You owe it to yourself to check out some of the stuff I unearth. This is one of the … stuffs.
(Sing Engine, 2010)
I’ve been friends with Josh Ricchio for a long time, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s not important. What’s important is how good his debut album as Freak Owls, Taxidermy, is. You don’t even have to take my word for it. You can go to the website and listen to the album there. Or just buy it. In fact, you should probably buy it. You’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run. I have a feeling Taxidermy, name aside, is actually slowing my aging process. (It’s either that or my fantastic metabolism, but I wouldn’t rule the former out as I’ve certainly listened to it enough.)
So there’s your reason right there to go and get yourself a copy of Freak Owls’ record. I wrote the promo copy for the Listen page, so I’m not going to rehash its many attributes here. You want the pitch? There it is. (Josh, you need to fix the formatting of the apostrophes though.) It also made my year-end Crate-Digging Top 10 list, so clicky click to see where yonder record placed. No, I’m going to do a much bigger favor – I’m going to get this played to the masses. Not just the Critical Masses, oh no, already done. I mean the television-watching population at large, the majority of whom need a good shake from their slumber. And Freak Owls is just the band to do it – if we could just … shove them … into your favorite … commercials … there you go. I’ve done it. I’ve devised a plan how everyone can hear the record: I’m going to use the power of my visibility as an Internet Music Critic to strongarm some major companies into spreading their marketing budgets to incorporate Josh’s music. Soon, the sweet, sweet ad revenue will be rolling in. Trust me.
I know you’re trying to move those new Fits off the floor, and you’re targeting the young, urban hipster who’s totally into the environment and junk. I get it. How do you sell that? For a dude on the go like me, I want my advertisements quick, catchy, and memorable – in fact, I want so memorable that I say, “Who’s that awesome band playing on this commercial?” Not to worry – let me lob one in your direction: “Optimistic, Automatic.” You’re welcome. It’s breezy, perfect for windows down on a spring drive. The title, too, says it all – optimism is key, and unless you’re pushing the standard transmissions, you’ve got “automatic” down. See? The perfect song makes for the perfect automobile purchase. Why do you think I’m driving around in a Nissan Quest minivan? Because Modest Mouse sold it to me in 2007. (And I wear Levi’s because of Mogwai, but that’s more a reflection on my fickleness than your cars.)
Dear Barnes & Noble:
You wanna outdo Kindle and iPad with your Nook? Heck yeah you do. They can have their twee garbage, but you need something more immediate, yet still dreamy and imaginative. “Seaquid,” then, stupid. Who cares what it means – that’s not the point. The point is that the piano and guitar and wordless chorus vocal stick in your brain like melted Jolly Ranchers that drip down your brain stem as they liquify. How do you not want that? I mean, you know how Kindle has those stop-motion commercials of people doing amazing things as they get lost in their digital books? Try “Seaquid” – it’ll make you see better things. (See also: “Little Things,” and its book-friendly lines “Turn off the television / No talk shows on tonight.”)
Dear Grey Goose:
Oh, right, you can’t sell vodka without cool, confident, sophisticated. Beautiful people, dressed well – that’s it, isn’t it? The vagaries of the young, rich, and beautiful? As much as I’d rather jam this song down your judgmental throats than suggest it for a television commercial, here I am and here it is, you awful people. “Can You Feel It (Patience Officer)” is the move to the balcony, where the beautiful blond retreats from the soire and the young man follows, martini in hand. (Or is it a vodka tonic? You decide, you monsters.) He offers the woman the drink. She smiles and accepts, and … scene. See how that works? You’ve got tailor-made lines (“Can you feel it? It’s cooling down.”) and a repeat of the “Can you feel it” line ends the song. So hurry it up – you don’t want me to start taking calls from Bombay Sapphire, do you?
Dear Wells Fargo:
This is an easy one – how, as a bank, do you engender goodwill and security with the American public in the midst of financial upheaval? With a well-placed Nick Drake cover, that’s how. Luckily Freak Owls has “Place to Be,” and you don’t even have to worry about the Drake estate, you can let the band deal with it. It’s a beautiful and faithful meditation on the original, and you need “beautiful” and “faithful” right now, don’t you? Josh makes this his own. You are one lucky bank if you get it.
Dear Christian Dior:
How much money did you pay Charlize Theron for your J’Adore campagin? I guarantee it was too much. Why not just use Freak Owls? Josh is a handsome dude. And “Online (And In Love)” is a handsome song, a smoky bit of trip-hop magic that sneaks around corners and hides in the shadows, just perfect for the jaded star or starlet to mope around to. And that’s just what you want isn’t it, to cultivate that desire to be just as disillusioned as the rich and famous? Where’s your heart, you awful grinch? You take “Online (And In Love),” filled with more emotion and understanding than you or your soulless marketing department will ever know, and all will be forgiven. You might even unearth a side of yourself that you can stand to be around.
There’s a lesson here. You wanna play with the cool kids? You come to me. I’ll set you straight.
RIYL: Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens, Pinback