by Andy Wang

There are manifold ways to praise L.A.'s Earlimart. You can say they sound like the Pixies would have if, the Pixies lived on the beach and drank Pacifico every day. You can say that Earlimart often sound so goddamn carefree that they make their laid-back pals in Grandaddy seem wound up (which Grandaddy actually are, but never mind.) You can say that all the indierock influences swirling around in Aaron Espinoza's head inspired him to lock himself up in his house until he emerged with a record (Everywhere Down Here) that sounds like half the bands on Morning Becomes Eclectic merged into one.

But six words are all you need: Best Song Ever On The O.C.!

The O.C., of course, is the biggest driver of indie and alt rock anywhere--bigger than Morning Becomes Eclectic, MTV2's Subterranean, and Matador, Saddle Creek, and Barsuk Records, all combined. The FOX teen soap opera often draws more than 9 million viewers. The band Rooney's sales spiked 200 percent after they played on the show. The O.C. theme song is by celebrity super-popsters Phantom Planet. Adam Brody, who plays geeky indie-boy Seth (a character with an Atom and His Package poster in his bedroom) is obsessed with Death Cab, and the band is a hot O.C. topic.

Josh Schwartz, the show's 28-year-old-creator, loves The Shins, who have been featured on The O.C. , along with Belle & Sebastian and Bright Eyes (to pick only two). Background music when Seth and longtime obsession Summer lost their virginities to each other? The Super Furry Animals' "Hello Sunshine." The forthcoming O.C. soundtrack CD will include Spoon, Doves, and the Dandy Warhols.

However, despite all the competition, Earlimart's "We Drink on the Job" remains the best, most perfect song ever played on the show. "We Drink on the Job" perfectly encapsulates the plight of main character Ryan, the lost boy from Chino who gets a second chance when he's adopted by a family in a town that's rich in every sense of the word.

Ryan is world-weary and limb-weary too, a beaten-down teen who isn't quick to trust anyone. But he does want to be a happy kid. When I think of Earlimart, I think of Ryan in his new family's pool house, trying to convince himself that this will last, willing to settle for whatever joy comes his way.

As Espinoza sings, "Our hands our sad, our bones are tired as hell, but Ronnie's got a few stories to tell."

It sounds like every day of Ryan's life prior to his new life--which is to say, it sounds pretty perfect.