FEBRUARY 8, 1995

Idaho, playing at the Middle East tonight, release 'This Way Out'

Idaho's new This Way Out LP, which follows one other album and and EP, is essentially a repeat performance of the group's angst ridden, introspectively style. Lead singer-songwriter Jeff Martin is seemingly comfortable writing his lyrics within a shroud of narcotic fog. His somewhat eclectic style is highlighted with performances that reflect his jazz background, such as on the song "Taken".

The overall quality of the band's music is mediocre and rather familiar. Reminiscent of the Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. (especially on its punk like excursions), at times Idaho also possesses the atmosphere of the prolific and eclectic group Dead Can Dance. The highlights of the album include curious melodies which sound Cure-esque, and interesting textures apparently resulting from Martin's jazz experience. The songs "Fuel" and "Crawling Out" are quite good even if they could have been on the Singles soundtrack. In fact, the song "Fuel" is also on the soundtrack to the movie Floundering.

The Idaho experience is rather elusive and heavy. Martin attaches a huge amount of weight on all his songs, making them rather morose and lugubrious. The occasionally biting lyrics like "she was once a queen but nobody cares and that's fine because I'm inside the glourious realm of your ways" conveys Martin's frustration, sarcasm, and boredom.

Despite the overall despair of his themes, "Sweep" successfully transcends the mundane of everyday life with the lyrics "wrap a golden wire around my crown...and every sundown sweeps on by ailerons and the fire roads will cut their way". And while on this lyrical journey, one sometimes finds a bit of hope, as on the lyric "cause I may have found a way to light a candle." However, he does try a little too hard to play the tragic figure with his intermittently monotone, unfeeling voice.

To Idaho's credit, This Way Out, is a good mixture of punk, rock, and pop. It is a decent effort and will probably be on many "Generation X" movie soundtracks. However, due to the fact that Martin has taken the effort to put his emotions through an amp, we owe it to him to take a listen.

Idaho is opening for the Cranes Downstairs at the Middle East, tonight.

- by Jennifer Liao