December, 1994


' :       This Way Out

r :••                 (CAROLINE)              • • -     .     :


HERE'S A SPOT EARLY ON IN JACK Kerouac's On the Road, where after travel­ing the rails through the Midwest for an inde­terminate amount of time, the narrator wakes in a strange hotel room at four p.m. and looks out the window through a sunny haze, for an instant not knowing who he is, where he is, where he's come from or where he's going. That odd feeling of adventure and dislocation permeates This Way Out.

Singing like a weary beggar or a spoiled child,-. Los Angeles native Jeff Martin, a.k.a. Idaho, writes still songs on his dissonant four-string guitars that possess the isolated glow of Kurt Co-bain and the sweetness of Neil Young, skewed, perhaps, through the ghost of Hank Williams.

"Nothing to do just getting through a day by day" is the album's opening line and it doesn't get any brighter. Songs like the Satie-like "Sweep," the wobbly "Weird Wood" and the beautifully stark "Taken" show Martin to be a nostalgic loner, distilling the slacker ethic down to a somnambulist art. He sings about "time crawling out of me" and "taking my stupid self from the shelf" as guitars haunt and spiral around him. At times, as in "Forever," you wait for the music to stop altogether to trail off in the echo of a final plucked chord.

Where Cobain was truly tortured, Jeff Mar­tin has simply created a style. But knowing that doesn't decrease the pleasure of these carnival-like songs. Childlike and simple, Martin has taken his late-afternoon window's view of L.A. and built an insular environment around it where he can muse and dream. —Ken Micallef