The Palms EP

A duo from the LA. area, Idaho deal in a very un-Californian morose tombstone blues. Think Codeine. Think Red House Painters. Think Leonard Cohen. Like them, Idaho possess gravitas (look it up). You know that their gloominess has been earned, that their pain is chronic and acute. These guys clearly have experienced some heavy shit and it burns through in these four devastating songs.

“Creep” begins in tranquil grandeur before shocking you into claustrophobic panic with dust storms of howling feedback and fierce bass roars. This is as close as Idaho have come in their brief existence to “rocking out,” as they say in the Academy. The ballad “Fall Around” has Idaho’s trademark ectoplasmic trainwhistle feedback and it gradually blossoms into a panoramic purpleskied stateliness. “Gone” is a coalblack ballad with yet more well-chiseled feedback. The closing “You Are There” is one of the best songs I’ll hear this or any year. It is (you guessed it) another brooding ballad of 3 a.m. desolation, conjuring a Stygian atmosphere with some minor chords hardly anyone ever uses that are darker than a chainsmoker’s lungs. Jeff Martin’s deep Cohenesque voice terrifies the intestinal bacteria out of ya (sounds as if he’s suffering abdominal cramps himself) as his words blur with some unspeakable pain. Unforgettable.

Idaho are taking a traditional form of music—melancholy Caucasian ballads—and making it seethe with a morbid vitality. Much respect to them. (Caroline)

 —Dave Segal