Playlist of the Week: Feb. 13, 2015

“Multi-Love”—Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Continuing to craft a unique blend of funky, psychedelic pop, Unknown Mortal Orchestra ditch their guitars for synths and brisk backbeats on “Multi-Love.” The heart-crushing and trashing story of this tune can in many ways be seen as a metaphor for vocalist and arranger Ruban Nielson’s principle talent: fitting together odd and broken pieces of music into succinct masterpieces. Look for this avant-garde gem on the forthcoming album of the same name, due out May 26 on Jagjaguwar Records.

“Don’t Wanna Fight”—Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Wanna Fight” represents a big musical departure from the eternally restless Alabama Shakes. Beginning with a plucky guitar groove that morphs itself into a deep, brooding funk, singer Brittany Howard trades in her signature Janis Joplin croon for the swagger of James Brown, spitting verbal challenges at the listener. This track isn’t meant to be intimidating, however—merely angry, searching for the beauty in uncertain darkness. “Don’t Wanna Fight” is an exciting a taste of what the four-piece is sure to accomplish on its new album, “Sound & Color,” out April 21 on ATO Records.

“Pay No Mind”—Madeon ft. Passion Pit
Teaming up with Passion Pit is just one of the many tricks up the sleeve of French producer Madeon on his debut album, “Adventure,” a record that also boasts collaborations with Bastille and Foster the People. Set for release on March 31, “Pay No Mind” offers a tantalizing glimpse into a world of glimmering pop and distorted keyboards. Also be on the look out for Passion Pit’s latest, “Kindred,” out in April.

“Head Over Heels”—J.D. McPherson
J.D. McPherson has boiled his take on rock and roll down to the essentials on “Head Over Heels,” a song that is a slinky, midtempo instant classic. So timeless are the musical elements of this tune that McPherson has solidified everything that feels right about rockabilly and old school R&B revival in just 288 seconds. “Let The Good Times Roll,” J.D. McPherson’s sophomore release, is available Feb. 10 on Rounder Records.

“Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”—Father John Misty
Astute listeners will recognize Father John Misty (mastermind Josh Tillman from the Fleet Foxes) as one of the best folk rock acts to arise in recent years. With “I Love You, Honeybear,” Father John Misty continues to make a name for Tillman, as he imbues songs like “Chateau Lobby” with a bold and creative beauty, making a powerful statement about love in the 21st century. Although we are only a month into 2015, this album is already sure to be one of the years best.

Retro Pick of the Week:
“Such Great Heights”—Iron & Wine
Love is an elusive and sometimes frustrating endeavor, embodying the highest highs and lowest lows that one can hope to achieve in life. The Iron & Wine cover of “Such Great Heights” embodies that incredible complexity, channeling an honesty as delicate as Sam Beam’s voice and guitar playing. “But everything looks perfect from far away,” croons Beam. We would do well to remember these words. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Teddy Eisenberg is a third year programmer at WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland. He hosts The ’59 Sound, an exploration of rock music, every Thursday morning from 8-10 a.m. and co-hosts the variety talk show Max and Teddy in the Morning at Night (Sometimes) on Mondays from 5-6 p.m. The crackle of vinyl warms him on cold Cleveland nights.