Reviews for Kid Icarus - The Metal West
From Dream Magazine #6 by George Parsons:
"Kid Icarus takes the kaleidoscopic view with an admirably schizophonic approach to his stylistic endeavors here. From nervous mathematical stacks of angst, to lo-fi melodic acoustics. Rather grand pop structures made out of guitars, piano, thermal dynamics, and an abiding sense of fatalistic urgency. Maybe something like the Zombies heard from a subterranean basement. The sounds of a room, slow accumulations of sound and folk traditions half remembered through lifetimes passed. The long line of days that comprises a life. Elevated shoegazing heroic olympics, and some ecstatic psychedelic intergalatic wiggling too."
From Wonka Vision by Joseph Lanerd:
"Though Moscow, PA's Kid Icarus can play the music diversity card, it is the louder tracks on his new CD, The Metal West, that convince the listener Icarus is more than just another guitar-loving, small town indie artist. Whether it is the wonderful fuzz of the Interpol-esque instrumental "700 Angry Ghosts", or the melancholy metallic churning of "Marlowe's Blues", Icarus sounds best when illustrating the metal part of his imagined west. Lead track "Beekeepers on the Edge of Town" is perfect, fuzzed-out pop-grunge reminiscent of Regretfully Yours-era Superdrag, only with more teeth. It's not all fuzz though. The majority of the record is acoustically based. This softer side of The Metal West is pleasant but does not match up to the stronger, more concise rock moments. But what makes The Metal West so endearing is that the disc sounds homegrown. Icarus cleverly, and one can assume purposefully, avoids the slick production route of many upcoming bands in favor of the grit and thunder of pummeling drums and ready-to-blow amps. An indie record that actually sounds indie! What an invention!"
From Clamour Magazine Jan/Feb '06 by Patrick Sean Taylor
"This record has very little to do with either heavy metal music or the Nintendo video game Kid Icarus. It's more like Elliot Smith's later work. It shares the same experiments with composition, the same slightly depressive tone, and the same sad beauty. Most importantly, the foundation of the music is solid songwriting with a penchant for beautiful, folky pop.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist/Summersteps label owner Eric Schlittler is much less tormented than the late Smith, which shows in both his music and lyrics. They aren't nearly as fragile or intense as anything on, say Either/Or. All of the songs paint pictures of a variety of characters: There's the alcoholic upstairs, angry ghosts, beekeepers on the edge of town, the florist with a rare disease and aversion to light. Each song has an accompanying illustration in the CD booklet, collages of sketches, dioramas, paintings, and photographs that depict what the song is about, not unlike a Trail of Dead insert. A lot of care went into the presentation of this disc.
Eric has put out a ton of records, both with Kid Icarus and with other projects, and his experience shows in the technical quality of the music and recording. The instruments are layered with different effects to create a tapestry of sound that's interesting without being too crowded. The tracks vary from delicate acoustic songs to more electric guitar driven numbers, all showcasing musicianship that is skillful without being wanky. The Metal West is a solid effort, and worth a listen."
From The New Scheme Fall '05 by Andre Medrano
"The Metal West is the third album released by Kid Icarus. Although the name was familiar, before getting this in the mail I had never listened to the band. This turned out to be one of the best records I reviewed for this issue. Each song on here tells the story of a person or a situation, stories which are not glamourous or sanguine but have the grit of authentic American lives. Kid Icarus hail from a part of northeastern Pennsylvania whose best days are behind it. Towns like Scranton and Wilkes -Barre that boomed along with industry in the 20th century but have little in the present or future to recommend them. It is a region that is well suited to serve as inspiration for the songs on here, songs that chronicle the unpleasant under-sides of life. Musically there is some variety on this album. According to the press sheet some of the previous stuff was big on the lo-fi, which isn't the case across the board here, but one can see the tendency to work in that medium. There are some musically sparse songs that hand over space to the vocals and communicate much with the absence of sound. Many of the songs have a good bit more going on, with animated yet somewhat melancholy guitar work. There were several points on this album that reminded me of early '90s college rock type stuff, in a good way. A band that I can think can be used as a good reference point it Soul Asylum from their pre-MTV days, when they were putting out records on Twin Tone. Speaking of Twin Tone, another fitting comparison might be a slightly more sedated version of The Replacements. The Metal West is a record that is at once an enjoyable listen and an artistic endeavour of substance."
