Chaos Theory (2005, Self-released)
Up until my senior year in high school I had all kinds of adventurous plans to pursue a degree in astronomy, become a astronaut and then work my way into the NASA Hall Of Fame. I was quite the budding scientist. Non-fiction books on the subject were devoured, constellations were memorized, theories posited and so forth. Though I never had the pleasure of floating in zero gravity I continued to stay informed and interested in astronomy. Why? Well, it’s fascinating, ever-changing and sometimes impossible to grasp. Where does it all end? How does it all fit together? What’s with all this dark matter shit we can’t even see? You see, it’s not without it’s challenges. So you have a band called Escape Velocity, an album called Chaos Theory and a picture of the Horsehead Nebula on the cover artwork. I bet you’re gearing yourselves up for a vast, in-depth exploration of the physical and spiritual world by way of epic post-rock jams rife with odd time signatures, mathic tendencies and crescendos of screeching guitar and orchestral embellishments. Well, back to the closet with those space suits, cadets, and prepare to scribble ‘I Love Escape Velocity’ into your Keds instead.
I’m instantly reminded of blue album Weezer on the opening track – geeky vocals, lyrics of troubled love and the squealing guitar sounds of everybody’s favorite ode to Buddy Holly. ‘Don’t push me away, cuz you know that I love you girl, and I need you in my life…forever‘ Very basic, very charming. This theme appears once again a little later on the cutesy ‘Lisa’ and ‘The Only One’. The gentle, lounge-pop of ‘Fall In Love Again’ follows and this is where the band’s other influences begin to surface – most predominantly in the shape of the Elephant 6 collective – more specifically Of Montreal. I ain’t gonna lie – Chagnon’s vibrato and styling has an uncanny resemblance to Kevin Barnes from said band.
If I were to choose one word to describe Chaos Theory it would be ‘playful’. ‘Gwynneth’ resembles any number of happy-go-lucky Minders tunes. The frolicking shuffle of Tired Of Life (Relates Us), reminiscent of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, should get your feet tapping and your head bobbing. Nestled snugly in the middle of the album is the zippy cover of ‘Sleeping In A Beetle Bug’ (you guessed it, the Of Montreal fanclub favorite) and it stays fairly true to the original. It’s a wise choice because it fits nicely into the Cherry Peel flavor of Chaos Theory. ‘1952’ brings out the hopeless romantic in Michael Chagnon – he ponders ‘if the stars can fall from above, why can’t we fall in love?‘. You can almost feel him tip-toeing on a fence, staring dreary-eyed up at the moon while random transients ooh-la-la in the background.
All fun, no pretention is what you’ll find here. Fans of the less-experimental, 100% pop side E6 and Weezer will slap this between two pieces of whole wheat bread and call it a meal fit for a pop geek. Those of you out there who like the fun sucked out of your music – well, this isn’t going to launch you into outer space. You’re still missing out.