Union Transfer





Fri, October 21, 2011

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

São Paulo, Brazil's provocative, freewheeling dance-rock sextet CSS take their name from an abbreviation of "cansei de ser sexy," which is Portuguese for "tired of being sexy" (though, considering that the lead singer goes by the name Lovefoxxx, it's arguable how much that phrase actually applies to the band). CSS also include bassist Iracema Trevisan, guitarist/drummer/keyboardist Luiza Sá, guitarist Ana Rezende, guitarist/drummer Carolina Parra, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Adriano Cintra (also a member of Thee Butchers' Orchestra).

The band formed in 2003, after meeting at clubs and through Internet social networking groups such as Fotolog and Trama Virtual, and began crafting its unique but unpretentious sound through trial and error. CSS' net-savvy ways led to them becoming a phenomenon on the Web; their extensively downloaded songs eventually caught the attention of more traditional media in Brazil and Europe. The band released two EPs on their own in 2004, Em Rotterdam Ja e uma Febre and A Onda Mortal/Uma Tarde com PJ, before signing to Trama Virtual in 2005. That fall, their debut album, Cansei de Ser Sexy, was released in Brazil, along with a bonus EP, CSS SUXXX. The members of CSS also used their other talents to forge the band's distinctive image: Lovefoxxx and Parra are graphic designers, Trevisan is a fashion designer, Rezende is a film student (and directed the video for the song "Off the Hook"), while Sá attends art school.

Early in 2006, Sub Pop signed the band and the label released Cansei de Ser Sexy in North America that summer. Shortly after the album's release, CSS did a string of dates in Canada and the U.S. with Diplo and Bonde do Role. The band's touring continued into 2007, with dates supporting Ladytron, Gwen Stefani, and Klaxons as well as a gig at that year's Lollapalooza festival. Late that year, their song "Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex" was used in an iPod commercial, and its popularity made it the highest-charting single by a Brazilian band in Billboard history. CSS' second album, Donkey, was produced by Cintra and mixed by Mark "Spike" Stent; shortly before its release in summer 2008, bassist Trevisan left the group. While touring in support of the album, the band continued to write songs, and went into the studio with collaborators including Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Ratatat. The results were the dance-punk-reggae fusion of La Liberacion, which arrived in mid-2011 via V2 Records.
MEN is a Brooklyn-based band and art/performance collective that focuses on the energy of live performance and radical potential of dance music. MEN speaks to issues such as wartime economies, sexual compromise, and demanding liberties through lyrical content and an exciting stage show. The group began in 2007 as the DJ/production/remix team of LE TIGRE members JD Samson and Johanna Fateman. When the duo began to write new songs, it made sense to merge their efforts with JD's other new project HIRSUTE. JD and Hirsute members Michael O'Neill (Princess, Ladybug Transistor) and Ginger Brooks Takahashi (LTTR, The Ballet) now comprise the core of MEN, with Johanna and artist Emily Roysdon contributing as writers, consultants, and producers.
Introducing herself as a solo artist with the epically rocking seven-minute single “The Grey Ship” – backed by “Kind Heart,” her slowly rambunctious and flailing sixteen minute take on Robert Johnson’s classic “Kind Hearted Woman” – EMA invites you deeper into her world with her debut album, Past Life Martyred Saints due on May 10, 2011.
Fans of guitar noise will already know EMA from her time as the scorching guitarist in legendary folk/noise outfit Amps For Christ. She went on to form the genre-defying cult duo Gowns with Ezra Buchla, which was called “one of the most heart-stoppingly great live bands on planet Earth” by Pitchfork and about which, upon seeing their captivating, volatile live show, the Village Voice spluttered succinctly: “Holy fucking fuck.” Gowns’ 2007 debut album Red State was an electronic folk and feedback-drenched masterpiece that left critics both raving and bewildered. It sadly proved to be their last. The upside is that Gowns’ musical crossroads led to the unveiling of EMA, who has since opened for Throbbing Gristle on their last US tour. Did we also mention she relocated to LA when she was just 18, because she really liked ‘Welcome to the Jungle’?

