Idaho This Way Out
Taylor Vaughan-A&E Editor
This sophomore release from the L.A.-based duo, now actually a solo act, is a more digestible version of the band's dark, often unapproachable sound. Their earlier releases were well-liked by critics but not very popular to the masses.
The album combines Jeff Martin, lead singer and surviving member of the band's earlier incarnation, talked with me briefly about the new album and lineup changes. He was traveling to Austin at the time, busily trying to juggle the phone and a van full of fellow band members.
"It was a little scary at first," admits Martin, talking about the period just after losing co-writer and guitarist John Berry. "It was just me by myself, and I had to put a record together in five weeks," he adds. He attributes this situation to much of the album's new sound, explaining that this way out was really a solo project, and an experimental one at that.
"It gave me a chance to actually write parts to a song,' Martin said. "All a song was to him (Berry) was writing some chords and then putting a lot of feedback over it. Then I would put bass and sing over it. He didn't believe in structure or the relationship between parts and themes and melodies."
"To him it was all about emotion and that's great, but it gets a little boring," Martin adds, "This time I felt like I could really craft something but with only five weeks I think I just got started. That's part of why this album has such a vulnerable feel. Much of it is experimental, and I was only just getting my feet wet."
The album has an almost somber mood to it, but you can really afford to embrace a melancholy mood and wallow in it, never leaving bed. "If you listen to recordings of me playing piano when I was eight years old, it kinda sounds like that too," says Martin. "I must be dealing with some past Karma."
The sound works well, particularly in the more structured atmosphere of This Way Out's lighter more "rockin"' feel. Some tracks, like "Weird Wood," carry the listener into a beautifully textured, stark world of slow, spacey guitars and droning vocals. "That song ["Crawling Out"], as well as some other songs like "Fuel", sound like they're making a foray down a different path, at least as far as the "Idaho" mood," says Martin. "Those songs are songs that I never really intended to be on the album at all-, it was just sort of me f***ing around in the studio and then saying 'Wait a minute, let's see what I can do with this style'," he adds.
Interestingly, the O.J. Simpson murder investigation and resulting media circus had an effect on the recording as well. He was recording in his parents home, near the now infamous Brentwood area when the case broke, apparently all the helicopters buzzing about got onto the opening seconds of the song "Glow" a song that Martin describes' as' "almost perky."
"It was unbelievably moronic how long they were hovering up there when nothing was even going on," Martin said.
Martin has since joined up with three friends to create a new version of Idaho which is currently on tour with the Cranes.