The music supervisors of Fox's hit drama, the O.C., have done it again with their fourth installment of underground, indy, emo.
As an O.C. enthusiast since half-way through the first season, I can honestly say that there is one thing that the O.C. does completely right, and that is, pick music. After each episode of the primetime soap opera (which I affectionately refer to as the cross between 90210 and Melrose Place), Fox gives props to a few standout songs heard on that night's episode. Where 90210 and Melrose Place went wrong (as you'll recall, they both had nightclub hangouts: The Peach Pit After Dark and Kyle's Upstairs) is the part where they had shit music.
The O.C. gets it right by getting the right sound for the times (how many people were listening to jazz in the '90s?), appealing to their characters' taste in music (you'll always hear about how Marisa loves this band or Seth and Summer have seen that band live), and by keeping the music mellow--bringing it out only when appropriate and not making it the center of the show.
Mix 4 pulls together some old favorites and new standards in alt-rock, emo, indy, whatever-you-wanna-call-it-genre. Beck makes an appearance with "Scarecrow" after premiering 5 all-new tracks on a recent episode. Modest Mouse is back with "The View" after performing live on the show. Frou Frou (dressed up as Imogen Heap) shines on "Goodnight and Go."
My favorites are Pinback's "Fortress," where you'll need a copy of the lyrics if you ever hope to belt along with your windows rolled down (my sister and I learned this the hard way); "Cartwheels" by The Reindeer Sections, where delicate vocals meet for coffee over acoustic guitars and a gentle drumbeat and a violin (you'll know it when you hear it); and I really enjoyed Bell X1's "Eve, The Apple of My Eye" because of the glorious piano, enchanting vocals, and the very subtle use of a xylophone and an organ and an acoustic guitar that creeps in after about two minutes, this song is haunting and deserves to be heard.
While these may be my favorite tracks on the CD, the mix, like fine wine, gets better with time.
The song that used to annoy me, The Futurehead's "Decent Days and Nights," is now my new driving standard. It's such an appropriate opening track. Opening tracks were designed to be full of life and energy, prepping you for the musical journey you're about to embark on. The peppy beat and interesting vocal arrangements...well it's just punk fantastic fun. There's no way screaming out "decent days and nights!" a few times along with the track won't pump you up for a long trip. Like I said, it's my driving standard.
A surprise on the disk was the cover of Oasis's "Champagne Supernova" by Matt Pond PA. I was a huge fan of Oasis, but somehow never quite attached myself to this song, always feeling that other tracks on their What's the Story, Morning Glory album were better. But like I told DJHens when I recommended the cover to him, there's an interesting carnival-like feel to this remake: it makes it mellow, easier to listen to. And no one can resist a symphony in the middle of a rock song. It's quintessential. The vocals sound syrupy--nothing like Liam Gallagher's rough and ragged original.
Yes, the music producers over at Fox are doing a damn good job figuring out what songs need to be played--and what songs need to be listened to over and over and over again. This CD resides in my iPod, my car stereo, and my iTunes playlist. I don't mess around when I'm listening to new music, and I love that the O.C. doesn't mess around when it's trying to educate me about it.