October, 2001

Idaho: Levitate (Idaho Music)

I have never been within the borders of Idaho (the state) and I don't know if Idaho (the band) singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Martin has either. After all, the band formed in 1992 in Los Angeles. But I imagine that Idaho (the band) would be an appropriate soundtrack while driving down a lonely stretch of Idaho (the state) highway through the night. The piano-laced music is moody and the lyrics introspective and/or abstract, following the pattern of their slowcore peers such as American Music Club. Among more current bands the temptation is to compare Idaho to Sparklehorse or maybe the Elysian Fields. But Idaho avoids the studio gimmickry or spacey airiness (respectively) of those bands. This is a straightforward performance, letting the musicianship show and allowing lyrics like "every light is on fire / the final scene is empty / your beautiful face is alive / what the hell am I supposed to do" or "you won't give me a clue / that I ever understand / but I know you're / giving me what I need" to be worn right out on the sleeve. As the leaves turn, the world changes, and time passes on, this record is a good backdrop for quiet contemplation.

(James Baumann)

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