Freak Owls
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Freak Owls

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Brooklyn, New York, United States
Rock Indie

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"Freak...Exactly!"

*sigh…..*?Okay, so, I was having issues with my computer’s cd player.. it kept spitting out Freak Owls debut album ‘Taxidermy’.   So, I went to the Freak Owls’ myspace page.. and wouldn’t you know it, the myspace player was having issues as well.  Then, I make a premature judgment about the band because the profile had only been viewed about 3500 times.  So, I was literally about to give up and move on..  Then it happened, track 1, entitled ‘Little Things’ started up, and I was frozen, not for a moment, not for a song, but I think I was well in to track 3 before I blinked or breathed again.
The man behind the music is Josh Ricchio and apparently he’s basically a veteran of the indie rock music scene.  I haven’t heard any of his prior projects, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they don’t compare to this.. because if they did, I’m certain I WOULD have heard of his prior projects.
‘Taxidermy’ is basically a pop album.. but it’s not just a pop album.  Allow me to make an analogy..  We’ve all heard a million pop songs and a hundred-thousand pop bands, but every great once in a while you run in to those magical ones, the ones that you can’t let go of.. when you’re out and about, you absolutely can’t wait to get back to it, like a new toy sitting at home waiting for you.. I believe the likes of Grandaddy, Postal Service, and Death Cab For Cutie are in this boat, for many!
This album will not be filed away with the hundreds upon hundreds of submissions that I have stored up over the years.  No no.. this is my new toy..  Freak Owls ‘Taxidermy’..  Amazing..
LoveSound Rating – 9/10 - lovesoundmagazine


"Freak Owls - Taxidermy"

After spending a dozen years touring with various acts, Brooklynite Josh Ricchio decided to go it alone. Locking himself in his room, Ricchio fell into a writing frenzy of catchy acoustic songs. When it came time to record, Ricchio called on a revolving cast of friends and colleagues. Consequently The Freak Owls were born. Their debut album, Taxidermy, crackles and sparks with a vibrancy that you can’t teach.

Taxidermy opens with “Little Things”, a wonderfully catchy acoustic tune about the minutiae that leads us from like into love. The song is filled with found and environmental sounds that add to the layered feel and fill up the space between silence and everyday life. “Little Things” is a brilliant first tune. “Hey, Na Na Na” keeps things going with an energetic if slightly surreal appeal; it’s got a great melody that’s catchy but atypical. “Paper People” is a visceral experience that is better experienced that described. As a reviewer I like it, although it’s struggle to explain why. It’s just one of those songs that grabs hold of you and won’t let go.

One of the absolutely highlights of the disc is “Seaquid”, an urgent tune full of subtle flourishes tied to an urgent acoustic arrangement. The song is highly enjoyable and is likely to get stuck in your head. Ricchio takes a left turn on “Belles”, a pretty tune that walks the thin line between mournful and hopeful and features a vocal duet that’s sonically pleasing. “Optimistic Automatic” is a catchy tune that will stick with you, and “Online (And In Love)” has a sonically full arrangement tinged with great harmonies. Freak Owls take a more ambient folk turn on “Place To Be” and continue on into the aether with “Can You Feel It (Patience Officer)”. These final two songs seem to be tangential to the rest of the album, and might be a tough turn for some listeners to swallow, but are solid compositions in their own rights.

Taxidermy is an example of what can happen when an established artist breaks the mold they’re used to working in. When expectations and old habits are stripped away, sometimes magic happens. Josh Ricchio finds his share of magic on Taxidermy, and his band of brothers, the Freak Owls, have a lot of fun creating a highly controlled brand of mayhem that you’ll be appreciating for some time to come.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World


"Freak Owls - Taxidermy"

The latest creation of musical nomad Josh Riccio, Freak Owls, have released their new album Taxidermy. A band named after feathered creatures and a title describing a hobby which involves stuffing them, no pun required. Josh has spent the past 12 years plying his trade with the likes of Pela and Ladycop and was able to rely on his mates in the industry when it came to getting his latest work released. Catchy acoustic numbers litter the album creating an up-beat vibe for the most part. Riccio’ ability to combine melody and vocal harmony means this collection of songs is easy on the ear as well as repetitive on the brain, as you might find yourself humming tracks such as “Hey, Na, Na, Na” without even knowing it. As so often with acoustic/folk there can be a sting in the tail and this is no exception. In this case it is the slightly more lumpy “Belles” and “Place to Be”. - Hubbub UK


