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For a little over a decade, sad-sack San Francisco balladeer Mark Kozelek has been working hard to perfect a kind of slow, methodical rock music thatís so personal you feel a little embarrassed listening to it, as if youíd suddenly got a peek into your older brotherís diary. Just a couple hours away from the Red House Painter, in Los Angeles, Idaho main man Jeff Martin has been tweaking his SoCal version of Kozelekís heartburn for almost as long, upping the burnt-out, sun-blasted desperation of Kozelekís slo-mo Neil Young fixation and adding an elegiac elegance to the pitiful proceedings.
On Levitate, Martinís sixth Idaho disc, he gets close to crafting the musical equivalent of a hazy LA sunset ó breathtakingly beautiful, but loaded with the regret of a plastic life lived too quickly. To that end, hushed electric guitars collide with rude bursts of feedback, skeletal piano lines wash over drums that sound like a birdís wings, and Martin wails pensively into the ocean. Heís particularly effective on the glistening "For Granted": "When you start taking everything for granted/Thatís when the light turns red . . . Sleeping behind the wheel will leave you stuck on the 101 forever."
BY MIKAEL WOOD
this review is/was online at Boston Phoenix
and is available here for archival purposes only