Album Reviews

Various Artists – The OC Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks

(WEA) UK release date: 4 December 2006

Despite what such things as your ‘better judgement’, ‘gut feeling’, ‘common sense’ or even your parents might say, The O.C is one of the finest things on television. It is a deep sadness then that it seems the plug has finally been pulled on the show, which as The Guardian‘s Jonathan Bernstein said recently, has “the lethal combination of the most likable, well-written characters on TV and the worst storylines in history.” Too true.

But despite the bilge that infects the plotlines like myxomatosis (driving its victim to a slow and undeserved death), The O.C provided this absurd age with such a timely and beautiful consecration of artifice and in Seth Cohen, what all young men with ambitions towards geek-chic and self-deprecating wryness should aspire to be. I for one, wish I was him.

But Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks is a fairly earnest affair. A collection of songs that play over those scenes at the end of each episode when our heroes wrangle with their inner angst, each track is a cover version of tracks by fairly big names, from ‘the world’s finest emerging talents’. Modest Mouse‘s Float On is probably the pick of the album, interpreted by one Goldspot who invest in it a charming power-pop delirium.

Pinback’s cover of Black Flag‘s ode to slacking, Wasted, is slightly inadequate, but not nearly as horrific as Lady Sovereign taking her hoi-polloi-ska-pop to The Sex Pistols‘ Pretty Vacant. Her inclusion on this CD confirms the fact that for some unfathomable reason she seems to be getting somewhere in the US. I do apologise, but vocals that sound directly lifted from outside Leytonstone tube station surely have no place representing the beautiful people of Newport Beach.

John Paul White renders ELO‘s Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, with Rufus Wainwright clearly in his head, what with slightly pretentious drawly vocals and an overly operatic production. Another unfortunate moment is when Mates Of State slow down, strip down and nullify the (admittedly limited) attraction of California by Phanton Planet (O.C theme tune).

The splendidly named Syd Matters brush up Super Furry Animals‘ Hello Sunshine into a folktronica number aimed at stoners everywhere. Smile Like You Mean It sees Tally Hall taking this bland track by O.C-favourites The Killers and make it even blander. UK indie is represented by Clinic, whose Come Into My Room is transformed into a delightfully brooding, Depeche Mode-esque anthem by The M‘s.

All in all the sixth instalment in the series of O.C mix albums is highly listenable, if slightly grating at times. It would probably appeal to that part of the brain where one’s inner Cohen lurks more than that chamber where arch miserablist Ryan mopes and deliberates about how he can next assert his alpha masculinity. The most inventive cover versions here come from the true heart of The O.C, that is, a peculiarly camp and fantastical take on melodrama that seems to be the only answer to the turmoil of a ridiculously wealthy life. Poor things.

The album closes with Into Dust, a Mazzy Star tune deconstructed by Chris Holmes into a psychedelic piece of mellow electronica. A woozy, lilting and hypnotizing coda to the Mix 6, and indeed the most smartly decadent TV show of our times.

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Various Artists – Tom Middleton Presents Crazy Covers Vol 2
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Various Artists – The OC Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks
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