Big Fresh, one of Lexington, Kentucky’s most venerable pop music institutions, is proud to announce the upcoming release of “Fall Preview,” one of two EPs that the ten-member band has scheduled for 2017 on its own Desperate Spirits label. “Fall Preview” represents the first Big Fresh release in six years, following up the band’s third full-length, 2011’s Moneychasers, and will be available on collectible limited vinyl, and digitally, June 2nd.
Drawing from musical touchstones near and far, “Fall Preview” synthesizes the breezy harmonies of The Free Design, the lush arrangements of David Axelrod, and the gleeful deconstructionism of XTC.
“Target audiences include all citizens of China, manic depressives, scholars of jazz chord voicings, and recovering Catholics,” says band leader John Ferguson. “It’s sanguine music for turbulent times.”
In addition to his work as part of Big Fresh, Ferguson also performs with, and produces, a number of other Lexington-based oddballs, and he is probably best-known as a member of the much-beloved Elephant 6 flagship band, The Apples In Stereo, which he joined in 2006. In fact, Apples front man Robert Schneider appears on “Fall Preview” as the lead vocalist of the EP’s first single “Paralyzed,” and represents just one of the guest voices on this collection of songs where the band’s lead singer doesn’t do much lead singing.
“We got tired of hearing ourselves singing lead on every track,” explains Ferguson, “So we invited a few of our talented friends to join us.”
Indeed, the opening cut “Tongku,” features vocals in Mandarin by Bianbian, lead singer of the Beijing pop band, Candy Monster. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Beans” features the stylings of Hair Police founder, Trevor Tremaine, “Yes Yes Yes” is voiced by former Big Fresh singer, Kate Pope, and closing track “Like Swayze” (yes, that Swayze) features Lexington-based Hip-Hop and Soul singer, Michelle Hollis. As mentioned, the familiar voice of Schneider lifts up the EP’s first single and music video, “Paralyzed.”
About that tune, Ferguson says, “It’s a cynical look at my journey growing up within the culture of fundamentalist Christianity, fast food, and excessive television consumption in rural Kentucky. Although I was able to shed my primitive and superstitious programming by the time I was a teen, I notice that I’ve come to a place where I’m still highly judgmental of myself for ‘checking out’ in front of screens.”
Ferguson says that the song’s lyric “I hope I see the day, when I can believe in anything at all” perfectly sums up the feeling of the tune. That said, no one should be swayed (Swayze!) into thinking that “Paralyzed” is – especially with Schneider’s vocal leading the way – anything less than a stellar example of ooey gooey pure pop goodness. As succinctly stated by Ferguson, “the sweetly fatalistic optimism of Big Fresh resonates.”
This summer, Big Fresh will hit the road (all ten band members!) for dates in the Northeast and Midwest, and the second EP in this series, “Sweeps,” will follow closely behind in the fall. “Sweeps” will also feature guest vocalists, this time including Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, Per Sunding of Eggstone, and Karen Hover of Sound of Ceres. For now, Ferguson and the rest of Big Fresh urges you to consider this: In a world with few things left to truly enjoy, “Fall Preview” might be your last chance at true happiness.
Hyperbole? You’ll have to listen to find out for sure.
The “Fall Preview” EP by Big Fresh arrives on collectible limited vinyl, and digitally, on June 2nd, preceded by single and music video for “Paralyzed” (feat. Robert Schneider.)