A native of South Dakota – the sparsely inhabited north end of America’s heartland (her blog is called ‘came outta nowhere’) – EMA has a unique and at times dervish-like guitar style, a skill for visceral songwriting, and a DIY recording ethos that has seen her develop a distinctive sonic signature. Her songs are somewhat neurotically assembled and essentially raw, the product of obsession by somebody who never learned the ‘right’ way to do things. Besides making music, EMA has been involved in video, performance and curating multimedia shows in West Oakland and LA.

If there is a grand unifying theory behind Past Life Martyred Saints, it’s that EMA treats fidelity and distortion like another instrument, being obsessed with the question of analogue vs. digital. Songs switch seamlessly between lo-fi 4-track grunge, gloriously trashy dance beats and damaged girl group ballads, like all the car radio hits of the past fifty years absorbed and sweated out through pores of distortion, feedback and reverence.

Not being able to technically write music but looking for a way to represent the Glenn Branca-inspired “Kind Heart,” EMA drew the song out like map, creating a graphic score she likened to a musical equivalent of the ‘Hobo Code.’ Her work on redefining classic American folk music has led to a currently underway collaboration with the Kronos Quartet.

Album opener “The Grey Ship” is a nod to the Viking funeral ships of EMA’s ancestors, and while pop logic dictates the tune is divided into two parts – one sunny and strummy and the other low-lit and dramatic – the recording also switches up from lo-fi to hi-fi. Just listen for the BASS DROP. The song also features appearances from Buchla and Corey Fogel of Gowns.

As EMA explains, “I wanted ‘The Grey Ship’ to change fidelity in the middle of the song. I imagined it being like when Dorothy opens the door to Oz and the whole world turns from black and white to Technicolor.” That change in fidelity also serves as a coruscating “sonic signifier” for transferring from the earthly plane to one beyond.

In “California,” we find a fuzzed-up, piano ode to EMA’s adoptive home.

“Musically, the track is inspired by ‘My Life’ by The Game,” she says. “It’s a noised-out rap ballad by a Midwestern white girl with lyrical references to Bo Diddley and Stephen Foster.”

“Marked” ups the intensity of the album, as EMA explores a complicated relationship over an eerie guitar strum and keyboard drone, intoning raspily, “I wish that every time he touched me / Left a mark.” It is the captured sound of climbing walls.

“Some wounds don’t leave marks, and they would be almost easier to explain if they did,” EMA says. “I heard a story once about Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, where they got in a huge fight out at a club, and one of them got so mad that they went and jumped in the river. Police were called, and once they were finally rescued they joined up and walked back into the club, arm in arm.”

Inspired by a “teen goth murder” that happened outside of LA, “Butterfly Knife” draws on EMA’s own experiences growing up and has a squalling, rhythmic guitar texture underpinning multiple EMA vocals scrabbling for air in the mix.

Both “Breakfast,” with its impeccable refrain “you feel just like a breeze to me,” and album closer “Red Star” are more fully fleshed out band tracks, featuring EMA’s sister Nikki Anderson on drums and Aaron Davis (who also records solo as ACRE) on bass. On these tracks, we can hear how EMA’s vocal melodies really soar in tandem with her distinctive guitar style, and, when alongside the militaristic, drum-riddled “trashy sex romp” of “Milkman,” indicate a depth of influences and studio intuition that would make other producers blush and run for the hills.

With her mix of whisper-to-yell dynamics, intimate and visceral expression, honesty of voice, and studio playfulness, she is a singular talent who completely compels the listener. EMA’s songs are filled with harmonies and hooks that exist right in those sweet spots between melody and dissonance. It is a knowing voice, the sound of a drunken laugh while crying.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123