The Portland Phoenix
Oct 25 - Nov 1, 2001

[Music Reviews]

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*** Idaho


(Idaho Music)

For a little over a decade, sad-sack San Francisco balladeer Mark Kozelek has been working hard to perfect a kind of slow, methodical rock music that’s so personal you feel a little embarrassed listening to it, as if you’d suddenly got a peek into your older brother’s diary. Just a couple hours away from the Red House Painter, in Los Angeles, Idaho main man Jeff Martin has been tweaking his SoCal version of Kozelek’s heartburn for almost as long, upping the burnt-out, sun-blasted desperation of Kozelek’s slo-mo Neil Young fixation and adding an elegiac elegance to the pitiful proceedings.

On Levitate, Martin’s sixth Idaho disc, he gets close to crafting the musical equivalent of a hazy LA sunset — breathtakingly beautiful, but loaded with the regret of a plastic life lived too quickly. To that end, hushed electric guitars collide with rude bursts ofýfeedback, skeletal piano lines wash over drums that sound like a bird’s wings, and Martin wails pensively into the ocean. He’s particularly effective on the glistening “For Granted”: “When you start taking everything for granted/That’s when the light turns red . . . Sleeping behind the wheel will leave you stuck on the 101 forever.”

— Mikael Wood

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