From sctas.com by k.
"She is slipping constantly through your hands / She is moving constantly in your plans".The Metal West was one of the years strongest independent releases that could have easily been overlooked (but SPIN featured the guys as a daily pick in August - so that's a major plus).
Fronted by Summersteps CEO Eric Schilttler, Kid Icarus (yeah - the little cupid guy from NES) can transform from significantly crafted ("A Retail Hell", "The Murderess") to non-traditional / experimental (do hear "700 Angry Ghosts") in the blink of a patched eye. Add to the equation a member by the name of Psychatrone Rhonedakk on Moog (see: "Her Song For Beth and the Sideshow") and you have yourself an album that makes flirting with fire the sexiest thing since threatening your parents with bloody icicles.
Complete with visual art (drawings, sculptures and dioramas) from the gentle hand of Cassie Rose Kobeski - I'd put each dime I wish I owned on Kid Icarus making Moscow (PA) a broken household name with whatever they choose to do next. I'm not exactly sure what it is you're currently "in to", but The Metal West should be somewhere close by. This is special.
From Punk Planet Fall '06 by Rex Reason
In 2005 it’s awfully hard to do straight rock and not sound like the 50th iteration of someone else. Quasi-one man band Kid Icarus realizes this and mixes folk with fuzzy rock, lo-fi with hi-fi, and one-man performances with full rock band performances. Posers take note."
From indieworkshop.com by Philip Del Costello
I never owned Kid Icarus, a friend of mine named Doug had a copy when we were in grade school. Doug was a bit of an odd guy when you consider the norm of the neighborhood where we were brought up. Both of his parents were a bit eccentric, this appeared to cause his accelerated interest in science, space, and staying indoors while everyone else was occupied with dirt, throwing rocks, and riding bikes. The name Kid Icarus makes me think of that classic Nintendo game, my childhood, and the glasses wearing, always clean and always-fidgety Doug.
I had never heard of Kid Icarus the music project, which has been Eric Schlitter's own little project since the late nineties that has found him releasing a few cassettes and CDs and grounding a bit of a following ever since. Schlitter handles a bevy of instruments and enlists a few friends to fill in the gaps with percussion, keys, and what have you, this all leads to eleven guitar driven pieces to the songwriter's intimate and varied parade of melody.
A few songs in you can draw similarities between Kid Icarus and Kind of Like Spitting, Logan Whitehurst & the Jr. Science Club, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, and a small bit of Tom Waits. Now that's either going to be too many comparisons for you or just enough to narrow it down, either way, you've got a dartboard to throw at, take a toss. The fuzzy "Beekeepers On The Edge Of Town" is a pretty good example of what Schlitter's got in mind for his listeners as it leads the album off. His vocals follow the dirty guitars and almost hand off the weight of the attention to them. The riff almost sound too simple to be able to suck you in, but they do. And makes you start dancing in the best Charlie Brown swagger that you can muster. To be honest, the first time I heard the song it didn't do much for me, namely because I didn't make enough space for it during a full week where I listened to nothing but Converge and Snapcase (this happens, and it's best to just let it pass through and start from the beginning of what you were trying to focus your attention on when you've reached the end of your musical bender).
"The Murderess" shows Schlitter's strength to write a more velvety ballad in the midst of his noisy pop promenade. The combination of even more fuzzy guitars, some acoustic strums, and Schlitter's yearning vocals make for a sweetly desperate story of a young lady whose got the songwriter's obsessive attention, this one points toward a Neutral Milk Hotel-type composition (yes, why not do one more likening, the horse is already dead.) and may very well be the best song on the record.
As soon as I gave it a chance, ‘The Metal West" became a good companion in the last week. I haven't heard any of his other efforts, but I'm willing to bet that this is the one that Eric Schlitter has been wanting to make for a while. The album is comprised of equal parts of acoustic and bristly electric guitars, some keys come in and out to accent the songs just enough before they weigh them down, it all points to just a good little record that you might want to check out when you've got a wee bit time on your hands.