"Freak Owls - Taxidermy"

Smart textured underground pop in the same general vein as Sufjan Stevens. That's just a general reference point, because bandleader Josh Ricchio's songs are actually markedly different in terms of the overall sound. Mr. Ricchio writes nice, flowing songs with refreshingly genuine melodies and ultimately friendly lyrics. While the songs on Taxidermy are pop songs...they are by no means the kind of predictable slop that you normally hear from the average generic twenty-first century popster. These songs are intelligent and well thought out. The tunes are driven by some really cool understated vocals that fit the music to a T. The more we spin this one...the better it sounds. Cool well-crafted cuts include "Little Things," "Paper People," "Seaquid," "Place To Be," and "Can You Feel It (Patience, Officer)." Top pick. - Babysue.com


"Freak Owls - Taxidermy"

So I’m sitting in the office on a sunny afternoon, the light reflecting off my desk in patterns, and the sky is a perfect azure. This album, Taxidermy, by Freak Owls, is playing through my ear buds and it inspires me to go outside and frolic in the parking lot and say “Hello! The world is beautiful!” to everyone I see. But, alas, I have responsibilities; I take a sip of my water and start typing this review.
Josh Ricchio, the brain daddy of this project, has worked with other bands such as Pela, Ladycop and The Symphony Case during the last twelve years. Ricchio wrote most of Taxidermy (besides “Place to Be” which was written by Nick Drake) in the spring of 2009. Eric Sanderson of Pela recorded the album, and it features a variety of instruments including such rock mainstays as the ukulele and mandolin.
This album is adorable. Really. There are claps and beautiful harmonies and glockenspiel. It is eclectic musical fusion but mellow at the same time. Think The Animal Collective meets Broken Social Scene meets your last visit to the beach. Not the trip when your dad wore that terrible Speedo; the other one.
This carefree attitude comes through in the single “Little Things” – “I’ll be your caterpillar / I’ll be your butterfly / I’ll be whatever you want baby.” An excellent choice for a single, and thematically similar to Backseat Goodbye’s “Technicolor Eyes,” this song is cute and the lyrics are relatable. I mean, what young adult doesn’t like sitting on the couch with a beer and a significant other?
At the same time, though, Taxidermy has an eerie air of desolation, coming through in songs such as “Seaquid” and “Belles.” The sequencing of this album (track order) is a big part of its success. After “Belles” comes “Optimistic Automatic,” an upbeat number with vocal harmonies and instrumental parts filling every space. The songs are all tied together by Ricchio’s simple, mellow, easy-on-the-ears voice.
What sets Freak Owls apart from some other emerging artists is that after a few listens, the songs got stuck in my head. The majority of the songs sound like they belong on a soundtrack for an indie film. Ricchio achieves his goal for this album being, in his words, “catchiness incarnate.”
— MT
- MusicPlayersMag.com


"Taxidermy"

Our Rating: 8/10

Freak Owls was created, in the spring of 2009, and is essentially a one man project of Brooklyn's Josh Ricchio. Taxidermy builds on nine home made demos with the help from a bunch of mates and the recording skills of Eric Sanderson from Pela, one of several Indie bands Ricchio has played with over the past 12 years.

The album is a deliberate attempt to create a chilled alternative to earnest guitar rock and has a resolutely summery feel. These are songs he accurately calls "catchiness incarnate".

Drawing on inspiration from favourite artists like Iron & Wine and Gnarls Barkley, he has created a mood of intimacy coupled with a sun-drenched sense of optimism. If there are clouds on the horizon he focuses only the silver linings.

He even manages to squeeze a hopeful message from Nick Drake's A Place To Be despite the fact that this features tortured lyrics like "I feel weaker than the palest sun".

The clap-along simplicity of the other songs give them a childlike quality which can't help but sounding a little twee at times. Take for example these lines from the opening track Little Things:
"I'll be your caterpillar, I'll be your butterfly . I'll be whatever you want me to be".

