Listen: J. Kick Pens an Elegant Elegy for Our Twenties In the Mission on Rent Control

Lamenting the changing face of San Francisco on account of the recent influx of wealth is, well, hardly an original topic in the city these days. One silver lining? Anger, sadness, and nostalgia usually make for compelling music.

But singer-guitarist Jason Kick didn't want to write a viral song about Google buses, nor rail against tech or any of the other cliche scapegoats we've all gotten so used to. As a member of Maus Haus, then the one-off project Snowboarder, as well as in his other life as a sound engineer, he's been a mainstay of S.F.'s indie scene for over a decade — and he still considers himself a part of it, though he recently moved to West Oakland. 

“I'm still very much here. I think that both of these cities have a ton of collective talent and creativity, and I wish people would stop acting like they're culturally worlds apart — 'San Francisco bands' have had members living in Oakland since the late '90s,” says Kick.

[jump] One thing the move did inspire: A look back at his twenties, which were spent in a very different Mission District than the one today's 21-year-olds are encountering. Rent Control, the solo album Kick released last week to reflect on those changes, is far more personal than hit-you-over-the-head political. The music is accordingly intimate-feeling, deceptively simpler than Kick's previous projects, with at times Lou Reed-esque vocals up front in the mix over psych-y guitar, keys, bass, and drums.

“This is an album about your sense of 'self' and 'home' being seriously questioned and sabotaged. It's also a love letter to all of my Mission District friends, and there are songs specifically directed to them, like sharing a mixtape with them that I think they'd like. It's also a tribute to your neighborhood that will never be the same,” explains Kick. 

Specific locations around the neighborhood aren't hard to tease out: In “Ice Cream,” Kick conjures an almost oppressively beautiful day at Dolores Park, intoning “When you don't think twice, it's a playground filled with lots of nice things…look at all those people waiting for their ice cream.”

“You come home from a long trip elsewhere, and realize that home doesn't look the same as it did. You've been living in the same place and doing the same things for 10 years, wrapped up in the work you're doing and the same small group of people, and in that time, your little world has changed. You can afford to live as long as you never leave,” he says. “But maybe it really is time to move on.”

Listen to the whole thing below, and check out Kick this Sunday, Nov. 23 at a free show at Amnesia or Wednesday, Nov. 26 at the Night Light in Oakland (that one's a whopping $6). After that, says Kick, “the live shows as Rent Control will cease, but this is the first in a series of concept album/bands I'm releasing over the next two years.” We'll stay tuned.

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