Jeremy Jay has been called the American Jens Lekman. And like the Swedish indie-rocker, Jay makes gorgeous dream pop. His new CD, A Place Where We Could Go, is so sparse, it could have been recorded in a cave. But Jay uncovers hidden patches of beauty in the untamed forest of mass-produced music. It's made all the more timeless by a style that owes as much to the 1950s as it does the far-off future. Jay pens songs about dreamy fantasies and fairy-tale romances — which is fitting, since Place is sorta the CD equivalent of the storybook classic The Secret Garden. You'd expect Jay to be drained by all the sappiness, but he's a wild man onstage, hopping around and winning over audiences with boyish charm. The California dreamer is on tour with Film School, which plays a darker shade of pop on its latest album, Hideout. Where Jay keeps things wistful and gentle, the San Francisco quintet dips into heady psychedelia and blurred distortion. — Danielle Sills
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