sections from the review:
- "it's not until track 5... that percussion is introduced." - there's precussion on track 1; it comes in about a minute into the track.
- "Dynamically this album is disappointing... the preceding songs sound flat and all seem to blend into one another." - that's absolutely fine, but it could have been at least counterbalanced by some mention of the huge string and brass sections on the album. There's no mention of the instrumental scores at all in the review, which is a bit odd considering they're all over the ablum.

Obviously I can't come at this from an unbiased standpoint, which is why I should probably delete all of this, but reading between the lines, this is the review you'd get if you listened to the first ten seconds of each track and then skipped to the next one... which is exactly what you'd do if you didn't like folk music... which he patently doesn't seeing as his two reference points are Metallica and Rush, and given that he mis-spelled my name as Matt Bellamy (from Muse) before Dave corrected it.

I certainly don't think the review needs changing. I utterly agree that he has the right to review whatever he likes, and if he wants to pan it, then that's absolutely fine. If you can't take the bad reviews then don't put your music out there, as it were. Indeed, my ego's so huge that in my head he's obviously utterly wong and clearly an idiot, but I wouldn't be so stupid or arrogant to suggest that that's a reasonable view or one that other people would share. Also, reviews are largely ego-food anyway and I doubt it'll affect sales in any real way.

However, it is a tad galling to have something I spent a-year-and-a-half and thousands of pounds of my own cash to produce, t*ssed off by someone who clearly doesn't like the genre and, I suspect, didn't actually listen to it in any real sense. Especially as Dave's excellent SEO means that this is the review which comes up top of organic search, hahaha!

But having said that: fuck it - not to worry. Carry on, nothing to see here ;-)



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