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Album Review

The first two songs on an album are often deceptive, representing the whole less effectively than any given pair of selections deeper in the sequence. Judging from the rumbling guitar intro of the opening "Wondering the Fields" and the strained seething of the following "20 Years," Idaho's Levitate sounds like it could be a return to the stormy, full-band Three Sheets to the Wind. But it turns out to be a ruse, a trick played by Jeff Martin to cast the listener into a web of piano ballads and wispy instrumentals. Often basing the songs on his classically trained piano talents, his haggard voice, woozy and hazy tape effects, and gentle percussive shuffles, the majority of this album is actually Idaho at their least ornamented, with more open spaces than ever. Further proof that the busier opening songs are misleading is the personnel: Martin strips it down like early Idaho, only enlisting occasional drumming from Alex Kimmel, a hardcore fan who sent Martin a tape of his playing and was asked to contribute. Otherwise, everything heard is Martin in his full ragged glory. In more than one sense, Levitate is the perfect title for an Idaho album. The releases are carrying more atmosphere with each turn, and Martin himself is hovering well above most of his hipper peers.


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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Levitate, Idaho
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