The OC Mix 4The latest collection from the popular TV show "The O.C." is out on Warner Bros. and features a mix of up-and-coming artists with proven alt-rock stars like Modest Mouse and Beck. Music From the OC Mix 4 offers the impossibly catchy first single from the Futureheads' debut CD, Decent Days and Nights, which melds clipped, New Wave-esque British vocals with an angular, crunchy power-pop guitar riff.

Mix 4 also includes the ethereal tracks "Goodnight and Go," a teaser from Frou Frou frontwoman Imogen Heap's upcoming solo album, "Play" from Flunk and "Eve, The Apple of My Eye" from Bell X1, a new band that includes members of Damien Rice's former band, Juniper. Beck offers "Scarecrow" and indie pop quintet Matt Pond PA offer a cover of the Oasis hit "Champagne Supernova" that was recorded specifically for the show and prominently featured in a February episode.

You don't really expect a star-worthy Latin band to gestate in New Jersey. But that's where deSol began its odyssey, which has led it to open concerts for R.E.M., play a Miami Dolphins halftime show, score a record deal and find a manager in the person of Franke Previte, the Academy Award-winning songwriter of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (from "Dirty Dancing").

DeSol lead singer Albie Monterrosa grew up in Queens, the son of El Salvadoran immigrants. When he connected with a Puerto Rican bongo player, his rock 'n' roll songs suddenly took a turn on the salsa side. Two years later, and the band surrounding him is a full-fledged Latin rock combo, poised to rival the likes of Los Lonely Boys and Ricky Martin on the charts.

Featuring guitar leads that pay homage to Santana (they even sing about Carlos Santana on one track of their upcoming album), and offering a mix of Spanish and English lyrics atop electric guitar and street-dancin' bongo percussion, deSol has the hooks and sound to capture the airwaves this summer (its debut will be released in July on Curb Records).

Tonight, deSol opens for The Wailers at Chicago's Park West. With writeups in The New York Times, L.A. Times and Boston Globe, it may not be long before they're playing much larger venues — and with their own opening act.


Glen Phillips Glen Phillips  
Winter Pays for Summer
(Lost Highway)

Toad The Wet Sprocket lead singer Glen Phillips has had an amazing two-decade career while still in his early 30s. After all, Phillips joined his friends in Toad when he was just 14, and the band had signed to Columbia Records while still in their teens, thanks to the self-financed demo album the band had recorded.

After a handful of albums, and hits such as "Walk on the Ocean" and "All I Want," the members of Toad decided to go their own ways, and Phillips, now a father, released his first solo disc in 2000, the folky Abulum. Now he offers Winter Pays for Summer, a more upbeat collection that can't help but draw positive comparisons to his work with Toad.

The disc opens with “Duck and Cover,” an inspiring catchy song about getting through the trials of life (“one way or another/winter pays for the summer”) that could have easily appeared in the midst of Toad's Fear or Dulcinea discs. Over an easy beat and jangling guitars Phillips suggests that people should face troubles head-on because

“one way or another
a man's gonna suffer…
there's nothing too special about getting hurt
getting over it
that takes the work.”

That powerful opener seques into the hard sliding guitar riffs of “Thankful,” where Phillips suggests “we've both got a lot to be thankful for” with a bevy of adventurous chord shifts, roadhouse piano and background vocals. “Finally Fading” is a strong pop contender with a hint of twang in its lead guitar and Phillips trademark big harmony call-and-response vocals in the chorus. Things quiet down with “Courage,” an easy listening track reminiscient of the '70s California sound typified by the early work of Jackson Browne.

Phillips offers another quiet inspirational track in “Released,” a lightly strummed acoustic guitar and piano ballad of reunion:

“when I am released
the gates fly open before me
when I am released
you'll still be waiting for me.”

The snapping drums and guitars of “Falling” again echo the best work of Toad, as Phillips offers another pop radio-ready single with just the slightest hint of “Lion Sleeps Tonight” style background vocals.

Phillips has a knack for writing inspirational, contemplative, intelligent lyrics, and melding them to soaring, beautiful melodies. “Winter Pays for Summer” is packed with examples, and it ends with one of its best. “Don't Need Anything” closes the album with a simple piano and organ hymn that brings to mind Billy Joel. It's a Thanksgiving anthem for all of the simple things in life we take for granted, and a love song. He sings:

“Got clothes on my back
food on my plate
got friends to help me if I call for the
…got eyes to see this beautiful land
feet to take me wherever I want to stand
if there's work to be done
there's these two strong hands…
I don't need anything that I don't have.”

With an all-star cast (Phillips has guest players, such as Ben Folds, Jon Brion and members of Semisonic, Jellyfish, Goo Goo Dolls and Elvis Costello's band, among others), and some of the most heartfelt songs of his career, Winter Pays for Summer is this spring's don't-miss disc.