Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing their favorite musician perform on Nic Harcourt's live-in-studio public-radio program, Morning Becomes Eclectic on Los Angeles' KCRW, might rightly wonder why they would need to own a mixed-bag collection of those same performances on compact disc. After all, Harcourt's daily show is whittled down weekly into its own best-of program, Sounds Eclectic, from which this compilation takes its name, and which is distributed to dozens of public-radio stations across the country. (Although, sadly, none in Pittsburgh currently carries the show.) Also, every Sounds Eclectic live session, from Air and Coldplay to Wilco and the Zutons, is archived online at www.soundseclectic.com.
Freebie options notwithstanding, however, the Sounds Eclectic 3 disc is easily worth its price of admission for convenience (and curatorial acuity) alone. And nearly all 13 tracks, while not always eclectic, are stunning. Damien Rice's breathless version of "The Blower's Daughter" is practically to die for, as is Radiohead's acoustic turn on "Go to Sleep," and for that matter, the Flaming Lips' surprisingly straight-faced execution of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1." With other artists of note including The Polyphonic Spree, My Morning Jacket, Interpol, Iron & Wine and Steve Earle, Sounds Eclectic amounts to a music-lover's favorite gift to receive: a well-edited mix tape, compiled by a friend who has a much rarer collection that you.