Ricchio just about gets away with this by virtue of the fact his resolution to accentuate the positive never seem born of naivety. Instead, he savours those sweet moments when you are quietly passing time with no particular place to go and have no desire to fret about deadlines.

On Paper People he sings of being happy to jot down words in the hope that one day they will inspire. On Optimistic Automatic he imagines himself on the moon with no air to breathe but even that does not bring him down. He even sounds cheerful when posing anxious questions like "What will it take to love me the way you did before?"(Belles)

Arthur Lee's The Good Humor Man Sees Everything Like This is a song he should consider covering if he ever gets around to a sequel.

All in all Taxidermy is a charming and uplifting way to spend half an hour and may even encourage you to put pessimism on hold and believe that even in the most desolate and broken cities there are shafts of light.
- Whisperin And Hollerin


"Freak Owls - Taxidermy"

Freak Owls is the brainchild of New Yorker Josh Ricchio. Ricchio had spent many years as a member of a variety of bands and finally decided he wanted to form his own. He is the latest artist to try expressing himself musically under the umbrella of alt-country.Freak Owls is the brainchild of New Yorker Josh Ricchio. Ricchio had spent many years as a member of a variety of bands and finally decided he wanted to form his own. He is the latest artist to try expressing himself musically under the umbrella of alt-country. This is their debut album and most of the acoustic songs on it are catchy and well arranged. It is easy to like these songs that are energetic, vibrant, layered, and filled with great harmonies. It is easy on the ear and works its way into your brain. You'll definitely find yourself humming the songs later. It is certainly an album you can put on while having some beer and burgers on your deck this summer with your friends. That kind of vibe. Much of it will remind you of Gnarls Barkley, The Beach Boys and Death Cab for Cutie. By: Carey - OrcaSound


"Taxidermy"

Josh Ricchio created the ideas for 'Taxidermy' from a frenzy-filled mind, wracked with anxiety. Ricchio toured and played for 12 years with Pela, Ladycop and the Symphony Case before deciding he would nurture his creative spirit and construct a genre entitled: “catchiness incarnate.”??The band which Ricchio created is called Freak Owls and it features Kolby Wade, Cody Geil and Kerry Beach. This debut CD is an amalgam of electronic programming, heavenly vocals, keen observations and erstwhile strumming. ??‘Little Things’ starts off the track list with crackling guitar, minor melodies and lots of rhythm. ??Then, ‘Hey, Na Na Na’ enlists more ensemble efforts courtesy of Geil and Beach. “Driving around in a belly of a whale/Have a party to go to” is sung in a deliriously captivating manner as vibrant parallel melodies explode around it. It’s a song to which you can easily dance or daydream. ??‘Paper Purple’ is smooth and oozes escapist amblings. “Open hearts like starry nights/Drive like sunsets over the mountains” are just two examples.??‘Seaquid’ is more transcendental. The intro moves expediently into a quasi-electronic cadence and the sensitive message looms nearby. “Don’t leave me now/I’ve got love locked away.”??‘Belles’ also carries an aura of austere vulnerability. “I can see tears of every color/Why are they always shades of grey?” is posed and finally, “What would it take to make you love me like you did before?”??‘Optimistic Automatic’ is programmed, yes, but not predictable. ‘Online (and in love)’ may say more about the casualties of cyberspace than any popular song out there.??“The sign says you’re never open/It’s like you don’t exist/There’s no more secrets/There’s no more trinkets/Who in the world could this be?”??The sheer vocals cascade dreamily around the melodies.??‘Can You Feel it’ (patience, officer) ends this musical love affair.??“Here we come ready or not/too terrified to drive” Ricchio sings. ??'Taxidermy' is a lovely collage of imagery and moments of truth. Freak Owls create a really stunning aural exploration. - PennyBlackMusic


"Taxidermy"

