Various Artists

The O.C. Mix 2

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More proof that The O.C. wants to wrest the title of "musically hippest TV series" away from The Gilmore Girls comes from The O.C. Mix 2. Granted, Seth, Summer, Ryan, and Marissa's taste in music still isn't nearly as broad or deep as Lorelei, Rory, and Lane's, but Mix 2 is a bigger and better affair than The O.C. Mix 1; at a respectable 16 tracks long, this volume of the soundtrack reflects The O.C.'s increasing focus on music in its second season. This includes the kids getting their own version of Beverly Hills 90210's club the Peach Pit: The Bait Shop, as it's known, features performances from bands like the Killers and the Walkmen, whose "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Little House of Savages," respectively, are two of the album's highlights. Along with the beautifully brooding post-post-punk angst of Interpol's "Specialist," these tracks show a willingness to go beyond the easygoing, slightly wistful alt-pop that dominates The O.C.'s musical aesthetics. But even within this sound, The O.C. Mix 2 stretches the boundaries a bit by mixing tracks like Dios Malos' "You Got Me All Wrong," Super Furry Animals' "Hello Sunshine," and Beulah's "Popular Mechanics for Lovers" in with more expected songs such as Eels' "Saturday Morning" and Death Cab for Cutie's "A Lack of Color." While the majority of the soundtrack is within the confines of the show's trademark sound, most of the songs are decent examples of the styles they represent: Patrick Park's "Something Pretty" and Johnathan Rice's "So Sweet" are pleasant enough singer/songwriter fare for the preteen set, and Keane's "Walnut Tree" shows why so many Coldplay fans also like this band. The soundtrack's only true missteps are its covers: Nada Surf's drippy rendition of OMD's "If You Leave" and Jem's "Maybe I'm Amazed" aren't nearly as fresh or distinctive as some of these artists' other work, to say nothing of the original versions of these songs. Nevertheless, The O.C. Mix 2 does more things right than it does wrong; with any luck, as the show's popularity and audience grows, its musical adventurousness will do the same.

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