Various Artists – Music From The O.C. Mix 1

Admit it. You watch the show religiously. The trials of Marissa and Ryan’s turbulent romance have become as stressful, confusing, and irritating to you as your own relationship, if not more. You find yourself repeating Seth Cohen’s best one-liners. You count Summer and Anna among your closest friends. You have difficulties sleeping because you’re still pondering the significance of the whole Oliver incident. What the hell was all that about anyway?

Well, as if you’re not already too involved in the wonderful world of O.C. obsession, there is now a soundtrack to supplement your addiction. This nearly flawless collection of indie tunes featured in the series will win over even the snobbiest of indie snobs and those who are too cool for ridiculously unrealistic television. Despite the absence of notable O.C. favorites Rooney and Death Cab For Cutie, the mix of songs both fits the show and is thoroughly enjoyable to the average music lover. 

The majority of the mix is dominated by mellow, folky songs, most notably Joseph Arthur’s hauntingly beautiful “Honey and the Moon.” Arthur’s raspy voice, powerful lyrics, and ability to convey raw emotion through a simple song are impressive and unique qualities that leave emo bands green with envy. Doves, Alexi Murdoch, and a Finley Quaye-William Orbit collaboration, which is so cool it is in Air France’s mix of cutting-edge airplane/catwalk music, also add to the overwhelming calm surrounding this album. All in all, this soundtrack is a great stress reliever.

However, this is The O.C. Mix 1, and so the listener can rely on the always dependable Dandy Warhols and up-and-comers The 88 to deliver the party on a synthesizer-laced platter. “We Used To Be Friends” and “How Good It Can Be,” respectively, provide an upbeat bounce, while Texas trio Spoon’s “The Way We Get By” proves that pop rock isn’t always insipid and lame. British singer-songwriter Jem contributes “Just A Ride,” a smartly-crafted pop rarity that complements the breezy cool of the show’s theme song, “California” by Phantom Planet. The only skip-worthy track in this collection is “Move On” by Jet, a band that, at its best, channels AC/DC. Instead, this song channels Kid Rock, playing out like a lost B-side from his “Bawitdaba” record. 

The first installment of the Music From The O.C. series is a great introduction to many of the indie rock underground’s most promising offerings. In a way, the music reflects the show’s casting through its offbeat choices that work out perfectly. The end result is an uncommon soundtrack that won’t end up in the garbage or on the three dollar used rack of your local record store. And, as a bonus, the CD comes with video footage of the featured songs and their corresponding scenes from season one. You can watch it over and over and over as you listen over and over and over. Think of it as a lovingly-crafted mix tape from your friend Seth Cohen.

(Warner Bros.)