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Telekinesis, The Love Language and Conversations with Jake Mann

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Three indie rock favorites from across the country will soon create a unique sonic experience in Davis.

Seattle’s Telekinesis delivers wistful vocal layers and pretty rock elements, Raleigh’s The Love Language deconstructs yesterday’s sounds into modern melodies, and Jake Mann + the Upper Hand, from San Francisco via Davis, softly sings lo-fi storylines of wanderlust, love and navigating lakes of different sizes.

All that and more can be heard as these musicians breath life into the Odd Fellows Hall this Tuesday.

The Sacramento Press recently spoke with singer Jake Mann about playing again in his old stomping grounds and releasing the new record, “Parallel South,” last month on Davis-based record label Crossbill.

What’s the story behind your band name, Jake Mann + the Upper Hand?

The last record was just Jake Mann, and then we started playing — Aaron (Bellamy) joined the band, and our drummer Dan Baber started, and I’d be on stage and we’d be introducing everyone. We were starting to feel like a band rather than a solo project, and I like that feeling.

As far as the title, I was talking to my roommate saying we need a band name and he said, “What, like Jake Mann and the Upper Hand?” And I said, “Yes! Perfect.” It makes a nice foil for me, like I’m Jake and the band has the upper hand! (Laughs)

You formed in Davis back when you were in college. What is it like to come back and play in Davis where the band first formed?

In Davis I think you get a lot of recognition. There’s a really supportive community. If you do something and come up with it, people will support you. It’s a good and supportive incubator. It gets things rolling.

Going to the city, the niche is packed, and so there’s a bunch of people doing indie rock music, trying to get gigs. It’s more competitive. I wrote a song about it on the last record called “Beat the Drum,” which was sort of about moving from Davis and being the big fish in the little pond, to becoming the little fish in the big pond.

I think we have some of our best shows here. Davis still remembers who we are, which is nice. That’s always tough in a college town where the turnover is so great. It’s nice to come up here in the spring or summer when it’s cloudy and cold in San Francisco and just go for a swim and a bike ride up here. Things move so slowly in Davis that when you come out from the city pace, you feel kind of superhuman. You can show up and just get a lot done.

How did your involvement with Crossbill start?

Just hanging out a lot with Michael (Leahy, the label’s founder) and getting brunch and drinking lots of coffee and talking about how to get rolling in the music scene. I was working on a record. Garrett Pierce was working on a record. Mike was DJing a lot. So we had a “core “ here. Eventually Sea of Bees came across Mike’s radar. It’s getting better every release.

How did you go about recording the album?

We recorded it in our garage rehearsal space, so it wasn’t recorded in a professional studio place, so it sounds good, but it sounds unique. I like the level that it balances between a lo-fi home recording and a hi-fi studio recording. We had lots of time to do overdubs on it beyond our basic takes, so we had a lot to explore. Aaron and I spent a lot of time last summer doing guitar overdubs. And there’s some experimental radio noise and feedback and those types of textures in there, so I think it would be a good headphones album.

Where can we find it in Sacramento?

The record should be available at The Beat and Phono Select.

What meaning do the songs have to you?

There are pretty much some common themes running through them, themes of travel and movement and sunshine. We’re trying to get sunnier. My last album was a little darker.

Where does the title “Parallel South” come from?

My girlfriend was traveling a lot during the writing of this record. She made a couple different trips to the southern hemisphere. I think about places a lot, so that’s why there are a lot of allusions to travel.

The cover art definitely reflects that. Who did it?

I did. I took the picture that’s on the front, which was taken with a Holga, and it’s of Burtle Hill behind our house in San Francisco. I was going to just use that picture, but then everyone started using the Hipstamatic prints on the iPhone, which I love, but I didn’t want the record to look like a Hipstamatic print. So I incorporated that photo into a collage. I used a lot of tape, an old calendar, some graph paper and an old National Geographic.

In your own words, how would you describe your music?

Indie rock. There are some weird edges to it, but it’s song-writery. There’s melody, so it’s listenable. There are also some touches of Americana in some places, but our influences are pretty diverse. It’s just really a big stew that’s cooking over time. Pavement made a huge influence, Guided by Voices, Cake — even though I don’t think our music sounds like Cake. Cake is from here, so I saw them a lot growing up.

What are your future touring plans?

We want to tour as much as we can, but we all have jobs, so we can’t cut and just leave. But we try to squeeze in as much as we can in three, two, four-day windows. That pretty much limits us to the West Coast. We’re talking about going to South by Southwest if a good opportunity comes up.

Jake Mann + the Upper Hand, Telekinesis and The Love Language will perform at Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. in Davis, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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