Cold Comfort

Idaho - People Like Us Should Be Stopped: Live Volume One -8-

Desolate mope-rock is harder to pull off than it may seem. Idaho show here why they were once the undisputed kings of the genre.

People Like Us is from 1993, the era of Idaho's gut-wrenchingly intense debut EP, The Palms, and genius debut album, Year After Year. In the years after years since, singer/songwriter Jeff Martin has grown a lot happier and has predictably released sunnier albums. But this album is the aural equivalent of a year-long eclipse following a nuclear war. Most of it was recorded in a huge wooden art center in Tuscon, AZ, giving expansive reverb to the band's already menacing, cathartic songs. Martin's voice is a force of nature, practically rumbling through the walls, and songs like "You Are There" and "Gone" crush any mistaken notions of Idaho as a "slowcore" band. "Here to Go" (quicktime excerpt) is another jaw-droppingly powerful slab of raw nerves that could kill a grizzly bear from ten paces. In '93, they were close in spirit to Joy Division and close in sound to Swans, thanks to guitarists Martin and Jeff Berry strumming out chords thick with feedback and desolation. Unfortunately, the instrumental segues are tacked onto the end, not in between actual album cuts where they would be most effective. Berry's rambling, reflective liner notes refer to everything from the name of the trek (the Kick Your Fucking Head In tour), intraband fistfights, the broken heroin needle stuck in the drummer's arm throughout the whole tour, etc. The band is not all doom and gloom now, as the funny logo of their new self-funded record company shows; it's the word "IDAHO" atop the outline of the state of California. If not for its short running time and exclusion of key songs ("The Only Road," "Memorial Day," "God's Green Earth," "Save"), this CD would get a 9 or higher. But please go buy it anyway if you want to remain my pal.

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