Josh Ottum
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Josh Ottum

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Los Angeles, CA | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Indie

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"Josh Ottum - Watch TV"

Josh Ottum
Watch TV
Tapete Records
"College rock" as an operating phrase died some time back but sometimes the sentiment can be accurate, in that Josh Ottum is currently going to grad school at UC Irvine. But the Seattle transplant has been doing music for longer, while his latest album Watch TV does have something of the not-quite-the-sixties/not-quite-punk-rock feeling of 80s alternative as such. Still, it's very much a here-and-now release in the end, the kind of carefully constructed and written pop/rock that would seem happily at home on KCRW and NPR in general. From the start, "Goin' Gone" shows that Ottum is if nothing else a Brian Wilson devotee, with the swooning harmonies and sweetly breezy feeling of mid- to late-'60s Beach Boys in full effect, and afterechoes can be heard throughout the album. "Not Built for Two"'s keyboards are an homage to early eighties pop songwriting as much as the massed vocal breaks are a nod to "Cabinessence," while "Feel Real Bright" strips it all down to drum machine beats and acoustic guitar at the start but by the end is a mini-orchestral number, tubular bells and choir synths and more fleshing it all out.

Ottum also has an ear for changing things up midsong, an understated twist of expectations. The initially quieter "Fool in the Night" tenses up with a quietly ominous piano part followed later with feedback and heavier drumming galore. "Green in the Sun" stands out as well for its slightly stark, reserved verses that the swooning chorus doesn't quite offset, creating a feeling of unease in something as simple as how Ottum calmly sings and how the drums and bass define that part of the song more than the guitar. It's all an easygoing listen in the end, and sometimes there's always just enough room for the pleasant. - OC Weekly


"Josh Ottum - Watch TV"

Josh Ottum
Watch TV
Tapete Records
"College rock" as an operating phrase died some time back but sometimes the sentiment can be accurate, in that Josh Ottum is currently going to grad school at UC Irvine. But the Seattle transplant has been doing music for longer, while his latest album Watch TV does have something of the not-quite-the-sixties/not-quite-punk-rock feeling of 80s alternative as such. Still, it's very much a here-and-now release in the end, the kind of carefully constructed and written pop/rock that would seem happily at home on KCRW and NPR in general. From the start, "Goin' Gone" shows that Ottum is if nothing else a Brian Wilson devotee, with the swooning harmonies and sweetly breezy feeling of mid- to late-'60s Beach Boys in full effect, and afterechoes can be heard throughout the album. "Not Built for Two"'s keyboards are an homage to early eighties pop songwriting as much as the massed vocal breaks are a nod to "Cabinessence," while "Feel Real Bright" strips it all down to drum machine beats and acoustic guitar at the start but by the end is a mini-orchestral number, tubular bells and choir synths and more fleshing it all out.

Ottum also has an ear for changing things up midsong, an understated twist of expectations. The initially quieter "Fool in the Night" tenses up with a quietly ominous piano part followed later with feedback and heavier drumming galore. "Green in the Sun" stands out as well for its slightly stark, reserved verses that the swooning chorus doesn't quite offset, creating a feeling of unease in something as simple as how Ottum calmly sings and how the drums and bass define that part of the song more than the guitar. It's all an easygoing listen in the end, and sometimes there's always just enough room for the pleasant. - OC Weekly


"Indie pop’s wet dream: the most brilliant album of the year, and it’s only January!"

Album opener “It’s Alright� makes its grand entrance to my life, flooding my ears with deliciously noodly, fingerpicked guitars that literally make you stop in your tracks and force you to bow down to the sheer amazingness. Josh Ottum’s clear and accomplished voice enters with the sweetest lyrics, “it’s alright/ we probably look best in the night/ when we ain’t even doing it right/ just starting out lonely with the feelings and the fights�; then shortly destroys you in a brilliant way when the immaculately timed band drop in easily and bump your soul into gear.

“The Easy Way Out� brings swaggering off beat drums hook up with the piano’s simplicity, tumbling fluidly through a bunch of different timings, introducing a soulful horn section. Again, his voice stands out perfectly, as halfway through, the song twists schizophrenically; coming to a halt, and seeming to then build itself up again from scratch - yet none of the band misses a single beat, it’s an impressive feat. But you’d expect nothing less from such a band: made up of Sufjan Stevens’ percussionists no less, and also joined by multi-instrumentalists James McAlister and Casey Foubert: a fusion of talent and a demonstration of compatibility in a band; it’s clear throughout the album the ease at which the band work together.

Impressively this debut solo album already sounds like an indie pop classic, and in a way is a greatest hits record: Josh Ottum chose his favourite songs that he’s written from the last eight years to present on one outstanding CD. Layers of sweeping melodies and intertwining instruments compliment the masterful songwriting. The shimmering guitars and experimental feel to the album closer “Do You Really Want To Know?� which begins with a choir of voices setting out their harmonies before the band comes crashing in chaotically in ace timing.

This is an incredible album, of shiny, crisp pop songs boasting gorgeous harmonies; every track exquisite and ambitious. Gives you something to believe in again.


By Katie Probert

This release was published on 05 Feb 2007. - www.subba-cultcha.com


"Indie pop’s wet dream: the most brilliant album of the year, and it’s only January!"

http://www.subba-cultcha.com/article.php?id=4217

Album opener “It’s Alright� makes its grand entrance to my life, flooding my ears with deliciously noodly, fingerpicked guitars that literally make you stop in your tracks and force you to bow down to the sheer amazingness. Josh Ottum’s clear and accomplished voice enters with the sweetest lyrics, “it’s alright/ we probably look best in the night/ when we ain’t even doing it right/ just starting out lonely with the feelings and the fights�; then shortly destroys you in a brilliant way when the immaculately timed band drop in easily and bump your soul into gear.

