Kid Icarus – The Metal West Release Date – 02/14/06 Record Label – Summersteps Records
Named after a cult classic Nintendo platform game from the mid eighties, Kid Icarus is really Eric Schlittler of Summersteps Records. He’s a lo-fi shrink for his own indie dorkfest, The Metal West, the third installment of the Icarus catalog. The man’s a bit kooky and his music is a bit psychedelic, both being very obvious in “Her Song For Beth And The Sideshow” and the instrumental “700 Angry Ghosts.“
Interesting sums it up best. Grit and ambient indie coincide with fuzzy guitars, punchy piano, and headstrong acoustic guitar. Even though The Metal West is rooted in folksy, harmonica undertones, the 11-track collection chronicles stories and lifetimes like cosmic travels. With a doomed ambience, listening to Kid Icarus makes me feel a bit like a loner, which I like (see “My Anthracite Headache”). This impending depression is its selling point, like the half-serious acoustic geetar in “A Retail Hell” or the pulsating bass in “Field Song And Record.” These are all redeeming qualities, but they are not enough to get me as self-reflective as Schlittler hopes. This is probably because I am not “indie” enough. Don’t take that condescendingly; this man could be a genius and I’m probably just too shallow to notice.
A slew of images barricade my mind when I listen to The Metal West, the most significant one being a man (Schlittler) sitting in a log cabin, self-recording in true DIY spirit, and eating unsalted cashews. Whether or not Schlittler owns a real life Lincoln Log or not, you get the picture. In fact, it’s loaded with the picture. The DIY crackle, hearty, whiskey-tinged chords, and multiple harmonica solos are a summation of Schlittler’s three-dimensional flannel fabric. The Metal West is a loose concept album about a surrealistic existence and those that are lost in the mix (and some beekeepers too), but I wouldn’t have “gotten it” if I hadn’t read the one-sheet. I’m concluding this idea is all part of “the picture.”
Primitive, sometimes nonchalant vocals go with the patchy grain of the man’s folk traditions and natured twist of back road PA. Part of me winces to make this vocal parallel (and I’m not sure why), but Schlittler is what would happen if Jesse Lacey got lost in the woods with an ounce of pot. And as much as I would like to forest-frolic with Mr. Lacey, I am not convinced that Schlittler is a great vocal contender in the same way he is instrumentally. This is sort of like my short-lasting attempt to “enjoy” Conor Obherst as a singer.
I have this album somewhere actually, but I never listened to it. It's kinda weird you can list both Elliott Smith and Sonic Youth there, but I guess it's possible. I'll have to give it a listen when I come across it again.