Unslushed because: On the one hand, K Records is the Olympia, Washington, label that was founded by Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and like 35 other seminal bands I’ve never heard of). I liked the spare, black-and-white artwork and typography here. On the other hand, Jeremy Jay is wearing a tweed sport coat with a striped sweater underneath it, he has a shag, and there’s a song here called “Escape to Aspen.” I figured I’d either uncover an eccentric songwriting genius or, even better, string up a hipster-lookin’ piñata. Win-win.
Factors not initially considered: Things are seldom as glorious as we hope or as horrible as we fear. Regardless of musical quality, at least the ten songs breeze by in under 29 minutes.
On further review: Jay’s kind of like Bugs Bunny when he pulls a pair of eyeglasses out of nowhere and appeals to Elmer Fudd’s sense of pity: Just when you’re ready to pop a cap in his skinny-jean ass, his endearing awkwardness makes you lower your barrel. Yet you just know he’s a rascal who gets all the girls and deserves no sympathy. (After all, although he’s from L.A., he prefers to call it “Angel Town.”) Thanks to a reverb-drenched low-fi recording that doesn’t sound like much more than four tracks, Jay’s tonal imprecision and janky guitar work seem perfectly appropriate; trite (rhymes with night/light/all right) lyrics get the benefit of the doubt because it sort of sounds like he’s making them up as he goes along. And making it up as he goes along is forgiven because it’s so low-fi. And, perhaps, because he’s pretty.
In a tie for first place, the best two songs here—the album-opening “Heavenly Creatures” and the title track—sound pretty much identical to both each other and Pachelbel’s Canon. There’s some ’50s flavor to the Buddy Holly aspirational “Hold Me in Your Arms Tonite,” a certain ’60s Continental-pop charm to “Escape to Aspen,” and nice, shitty ’80s stomp-box distortion on “Beautiful Rebel.”
Not that such timeless influences make, in the end, for a timeless album. I don’t think I’ll listen to it again—reslushed!—and in ten minutes, I’ll have forgotten all but one thing about A Place Where We Could Go. But, alas, the one thing I’ll remember is this: It wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t as bad as I hoped it would be. We probably haven’t seen the last of this rascal.