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Sounds Eclectic 3 (Palm Pictures)

To be taken under the wing of Nic Harcourt, the mastermind behind the taste-making L.A. public-radio show Morning Becomes Eclectic, you need do one of three things: 1) Write gently melodic songs about moral uplift and the triumph of the human spirit. 2) Fold into your music mild hints of international exotica. 3) Espouse good-natured lefty politics.

On Sounds Eclectic 3, the third compilation of intimate live performances culled from the show's on-air archives, Harcourt assembles a handy set of inspiring examples. From the first category, you get slightly scaled-down tent-revival alt-pop from the Polyphonic Spree, a woozy piano-bar reading of the Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1," and Damien Rice's personal-as-always "The Blower's Daughter," which, thanks to the trailer for Closer, now joins the Shins' "New Slang" as a song we will forever associate with Natalie Portman's face.

This Eclectic is light on the second category -- "Mirando de Lado," by Kinky, a Mexican dance-rock act, is as international as it gets, unless you count a ragged "Take Me Out" by Glasgow's Franz Ferdinand.

As for the third, alt-country maverick Steve Earle represents with "Jerusalem," his spine-tingling plea for peace in the Middle East.

More by Mikael Wood

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