Kara Keith: "Kick This City"


By Eric Sams | 25 February 2008

Here’s why I’m digging “Kick This City” by ex-Falconhawk Kara Keith: when she kicks into the chorus—“We’re gonna kick this city / kick this bully”—and her backers Your Dignity (including Sarah Nordean, bassist for Glow sweetheart act Chad VanGaalen) join the chant, atop awkward piano and synthesizer lines, well it just makes me want to execute a mid-air heel click and let out a Howard Dean “Hyeeaaaawwww!?!”

But I’m not sure exactly why. I mean there seems to be something rousingly subversive about “kicking this city,” but I have no idea how one would go about it. I don’t even know what city we’re talking about here. Skokie? Pittsburgh? Belgrade? (Too soon?) I guess the mantra works better on the abstract preverbal level, which is a 50 Cent way to say that it’s fun to sing along to. And that I can explain.

If Neko Case made a solo album wearing her New Pornographers hat this is what it might sound like. The piano steps lively, but Keith’s voice manages to stay dusky and measured even at jumpier twee-pop tempos where we’ve been taught to brace for a faux cutesy high-register coo. Your Dignity approach melody from creative angles as well; the piano progresses through simple scales, opening up space for the other instruments to interact. A little Strokes guitar line here, a little new wave synth slide there. It seems spontaneous, but I’m sure that it is actually the result of careful orchestration.

Throw this on. See if you have the same reaction. I’m honestly curious, because its provenance eludes me. If you do feel the same urge, though, be careful where you let your “Hyeeeeaaaaawww!?!” slip. We’ve all seen the damage that can do.

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