New haunts

Jake Mann brings his low-watt singer-songwriter rock to town

When Jake Mann ponders his recent move from Davis to San Francisco, he puts it in terms of a song. "Left behind the right things I know / How does this one go?" Mann muses on "Beat the Drum," as though making your way in a new scene were like playing a tune whose chords you haven't quite learned. That SF has scenes at all was part of Mann's concern. "People are specific about their genres here," he notes. "I've always felt spread across a lot of sounds."

This is borne out on Mann's new LP, Daytime Ghost (Crossbill). Made with a backing three-piece band, it's low-watt singer-songwriter rock that's almost shoegazily bothered by texture. The first thought — thanks to the skuzzy guitar and dirty-weekend vocals of "Flames at My Feet" — goes to some less vain Marc Bolan: all the seamy T.Rex aesthetics without the bad intent. But a more accurate ancestor may be the Neil Young of 1975's Zuma (Reprise). Mann lists the album as a recent "obsession," and its meld of fractured melodies and grimy guitars is an obvious influence on Daytime. "Take You for a Ride" plays like unraveling country rock, its broad American horizons — "Those big skies won't betray us," Mann hopes — as ominous as Young's had become.

Mann built Daytime over the past couple of years after the breakup of his Davis group the Zim-Zims, and it shows the marks of protracted writing. Evidently, the artist hasn't quite decided his feelings on laptop beats, which pop up sporadically, though the sublime "Our 1st Assumptions Were Correct" shows he can corral them. Still, the disc sticks together, largely because those guitars have an almost tactile presence — we've always got a toehold. Mann knows this is the promise his live show has to keep. With a second guitar added and carte blanche given to vocal improvs, he claims they're "getting most of it across."


Sept. 30, 9 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923

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