Catching Up With: Jake Mann + The Upper Hand — “Parallel South” (Crossbill)

Features — By on February 19, 2011 5:37 pm

San-Francisco based Jake Mann + The Upper Hand‘s Parallel South, released January 18th, is the band’s latest since 2007’s Daytime Ghost. The Sacramento News described Daytime Ghost as “a cornucopia of sonic film footage”. Here the footage includes Bay Area bluffs shrouded in mist, abandoned, haunting skeletons of WWII bunkers and factories, hawks sailing on thermals above endless miles of blacktop. Jake Mann + The Upper Hand fill a void found in today’s music with much-needed indie rock along the lines of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.

“Signal”, the opening track and my personal favorite, is an open-road anthem that speaks of the bittersweet freedom found in sweeping the slate clean. Two alternate views of this song are included in the album’s collection of bonus tracks, one of which is a haunting instrumental remix that swells and undulates like sun on water. There’s some great songwriting on this album, cultivated by Mann’s patient and introspective creative process. I caught up with Jake for a chat and he filled me in on his writing.

So I read that your go-to instrument is the bass. Do you write songs on guitar? And if so, how does the bass play into that?

I write on the guitar. If I’m lucky a bassline will be in my head as I’m writing and I’ll have the chords support that. Or the bassline will come along later and just fit in. I haven’t written a song on bass yet. I’m working on a new song where the bass is the first thing in my head. So maybe something different will turn out his time. I’m wanting the demos for the next record to be like a metronome, a bassline, and a vocal.

That’s interesting. Is that a projection into the future or are you working on the demo right now?

I haven’t recorded anything yet. A song needs to stay in my head for at least six months, so it’s in there rattling around. So when I get a batch or two or three ready I can sit down with them. It’s better for them to stew for a bit before they get recorded.

I’ve never thought of songs having a ripe moment when they’re ready to be brought out into the light.

Yeah. They stay a little bit amorphous in your head for a while. I’ve sort of lost songs before by bringing them out too fast. The ideas aren’t fully formed yet and your instant critic says they sound dumb. It’s liking holding your cards close for a while until eventually they can come out.

Jake Mann + The Upper Hand “Days Are Long” from TERROREYES.TV on Vimeo.

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Upcoming shows:
February 22nd
Sophia’s Thai Kitchen Presents:
Odd Fellows Hall
415 2nd St in Davis, CA
8pm, all ages, $10/12
w/Telekinesis and The Love Language

February 25th
The Bay Bridged Presents a Noise Pop Happy Hour Show
Benders Bar
806 South Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA
5pm, 21+, FREE
w/Shannon and the Clams and Wet Illustrated

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