Chancellorpink is the studio moniker of Ray McLaughlin, a local singer-songwriter, father and attorney who has released an album a year for the past three years. If the thought of lawyers playing music makes you think of Eagles cover bands -- and scramble toward the door -- you're bound to be surprised by this year's entry, Valentine Parade, which will be released officially on Feb. 14 (of course).
In fact, Chancellorpink's sound is outsider rock informed by new wave and Bowie-style pop weirdness. Between the deep, rich vocals and somewhat unconventional orchestration (fuzzed-out guitar is often accompanied by vibraphone), Chancellorpink often recalls the Magnetic Fields. And at his weird, catchy best, McLaughlin approaches Stephin Merritt proportions in his songwriting: "Red Wedding Dress," for example, is a one-man chamber-pop piece with irresistible depth. Not every song is such a keeper, but most offer at least an interesting listen.
It's easy to imagine Chancellorpink's songs sounding fuller with a broader orchestration and more professional studio treatment (currently, McLaughlin takes on all the duties, from singing and playing to engineering). But at the same time, it's easy to imagine that with that kind of treatment, the songs would lose the outsider charm they have with McLaughlin as sole proprietor.
Chancellorpink's music holds down a very in-between spot on the pop-music landscape, so it's a safe prediction that he isn't headed to massive mainstream success. But that landscape would be a lot less exciting if there weren't Chancellorpinks on the outskirts, doing just this sort of thing.