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The Forbidden EP - Alas: Special Edition

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Album Review

Here's a lovingly packaged (cardboard foldout ‘n' booklet) pairing on one CD of two late-‘90s mood-pop gems, 1997's The Forbidden EP and 1998's fourth LP, Alas. Originally issued on Buzz, both were cut from similar cloth, and now fit snugly together. Culled to a duo from the L.A. four that made 1996's watershed Three Sheets to the Wind, just guitarist/leader Jeff Martin and surviving second guitarist Dan Seta — assisted by Alas guests such as ubiquitous drummer Joey Waronker and Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur lending voice — the pair manufactured 15 supreme mediations on solitary brooding via dreamscape four-string guitars, perfectly metered to metastasize in Martin's dusky, mumbly baritone pleading (blending well with Auf Der Maur's sweetness). These recordings' hushed silences shine as brightly as the burbling of textural brilliance (don't miss "Bass Crawl," which is what it does tethered to Crazy Horse-on-downers guitars, or the ghostly shimmering of "Scrawny" and the ominously aching "Yesterday's Unwinding"), set to Martin's curious inflections of inertia, somnambulism, and longing. These laconic rudiments (on par with Red House Painters and American Music Club, 400 miles north) fuse in two masterworks, the tom-tom-beholden "Jump Up" and the gliding, xylophone and oboe-twinkling "Only in the Desert," as timelessly warm and beautifully barren as the desert L.A. was. Martin alit for similar pastures on 2000's Hearts of Palm, 2001's Levitate, and 2005's louder The Long Gunman, but this makes great revisiting (Note: Skip the bonus CD of incoherent film cue outtakes of nothing much and five lesser songs.)

Customer Reviews

The best band you

This is a very special release which combines Idaho's wonderful Forbidden Ep from 1997, with perhaps one of their most perfect albums, Alas from the following year. The EP's highpoints are the sublime "The Thick and the Thin" and the heart-wrenching " Apricots To Armagnac". 1998's Alas somehow even manages to surpass it, with the beautiful "Jump Up" and "Only In The Desert".
But the real star here is the extra track from the Shanti Project charity record- "The Sun Is All There Is", where Jeff Martin's heartfelt vocal is enhanced by the mellifulous backing of Christy Scnabel- a truly stunning piece of music.
Idaho are one of those really special bands who are too original and idiosyncratic to ever appeal to the masses but you really should check them out!
Alan Kyle


Formed: 1991 in California

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most prolific, consistent, and unsung acts classified as slowcore, Los Angeles, California's Idaho is led by four-string guitarist and vocalist Jeff Martin, an unflinching songwriter who gained comparisons to Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), and Neil Young from the few journalists who paid attention. Despite the lack of recognition from the press and a low profile, Idaho gained a decent-sized underground following through a steady release schedule during...
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The Forbidden EP - Alas: Special Edition, Idaho
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