Laurel Canyon, the second feature by screenwriter/director Lisa Cholodenko, is a domestic drama set at the Los Angeles home of a record producer, played by Frances McDormand, who is producing an album for her young lover, played by Alessandro Nivola. That setting is perfect for a contemporary rock soundtrack, and executive soundtrack album producers Cholodenko, Karyn Rachtman, Jeff Levy-Hinte, and Scott Ferguson have searched among the recordings of a slew of alternative pop/rock performers to assemble that collection. (As with Cholodenko's first feature, High Art, Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think did the actual background score, not included here.) Tracks from 2001-2002 by the Butthole Surfers, Clinic, Scapegoat Wax, Baxter Dury, and Sparklehorse are included, and the choices are all good ones from the performers' albums. Beck wannabe Leroy is tapped for "Good Time," which could have been excluded, if only because it's already appeared on the 2001 soundtrack to Driven and the 2002 TV soundtrack to Scrubs. There are also some vintage tracks that illuminate specific moments in the film: Steely Dan's "Do It Again," Lee Michaels' "Do You Know What I Mean," T. Rex's "Planet Queen," and Eartha Kitt's "C'est Si Bon." The works of the fictional band, "Shade and Honey" and "Someday I Will Treat You Good," were written by Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse (the latter was the title song of the band's 1995 album) and are performed ably by Nivola backed by Lou Barlow of Folk Implosion (among other things) and his associate Russ Pollard. They fit in fine with the rest, making for a good collection of mood-setting music.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann