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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Danses macabres from Johnny Marr & Foster the People - plus Aurora, Subshine, Bob Mould

There's a strain of fatalism in a couple of our new releases this week--

Johnny Marr's "Armatopia" - the title mashes Armageddon and Utopia - takes a jaundiced view of humanity's chances of saving its environment, with references to a "hissing, fizzing atmosphere" and the "kiss of history" over a bouncy, danceable beat. "So let's dance to the sound of our time running out / And watch the smoke on the breeze of the rising seas." The single comes as Marr launches a North American tour supporting Call the Comet, the album he released last year.

Foster the People also seem to be dancing to oblivion on their new single, "Style," which opens with "We're born to die so I'm gonna fight for how I wanna live" and merrily rolls along to the refrain "If you're gonna take me out / take me out in style." Frontman Mark Foster says of the song's theme, "When we face the question of our own mortality, we are free to live our lives without fear.” There's no word on whether the band has a new album in the works.

Perhaps Norway's Aurora is simply giving up on the world of humans. She's a beast in a concrete jungle on her new single, "Animal." In the music video, she actually breaks from a cage and runs through city streets before ending up at a hedonistic rave. "Let me become an animal / 'Cause when you are an animal / You lose control."

Would we put two Norwegian artists in our New Music bin in the same week? Why not? Subshine is the new project of singer-songwriter Ole Gunnar Gundersen, formerly of a band called Lorraine. Subshine's new single "Easy" is our first exposure to his music. It's an upbeat pop number that mixes gauzy synths with a propulsive beat in a style slightly reminiscent of War On Drugs. The debut album Easy Window is due April 26.

There's not a synth to be heard on Bob Mould's "What Do You Want Me To Do" - just the crash of guitars and drums and the Husker Du alumnus' half-shouted vocal. It's a frustrated lover's lament packaged in two and a half minutes of flat-out rock from Mould's latest LP, Sunshine Rock.   

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