Cd Reviews

‘Kick’ the System

A rock ‘n’ roll album review.

By Anna Walsh

Songwriter Dave Hause has undergone some changes of late. A recently sober father, Hause’s latest record, Kick, named for the infant legs of his new twins, takes a magnifying glass to the structures many of us support. 

Kick is Hause’s fourth record, the second one he’s made with heavy assistance from his brother Tim, and dare I say, his best ever.

The record, released this spring, begins with “Eye Aye I,” a clever title for a straightforward song. Hause lays out what he’s sick of, what he’s given some slack on, and what he’s given up on completely. In a particularly apt survey of the modern rock landscape, he snarls, “I can’t tell which one I hate more, the arrogant dumb young opening bands or the cashing-in old boars.” 

From here the album continues in a spiral of dread and disdain that might just be enough to make someone stop, think, and change. 

“Saboteurs” is one of the album’s singles, and it’s an anthem. By using pop sensibilities and familiar chords a la the Who and Tom Petty, “Saboteurs” calls to arms those with the power to dismantle a broken system — in essence, everyone.

There is often a frenzy to categorize an artist as one genre or another, sometimes to razor-sharp specificity. To do that with Dave Hause would be wholly unnecessary; he plays rock and roll. However you take that, in whatever form you want, Hause is rock and roll. 

His music has been so for at least his entire solo career, which gave us 2013’s superb “Devour” and it’s earnest follow-up, 2015’s “Bury Me In Philly.” His rock prowess is proven yet again by Kick’s 3-song run of “Weathervane,” “Warpaint,” and “OMG.” Each of these songs is distinctly singable, yet all have a searing message on politics, technology, and/or humanity itself. 

He offers us a respite on “Fireflies,” a quietly beautiful folk song of a long-ago love.

The final track, “Bearing Down,” neatly summarizes the theme of the whole album: We all have a conscious choice between resilience and resignation. Dave Hause wants to help us choose resilience. Dave Hause and the Mermaid are currently on tour in North America. Kick is out now through Rise Records.

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