10 albums that changed Josh Ottum’s life

By Peter Lindblad

Josh Ottum. Daffodil Publicity photo.
Josh Ottum. Daffodil Publicity photo.


Being an eccentric isn’t such a bad thing, especially when you’re a singer/songwriter as talented as Josh Ottum.

In the grand tradition of Robyn Hitchcock or even Beck, Ottum’s oddball tendencies only serve to make his tuneful, deeply layered songs all the more charming.

His solo debut LP, Like The Season, was released in 2006. It was accompanied by the EP, Who Left The Lights On? Another EP, It’s Alright, followed in 2007.

Steely Dan: Gaucho
Steely Dan is summed up by picturing a 57-year-old man driving a convertible Chrysler LeBaron 100 miles per hour down Sunset Boulevard super high on coke. He just signed the papers on a new yacht and then found out he was officially bankrupt. But its all good amigo. You’ve got a spangled leather poncho.

Randy Newman: Sail Away
Listen to “Memo To My Son” and then call your dad. Listen to “Political Science” and then turn off CNN. Listen “Dayton, Ohio — 1903” and watch a leaf fall in slow motion in the background of a mini-van commercial.

D’Angelo: Voodoo
This album made me want to record a ton of vocal harmonies. It also made me want to quit music.

Flaming Lips: Soft Bulletin
This album was given to me in 1997 or 1998. I was confused for three months but didn’t listen to anything else. Confusion gave way to a triumphant feeling of “I can do anything!”

Pat Metheny Group: First Circle
I used to listen to this tape in my red Isuzu Trooper coming home late at night from parties in San Diego. This whole album works as a soundtrack to my high school experience. Buy this album and go to the beach at night.

Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel: The Gift
This is a Christmas album. It’s some of the heaviest music I’ve ever heard. Some people would call it new age or easy listening. I would call it the music of staring at the mantle when you’re 8 and checking out the look of love in your great grandmother’s eyes as she looks at her extended family.

John Adams: The Chairman Dances
This piece of music defined the years 1998-2000 for me. I listened to it while walking at night in the Upper Queen Anne area of Seattle. John Adams plays the orchestra like Patrick O’Hearn plays his DAT machine.

Various Artists: Guitar’s Practicing Musicians Vol. 2
This was a compilation put out by the aforementioned Guitar magazine in 1991. I heard Nuno Bettencourt, Blues Saraceno and Eric Johnson and got emotional.

Patrick O’Hearn: Between Two Worlds
A guy at a high-end stereo shop showed my dad and I the power of Sony’s new Discman by blasting the track “Forever The Optimist.”

Extreme: III Sides To Every Story
This is one of the worst albums of all time, but for some weird reason I know every lyric and guitar solo.

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