Freak Owls is the brain child of Josh Ricchio. After spending many years in different bands Ricchio has taken the step and produced an album of his own featuring vocal and instrumental support from Kolby Wade, Cody Geil, and Kerry Beach.
This New York band has put their own spin into the traditional acoustic melodies of years past with obvious influences from the greats such as ‘Nick Drake’ (covering one of his songs, ‘Place to Be’) Freak Owls have mixed modern styled music with traditional styles.
The soft sounds of the tracks carry you away from the hustle and bustle of every day life with songs that would not sound out of place alongside The Shins on the “Garden State” soundtrack. Freak Owls are bringing the perfect summer evening wrapped up in this 9 track album.
This album is a balanced blend of Nick Drake and Paolo Nutini with a just a little splash of the chilled out I Monster, it is the perfect cocktail to lighten any day and drift just above the mundane to the musical landscape Josh Ricchio and his friends have so exquisitely painted for us. 8/10
- Tasty Fanzine


"Taxidermy"

Somewhat folksy, slightly funky, and definitely danceable would be the best way to describe the Freak Owls debut album, Taxidermy.

Singer/songwriter Josh Ricchio’s warm and uncomplicated vocals nestle very nicely in a bed of acoustic instruments and danceable beats throughout the entire album, accented by vocal and instrumental help from musical guests Kolby Wade, Cody Geil, and Kerry Beach. The general effect is a plush wash of sound over great grooves, with each song presenting a different morsel of musical tastiness, some highlights being the sparkling mandolin, which really jumps out on the tracks “Hey Na Na Na” and “Online (And In Love),” and the acoustic guitar ostinato on “Paper People,” which is positively hypnotic.
“Belles” includes some truly haunting violin work, and “Optimistic Automatic” uses handclaps to great effect. The opening track, “Little Things.” wouldn’t be out of place in a Zach Braff or Zooey Deschanel indie movie. The only downside to the textured and defused quality of the instrumental arrangements is that Ricchio’s lyrics become secondary to the sea of sounds that surrounds them, the only true exception being the track “Place To Be,” which is a stunning vocal duet with a soaring female voice done completely in octaves. The overall vibe of the album is perfect as the last dance parties of summer give way to the mellowness of autumn. (Sing Engine Records) -Sarah Wilfong

- Performer Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Freak Owls was created from the amalgamation of ideas, restlessness, and frustrations of Josh Ricchio. After spending the past 12 years playing and touring in a wide variety of collaborative rock bands (most recently, "Pela", who are now "We Are Augustines"), the desire to lock himself in a room and write what he calls, "catchiness incarnate" became too great.
The first two releases ("Taxidermy" and the recent EP, "Orchestrates") pull influences from The Beach Boys, MGMT, Death Cab For Cutie and Yeasayer while textured, over-layering vocal choruses, sparkling acoustics, and Gnarls Barkley-like danceable beats urge the listener to curl up to the songs and sing along at the same time. "…a very personal and uplifting set of smiles and moist eyes, Freak Owls wants to warm the heart and chill the spine."
Both albums were recorded by Ricchio and Eric Sanderson (We Are Augustines), and feature Kolby Wade, Cody Geil, Robert Allen and Kerry Beach on a variety of sounds, voices and instruments. Both were released on Ricchio's own label, Sing Engine Records.
In the 2 years since the release of the debut, and after whittling down the lineup from a 5 to 3-piece, Freak Owls have brought their unique blend of indie-rock on the road to a majority of the US, as well as having played festivals in England, Canada, and as far away as Latvia. Selling out their first few runs of cd's while placing multiple songs in film and on TV, including a number of songwriting nominations such as The John Lennon, SongCircle, and 100% Music Songwriting Competitions, Freak Owls are ecstatic to announce the release of their new album, "Orca City", which sees the trio expanding their sound to greater intensities and smaller intricacies.
Josh Ricchio and Kolby Wade spent about 6 months in early 2012 sending music back and forth to each other to complete on their own time. A chorus here, a beat there; one song taking a day to finish, another taking up to a month. Time wasn't an issue, they just wanted to make something that they, themselves, would listen to. "Orca City" starts off with a bit more of a "rock" feel than most may be used to from Freak Owls, but then morphs into the multi-layered, elephantine sound mountain they've hinted at in the past. The songs evolve from minimalistic guitars and bells to a bombastic amalgam of drum and bass, strings, and vocal polyphony. By far the most adventurous release from the band, the roots are still underfoot and they feel comfortable in these new shoes. It's the sound they've been working toward since the first release, and it's a sound that will continue to evolve as they create honest music for themselves and their listeners.
"Orca City" will be released January 15, 2013 on Sing Engine Records.