“The Easy Way Out� brings swaggering off beat drums hook up with the piano’s simplicity, tumbling fluidly through a bunch of different timings, introducing a soulful horn section. Again, his voice stands out perfectly, as halfway through, the song twists schizophrenically; coming to a halt, and seeming to then build itself up again from scratch - yet none of the band misses a single beat, it’s an impressive feat. But you’d expect nothing less from such a band: made up of Sufjan Stevens’ percussionists no less, and also joined by multi-instrumentalists James McAlister and Casey Foubert: a fusion of talent and a demonstration of compatibility in a band; it’s clear throughout the album the ease at which the band work together.

Impressively this debut solo album already sounds like an indie pop classic, and in a way is a greatest hits record: Josh Ottum chose his favourite songs that he’s written from the last eight years to present on one outstanding CD. Layers of sweeping melodies and intertwining instruments compliment the masterful songwriting. The shimmering guitars and experimental feel to the album closer “Do You Really Want To Know?� which begins with a choir of voices setting out their harmonies before the band comes crashing in chaotically in ace timing.

This is an incredible album, of shiny, crisp pop songs boasting gorgeous harmonies; every track exquisite and ambitious. Gives you something to believe in again.


By Katie Probert

This release was published on 05 Feb 2007. - www.subba-cultcha.com


"Maverick Magazine (UK)"

http://www.millpondrecords.com/millpond_promo/downloads/ottum-MaverickReview.jpg - Maverick Magazine (UK)


"NME"

http://millpondrecords.com/?pageName=Press#jopress - Stephen Bass


"Times-Standard"

Josh Ottum is a solo artist, but you can't call him a singer/songwriter. I don't think he'd mind; he does sing and write songs, but he's just not a guy with an acoustic guitar writing three-chord love songs.

Ottum may very well be the model for a new breed of pop musician in this young century: the post-modern singer-songwriter. Pulling from an impressive and wide array of genres and influences, Ottum's songs are at once catchy ditties and mind-bending experiments.

A track might settle into nice groove with some falsetto soul vocals, but that's interrupted by a fuzz-rock chorus, which immediately gives way to a backwards guitar solo followed by an electronic drum break, and then into a pleasant acoustic bridge.

Even that doesn't begin to describe the disparate elements. Keep listening. Is that an oboe solo? A funk horn section? An entire orchestra playing the chords with a synth bass holding down the low end? What does this guy think he's doing?

Ottum's first solo album (he's made others, including one with the duo Friends for Heroes and three as Mister Pleasant) started out as a modest affair, recorded at home like most of his previous projects, until Mill Pond Records got wind of it.

"I was making it in my bedroom and was gonna put it out myself," said Ottum from San Diego. "Mill Pond heard it and was really interested in putting it out, and basically from there I had support and a whole budget to work with. I went into the back catalogue of the last eight years of writing songs and ended up choosing the ones that sounded the best. So it's kind of a greatest hits and a first album."

Instead of sitting alone at his computer, Ottum found himself in a recording studio, re-working songs with the likes of James McAllister (Ester Drang, Sufjan Stevens' band), Casey Foubert (the Crystal Skulls, Pedro the Lion), a full horn section and a number of other collaborators.

"With this album I took enough time to make sure the songs sounded the way I wanted them to," said Ottum. "You can listen to albums and kind of tell which ones are the ones that have been labored over, and albums where they're just a little phase, a moment in time. I've found that (a combination of) both is the best."

Ottum's current tour finds him collaborating with bassist Daniel Sutliff and drummer Josh Raymer, all of whom are traveling the West Coast "in a little Honda." Tonight's show at the Pearl is their final stop in California, and they're hoping for something a little more inspiring than their recent show in Ashland, Ore. ("We had a great rehearsal in the club. A bunch of people came in when we were finishing up.")

Ottum's songs are complex things, but at their core they are memorably poppy. (I dare you to listen to "Freedom Is As Thick As A Heart" at myspace.com/joshottum and not immediately begin humming it.) To hear him in a tiny, intimate club with a small band will be a rare delight. - Times-Standard


"San Francisco Guardian"

Josh Ottum
It's no secret that our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest have long been innovators in the DIY art and music scene, and Seattle's Josh Ottum is a good example. An eccentric take on today's singer-songwriter standards, Ottum's music is often quirky but always compositionally and emotionally complex. Vocal harmonies layered with guitars, multiple drums, and a horn section create the effect of a Polaroid picture that appears to be carefully staged, capturing a moment in a way that feels so simple and haphazard, yet so undeniably perfect. Ottum's first album, Like the Season (due out later this year on Mill Pond), is an earnest collection of such whimsical snapshots in time, featuring members of Sufjan Stevens's band and Crystal Skulls. (Jenny Miyasaki)
With Hard Place, Totally Radd, and DJ Oonce Oonce
8 p.m.
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
$8
(415) 861-2011
www.rickshawstop.com - Jenny Mayasaki


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Since late 2007, Ottum has done several West Coast and European tours followed by a successful month-long
residency at LAs respected Tangier Club. Along the way Josh has toured and shared the stage with M. Ward, The
Walkmen, Alexi Murdoch, Stereolab, Cold War Kids, Rosie Thomas, Midlake, The Sea and Cake. Additionally, Ottum has recorded with members of The Shins and David Bazan. Like The Season has topped multiple critics polls and been featured in NME.

Josh released his second full-length entitled Watch TV in the summer of 2011. He followed this up by playing select shows on the west coast and a month-long tour in Europe. Josh's music has been featured on MTV, Mad Men, NPR, etc. Josh is currently working on a third solo record that will feature Rosie Thomas and Yuuki Matthews (The Shins).

See video of Josh playing live by simply searching for him on YouTube.

Band Members