Kid Icarus - Spin.com's Band The Day August 8th 2005 by Lane Brown
Kid Icarus was a primitive, two-dimensional platform game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1987, it's since become something of a cult classic. Players controlled the fate of Pit, a tiny, pixelated protagonist whose unenviable task was to save Angel Land from the evil Medusa while wearing what looked like a diaper. Needless to say when Nintendo moved into the third dimension, Kid Icarus was not a franchise that came with them.
In this advanced age of Xboxes and PSPs, Kid Icarus lives on only in the hearts and minds of nerds like Eric Schlittler, who's gone and named his band after the 8-bit side scroller. Schlittler's musical philosophy is like that of a less grimey, more Pennsylvanian Mike Skinner: He writes and records (mostly) in his home studio, occasionally inviting friends to fill in any gaps.
The Metal West (out today on Schlittler's own Summersteps Records) is KI's third LP and, according to the press kit, Schlitter's first crack at a "hi-fi recording." On a scale of NES to Gamecube, the production still ranks about a Super Nintendo, but it suits the songs: West has a mellow, spacey vibe that would collapse under the weight of a slicker treatment. By himself, Schlittler sounds a bit like Elliott Smith, but when his friends show up (Justin Marchegiani, Ted Baird, and Thad Moyer on lead guitar, bass, and drums respectively) they're Pavement on psychedelics.
Opener "Beekeepers on the Edge of Town" and the title track are two of the more immediate highlights, but the whole record benefits from repeated listening, nor does it require special cheat codes to access higher levels.Comes With A Smile"(#19) by Justin Spicer
"Summersteps, the little label that could, has had a solid 2005. The label secured some of the biggest indie names (Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Six Organs Of Admittance, Okkervil River) to bolster a second tribute to Jandek, and now the label is in the midst of bringing us great, unheralded talent courtesy of Eric Schlittler.
Schlittler, also known by his musical pseudonym Kid Icarus, has been dropping cassettes and CDs all over the place during the past decade on top of constantly improving Summersteps and its roster. His lo-fi sensiblities, coupled with his love of classic rock albums, have birthed some of the finest, fuzziest and most durable albums most artists only dream. However. 'The Metal West' takes Schlittler down a much different path; a path that still yields great music, just with a different spin.
The first 'sacrifice' is the lo-fi sound, which is replaced with shimmering high end production. Don't let the hi-fi treatment fool you, as the songs are still as human and accessible as anything Schlittler and his frequent company has created. The defined sound adds a crunchier edge to the album, helping to add drama to the slowly building concept of a place and time everyone knows about, but rarely thinks about.
Don't let the term 'concept' scare you - this isn't a concept album per se, but it does ride a linear wave of thought. The characters brought to life through the continuous flow of stories and sound, and 'The Metal West' relies on the imagery and fairy tales of everyday people doing everyday things. And as boring as it might sound in writing, the fuzz of Perils Of Dating In 1899, the stark softness of My Anthracite Headache and the epic acoustics of the title track bring to life the inner struggle of life without the whining and moaning upon which most of Eric Schlittler's contemporaries rely on. 'The Metal West' is as real and personal as storytelling gets, and it's up to the listeners to decide wheather they would rather choose some askew fantasy from some out of touch artist or living their own life accompanied by the soundtrack and perspective Kid Icarus can give."
leftoffthedial.com review by Jacob Clifton
"The Metal West is Kid Icarus's third full-length album, taking their home-recorded sound and adding some studio twists. The album starts strong, with “Beekeepers on the End of Town.” Sounding somewhat like the Pixies with Bob Mould on vocals, or a lo-fi Foo Fighters demo tape – that aggressive, scratchy romance: “with you here the stinging never seems so bad.” However, this commercial sound is more the exception than the rule. Only this track, “Perils of Dating in 1899” (which would make a great live opening number), and album favorite “Marlowe’s Blues,” give that retro mid-90's pop sound an electric edge. Uneven and sludgy acoustics make these modern tracks sound more like demos, but the yearning chorus and strong verse structures make the sound quality seem like a choice reminiscent of lo-fi geniuses like Beck or Malkmus.
