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Monday, January 23, 2017

This week's new music: Women have the power

After events of the past few days in the U.S.A., it seems appropriate to emphasize female artists in our New Music bin this week.

The great American singer Mavis Staples joins with Canada's Arcade Fire on "I Give You Power." The lyric is simple and clear: "I give you power/over me... But I gotta be free... I give you power/I can take it away." The single was released with this message: "It’s never been more important that we stick together and take care of each other. Love, Mavis Staples and Arcade Fire. All proceeds go to ACLU."

Meanwhile, Katie Stelmanis and her Toronto-based band Austra have just released the well-timed Future Politics, whose theme is the search for new ways of dealing with today's problems. The video for the title track opens with this text: "It's time to build visions that are radically different from anything we've known before." But can we agree on those visions? The images in the video range from hopeful to frightening.

Laura Marling has this to say about her next album, due in March: "I started out writing Semper Femina as if a man was writing about a woman. And then I thought it’s not a man, it’s me — I don’t need to pretend it’s a man to justify the intimacy of the way I’m looking and feeling about women. It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself." On the single "Soothing," Marling sings a vaguely unsettling lyric over a jazz bass line.

Also due in March is a new album from the wonderful Aimee Mann, with an unsettling title, Mental Illness. Mann says of herself, "People think that I write these really depressing songs ... So I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could." The first single, "Goose Snow Cone," is not a waltz, and not exactly sad, but suggestive of internal struggle. "Gotta keep it together when the friends come by," Mann sings in her calm, matter-of-fact way.

In a much lighter vein is a new single from The Courtneys, "Silver Velvet." It's pure power pop from the Vancouver, Canada, trio's forthcoming second album, called, well, The Courtneys II.

We've got other new music waiting to push its way into our Marvelous Mix, so keep checking this page and tuning in our stream to see what we come up with next!

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