The Magic Whip

What The Magic Whip does is downright remarkable: it’s not designed for anyone but existing Blur fans, catering to them only while deliberately blocking out any newcomers with its lazy, bizarre and somewhat demented take on pop formality. This is a goofy record, featuring a kind of scattershot energy that is usually only mustered by young bands just discovering their love of music for the first time. The formalism of Blur’s earlier comeback single “Under the Westway” was a misnomer, because no one could have ever guessed the next thing that would follow would be The Magic Whip, an album that seems to have been made to please no one else but the band themselves.

—Evan Sawdey, PopMatters.com

Ivan & Alyosha

It’s All Just Pretend

It’s All Just Pretend finds the Seattle outfit Ivan & Alyosha expanding from a quartet to a quintet, with drummer Cole Mauro joining Pete Wilson (bass), Tim Kim (guitar) and founding members Tim Wilson (lead vox, guitar) and Ryan Carbary (guitar, piano). While the allusion to “The Brothers Karamazov” in the band’s name might suggest a certain highfalutin literary pretension about their music (a la the Decemberists), but such is not the case. As the album cut “Modern Man” evinces, these five musicians are in the business of writing straightforward and honest music. It helps that it rocks, too, as the ’70s classic rock tone on “Modern Man’s” guitars evince.


Damogen Furies

On his 16th studio LP, Damogen Furies, Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) comes at the listener with a veritable barrage of glitchy electronics, pummeling bass and spastic rhythmic shifts. Individual motifs and melodies come to the fore in each track, but in most cases they end up being submerged in tangential layers that push these tunes in increasingly, and for the most part pleasingly, erratic directions. On the whole, there is a feeling of homogeneity that starts to arise; even composition as spastic as this can grow to become familiar. Nevertheless, what a thrill ride this is.

—Brice Ezell, PopMatters.com

Ava Luna

Other releases out this week:

Braids, Deep in the Iris

Colin Stetson, Never Were the Way She Was

Eric Clapton, Forever Man

Everclear, Black is the New Black

Josh Groban, Stages

The Leisure Society, The Fine Art of Hanging On

Mew, + –

Nai Harvest, Hairball

Roomful of Teeth and Wally Gunn, Render

Zac Brown Band, Jekyll + Hyde

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