“700 Angry Ghosts” is a goofy misstep of a cosmic instrumental – although the ending is quite good – while the title track uses its pensive, lonely Yo La Tengo feedback to great effect, with layers of guitar and harmonica contributing to a delicately-constructed and powerful power-pop lament. “A Retail Hell” is a Mike Doughty kind of tune, of that stripped-down punk-band-goes-acoustic school, whose Elliot Smith conceits and harmonies make it one of the best songs on the album. “My Anthracite Headache,” which begins as a home-recorded, repetitive time-waster becomes something altogether different at the one-minute mark: a big-sound, portentous and clever meditation on relationships.
Finally, “The Murderess,” “Field Song And Record,” and “Her Song For Beth And The Sideshow” form a beautiful, meditative triptych of pain and loss taking the Cure's tricks and making them new again, and recapitulating the foregoing album so effectively that the listener feels almost as though he's been prepared by what came before. "Song for Beth" is a rousing, large-scale ending to a pretty impressive album. One hopes for even better dynamics and studio sound on the next recording, because the musicianship and arrangements are heaven-sent and radio-ready. This band deserves attention, but the lo-fi DIY feel does not really suit the band's musical skill."
Outlsideleft.com review by Alex V. Cook
Brian Eno once was quoted saying that Jimi Hendrix was his favorite lyricist. Not guitarist, but lyricist, citing the lilting free oddballness of “The Wind Cried Mary.” My reaction was perhaps the same as many, that um, you don’t listen to Hendrix for the lyrics, but it did open me up a little, realizing that you get what you get from something, irrelevant to what the producer wanted you to get, a lesson very valuable when I started doing art exhibitions. People looooooovvvvvvveeee the piece you threw together at the end to fill up that little spce of wall, the one you considered leaving in the car when doing the installation. The one you think is brilliant and was wrought from tears and bleeding fingers and sleepless nights is the one that gets a furtive try-to-be-polite-to-the-desperate-artist nod when you ask someone about it.
The reason I mention this is because in listening to Kid Icarus’ The Metal West, I get a general sense that the Kids are big fans of the mid career Sonic Youth (as am I) but for the “wrong” reasons: instead of the screwdriver-in-the-damaged-strat-plate tectonics, they have seemed to latch onto the melodic sense the Youth uses to keep their songs afloat. The opening rocker “Beekeepers on the Edge of Town” sounds like a b-side of the of something off Sister.
On the rest of the record, the Kids take a more rambly jangly acoustic approach to the same sense of melody that serves them better than the mild rock machinations of the first track. “A Retail Hell” sounds like so many recent faux-folk acts, but opts to actually be clever instead of merely pose as clever, and the reference to their remote Pennsylvania coal-mined landscape “My Anthracite Headache” evokes the honest dramatics of a Destroyer or a Bright Eyes without submerging the song in it. There are loads of catchy hooks on this record, like on “Marlowe’s Blues” but the real shiners are the droney stretched out simple guitar passages of “The Murderess” and especially the resplendent title track. The slow build up of acoustic and distorted guitars in“The Metal West” with a chemical haze of muted harmonica hanging in the air is worth the price of admission here.
The chimey-then-punky-then-moody “700 Angry Ghosts” is a somewhat goofy yet effective little rocker that I think best relates the myriad of styles that go into this group, and the somber “White Church Road” with its deft acoustic picking and organ haze show their strengths with the best line of the album
He’s Captain Alcohol He’s Captain Love
This was my first introduction to Kid Icarus, who have released a couple albums on the scrappy Summersteps label, but as they/he (you never know how many people are in a “band” these days) gain their/his grip on the natural style inside, I hope I hear more."
Electric City article for 12/17/05 farewell show at Test Pattern Art Space
Also reviews of The Metal West and Down In A Mirror - A Second Tribute To Jandek by John Hood:
"Like Conor McGuigan (Test Pattern founder), Eric Schlittler follows the age-old indie tradition: If you want something done, you Do It Yourself. When he heard things in his head, he formed a band; when he wanted others to hear his hearings, he started a label; and when he found a contingent of likewisedly-inclined, he put their hearings out there too.
Way Out There.
