Freak Owls (the alias of Brooklyn native, Josh Ricchio) was created from an amalgamation of ideas, restlessness, and frustrations after spending the previous 12 years playing and touring in a wide variety of collaborative indie rock bands. The desire to lock himself in a room and write what he calls, “catchiness incarnate” became too great.
The first two releases (“Taxidermy” and “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 were released on Ricchio’s own label, Sing Engine Records.
In the three years since the release of the debut, and after whittling down the lineup from a 5-piece to a continuously rotating cast of characters, Ricchio’s Freak Owls are continuously expanding their unique blend of indie-folk-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 TV, including a number of songwriting nominations such as The John Lennon, SongCircle, and 100% Music Songwriting Competitions.
The latest release, “Orca City” (co-written with long-time collaborator, Kolby Wade), takes on the soundtrack to an imagined city, much like the group’s hometown of New York, built on the back of a Melvillian-like beast. This almost-concept album sees Ricchio elaborate his sound to even greater intensities and smaller intricacies.
Ricchio and longtime collaborator, Kolby Wade, spent about 6 months in early 2012 sending music back and forth to each other, via DropBox, to complete on their down time. The finished product, “Orca City”, starts off with more of an “indie-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 their first two releases, and it’s a sound that will continue to evolve as they create honest music for themselves and their listeners.
Now embarking on a “Single-A-Month” venture, Freak Owls promise to release a song on the 1st of every month on their BandCamp page.