Idaho’s “slowcore” music will put you to sleep

In the 1980’s a geography teacher challenged his students to put together the biggest music festival possible using only bands with geographical names. You can probably guess most of the names the students put together, like Boston, Chicago, Alabama, Kansas and America, each of whom had many hits on the pop charts. Add to that Asia, Europe, Nazareth, Berlin and maybe Orleans. As the list and geographical locations get more obscure, you might see groups like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Little River Band, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Linkin Park (named for Lincoln Park in Los Angeles), Miami Sound Machine, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Manhattan Transfer, the Georgia Satellites, Cypress Hill, Black Oak Arkansas, the Bay City Rollers, the New York Dolls, L.A. Guns, the Ohio Players, Brownsville Station, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Florida Georgia Line, DC Talk, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, the Backstreet Boys, Portugal. The Man, Gorky Park and Big in Japan. If you add in regional bands, indie groups and bands practically nobody has ever heard of, the list probably would end up with hundreds of entries. In fact, chances are that at some point every state, country, city and neighborhood has had a namesake band. For our purposes, did you know there’s a rock band called Idaho? They were formed in 1992, and they’re still playing. But they’re not from Idaho. They formed in Los Angeles, and, according to some music critics, they were a key group in the 1990’s genre known as “slowcore”. Slowcore is also known to some as sadcore, and it’s a subgenre of indie rock or alternative rock known for songs with slow tempos, minimalist instrumentation and subdued lyrical performances. It sounds as if it would be the perfect format for a group made of up musicians who like to perform but hate to show off. On the Internet you can find slowcore compared to other genres like dream pop, post-rock, folk, americana, drone music, ambient music, shoegaze and midwest emo. If your favorite music is “whatever’s on the radio right now”, you might not know much about subgenres, but they all have fans somewhere. In 1998, the music newspaper “San Francisco Weekly” described slowcore by stating, “The best thing about slowcore is that they demand that the listener pay attention, and the worst thing about it is that it’s likely you’ll fall asleep by the third song.” Anyway, the band Idaho was formed by high school buddies Jeff Martin and John K. Berry (not to be confused with country artist John Berry). They were signed to Caroline Records in 1992 and released three albums. Then they released another on Buzz Records, and six more distributed by Idaho Music, their own label. Their latest album is called “Lapse” and was released in 2023. Berry passed away in 2016, so the band now consists mainly of Martin with a musician named Robert Fronzo. If you’d like to find out more about them, check You never know. If music described as “existentially introspective songs and cathartic screaming” appeals to your ear or curiosity, you might love them. But if you’re looking for insight about the Gem State, your experience might vary.