Kid Icarus is, of course, his band, and Summersteps is his label. The band's moniker's nicked from a classic NES game; the label's named for the seasonal stairway of Eric's old Moscow abode. Initially Kid Icarus was Eric and a revolving door of revealers, now it's morphed into a ready, steady foursome rounded soundly by guitarist Justin Marchegiani, bassist Ted Baird, and drummer Thad Moyer.Summersteps began as the stamp under which to press the issuances of Eric's Kid; it too has evolved, and now serves both as a refuge for some of Scranton's swellest soundslingers Marshmallow Staircase, Lewis and Clarke and Psychatrone Rhonedakk, among them as well as a forum for the tributary musings to Outsider legend Jandek.But it is to the Kid that we must first turn. Like indie-alt poster boy Jeff Tweedy, Schlittler's a foremost a fan. And he goes well outta his way to be so, scouring the racks and the stacks and the facts of our melodic existence. Currently purring on his decks are '70s forgottens Judee Sill (an Asylum alum) and Bill Fay (Time of the Last Persecution), Lousiana's-own Quintron (who reportedly come off like a cross between Denny and Jonze), his old pal and hero, Brother JT (he of the very Original Sins), and, yes, Neil Diamond's Rubinified 12 Songs.The fandemonium is evident in his My Spacing (citings range from Syd Barrett to Sedadoh), it is evident in his hype sheets (nods to Robyn Hitchcock and John Cale), and it is evident in the now-then sound of his playfully acute Kid.Kid Ic's latest, The Metal West which btw is hyperimaginatively imaged by a Finstered Miss Cassie Rose Kobeski high-fidelically follows the lo-fi charm of Summersteps slabs Maps of the Saints (1999) and Be My Echo (2002). Lyrically cast with characters that'd make a Crews man proud, and sinned in enough self-soak to keep Cormac McCarthy an outward-bound solipsist, The Metal West is about as incongruous an offering as beautiful incongruity can beget without whiling away the pure pop sheenery of it all.Bear witness: "Beekeepers on the Edge of Town" is like The Amboy Duking it out with some psych-screened Gang of Bloc Partiers, trippy, pithy, proto-post neo; the seasonally apropos "A Retail Hell" is a Badly Drawn Belle & Sebastian done to Minutemen proportion; "My Anthracite Headache" is so wondrously Guided By Voices that one would swear it must come from above and could well be Scranton's theme song, though the exalted Chamber might not get the nod of it all; "White Church Road" (this hack'sutmost fave) travels down and breaks up as if Elliot Smith were in the very head of the songster; as does "Field Song and Record," though the latter does so even more melancholically (if that's possible), while the Flamingly-titled "Her Song for Beth and The Sideshow" is like a loopy Liplock around a Moogwamp by Mogwai.
Then there's the tributations. Down In A Mirror (which could well be titled Down in A Minor), like it's predecessor, Naked in the Afternoon, boasts some of indie's most cred-worthies Moore, Bright Eyes Low, then; Tweedy, Brother JT, the Mountain Goats now in addition to some of Scranton's finest. Spooky and sad and as far inside the Outside as Daniel Johnston or Roky Erickson (Is it a coincidence that Texas makes for such great inner shakes?), the Jandek tribute is a tribute to a world well beyond just about everything there is to be beyond about. And a tribute to the fortitude of the man known as Kid. Schlittler's come a long, long way since the heydays when he and his muse-accomplice Miss Cassie Rose left cassette tapes on the floor of New York City record stores. Kid Icarus nabbed Spins Band of the Day back on August 12; where they were plugfully compared to the likes of Pavement and Beck, and scores upon scores of the rabid and ribald are slingin Kids praises. Best: Not only is his stuff now officially available in the racks of the same stores he once floored, but he and his cohorts have been hitting that some of that same big town's most exalted stages.And of course Kid Icarus does Scranton. If you've seen 'em once, you know enough to see 'em twice, thrice, more. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, well now's the high time. Summersteps Sound Series continues apace this Saturday the 17th at the space soon-to-be formerly known as Test Pattern.On the bill: Doses, Yer Sweet Chimneys, and, slipping in for the incredibly auspicious occasion, the inimitable Brother JT. Whether you come to celebrate the Sound of Scranton or you come to mourn the loss of Scranton's indie friendliest venue, you simply must come. 'Cause if you don't do it yourself, no one else is gonna do it for you."