Paris 1919 (Big Stir Digital Single No. 100)
In the spirit of Halloween, we are frightfully delighted to bring you the seasonally spooky fun of Big Stir Digital Single No. 100, the debut release from Highland Park, CA's OCTOBER SURPRISE, out Friday, October 16 and up for pre-order at www.bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles right now! It's a boisterous art-pop reimagining of JOHN CALE's orchestral classic “Paris 1919” with its chirpily eerie chorus “You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la”, backed with the band's original tune “(Just Can't See) The Attraction” to provide a glimpse of what to expect on October Surprise's debut album, due next spring. And aptly enough, there are some surprise guests from the Big Stir universe helping the duo out... read on!
OCTOBER SURPRISE is an interstate partnership between siblings KENNETH “KIX” CRÈCHE (based in California) and EMILY CRÈCHE in Evanston, IL. Having performed as an acoustic Americana duo in the Chicago area under the name KIX & EMMYLOU, the partnership nearly folded when Ken moved to the LA area to work in film scoring. As the pandemic shut down film production earlier this year, the pair renewed their collaboration remotely and shifted their focus to recordings, angling for the sound of their influences from the '70s art-rock of Cale, Bowie and Roxy Music to the sparkling '80s college rock of the likes of Prefab Sprout, Echo & The Bunnymen and Aztec Camera. “It was a blessing in disguise”, says primary songwriter Emily. “Kix was set to go with the film-geared recording and I'd written a lot of material that fit that idiom, so we committed to making a whole pitcher of lemonade out of 2020's lemons.”
That's where fate intervenes. While working on this fresh material in his Highland Park apartment, Kix found himself interrupted by overly-loud guitar practice from a neighbor's apartment and left a stern note on the offender's door. The culprit turned out to be BSR's own Rex Broome, and after the pair hashed out their differences, they bonded over similar musical tastes (Cale in particular) and Broome found himself impressed by the work in progress. He suggested adding a live organic element to tunes, and it's thus that the October Surprise version of “Paris 1919” came to feature guest contributions from drummer JOHN BORACK (Popdudes, The Test Pressings), singers KARLA KANE and KHOI HUYNH (Agony Aunts, The Corner Laughers) and Emily's homestate neighbor DOLPH CHANEY on the e-bow. An ace mix from NICK FRATER on the Cale cover, and an equally terrific mix from MICHAEL SIMMONS on the flip side, cement the Big Stir connection here.
Of the duo's own “(Just Can't See) The Attraction”, Emily says, “It's a portrait of that thing that happens when two of your best friends hook up, and as much as you love them individually, you can't help but think it's a terrible match and dread the outcome... we've all been there. But it's also a sort of self-effacing knock at people who try to manage the lives of their friends, too... the narrator is out of line and doesn't seem to know it.” While Emily sings lead on the A-side, Kix steps out front here, with a vocal reminiscent of the late Grant McLennan of The Go-Betweens (“We both still miss him so much,” says Emily) and the track itself evokes that band in its string-laden heyday. And there's a tinge of American Music Club, from whose “Sick Of Food” Crèche openly admits to borrowing the signature chord voicing (“it just sounded so open and lovely on piano and we built around that.”)
The debut album from OCTOBER SURPRISE is completed but as yet untitled – “Kix wants to call it Frampton Comes Alive but I'm trying to talk him down from that”, says Emily – and slated for an April release on Big Stir Records. Advance copies are already drawing praise from the likes of Don Valentine (I DON'T HEAR A SINGLE) who says: “October Surprise are a revelation. Having been fortunate enough to hear the upcoming album, I can tell you that this is the future of Art Rock. This expands Big Stir's genre hopping even further. You are in for an absolute treat.” So while we wait for Spring and the hopefully better times of 2020, it's time to get Autumnal with “Paris 1919” and “(Just Can't See) The Attraction”... trick or treat, friends!