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Brazil makes it rock debut

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sao Paulo (Reuters): Two young Brazilian bands will hit the United States this summer with a tour that should blow away stereotyped ideas of the country's music. Instead of lilting bossa nova rhythms or thumping samba drums, audiences can expect screaming vocals, electronic samples, heavy bass and jokey lyrics. The avowed mission of electro-popsters CSS and carioca funksters Bonde do Role: To make people dance and have fun. Both bands emerged from Brazil's underground scene and their popularity grew through word of mouth and across the Internet.

CSS is an acronym for Cansei de Ser Sexy (Tired of Being Sexy). When they formed three years ago in Sao Paulo, only one member knew how to play an instrument and they had no ambitions to make it big. ''We've never had expectations about anything. We are just very happy and eager to work,'' said guitarist Luiza Sa, one of five women in the six-strong band. Their first demos were raw. Lo-fi tracks combining elements of rock and electro, shrieking vocals on top of crude guitars and electronic samples. Their shows were wild, with water fights between stage and audience and their half-Japanese singer Luisa ''Lovefoxxx'' Matsushita singing from the crowd.

As songs, photos and fliers were uploaded to the Web, their fan base grew. ''Everything followed its natural course but in a very intense way,'' Lovefoxxx said. In late 2004, they were invited to play at a big Brazilian festival that also featured British rockers Primal Scream. They recorded two independent EPs before signing with a Brazilian label which put out two discs-'Cansei de Ser Sexy'' and ''CSS Suxxx.'' While their songs were originally recorded in Portuguese, one of their discs has versions in English.

The recordings caught the attention of US label Sub Pop, famous for discovering Nirvana and home of Mudhoney and Hot Hot Heat. ''I was immediately hooked. As soon as I put it in the stereo I found myself calling other people over to listen with me,'' Sub Pop's Tony Kiewel said.

Kiewel proposed a deal for releasing the record in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan without even meeting the band. ''It's incredibly rare to find a band who manages to be both interesting and fun. They are all incredibly charismatic people,'' he said. The band's first single-''Let's make love and listen to death from above'' -should hit stores in June and a full-length album is due in July. ''Whenever I tell an American that I've started working with a band from Brazil they always ask if they're a Tropicalia band. I expect that CSS will let them all know that Brazil has a diverse and informed music scene,'' Kiewel said.

CSS will team up with Bonde do Role for a 30-date tour of the United States and Canada starting in Lansing, Michigan, on July 12. CSS will perform in English on the tour while Bonde Do Role will sing in Portuguese. The idea for the tour came from American DJ Diplo, responsible for M.I.A.'s hit ''Bucky done gun'' and who will also join them. Bonde do Role came together in Curitiba in southern Parana state when DJs Pedro D'eyrot, Rodrigo Gorky and MC Marina Ribatski met.

They started experimenting with funk carioca -- a style born in Rio de Janeiro's slums and influenced by Miami bass -- in May 2005. Their first songs were played at parties then they received invitations for live performances. ''We had no intention of making a trio. Bonde do Role is one song that got bigger and bigger,'' D'eyrot said. Their music delivers a mixture of funk beats and guitar samples from bands like AC/DC and Alice in Chains, with funny lyrics about anything from skin diseases to oral sex.

After only a few months, they were exchanging e-mails with Diplo, who had just started his Mad Decent label. ''A friend of mine sent me some of Bonde's things. I thought they were awesome,'' the DJ said. The band is the label's first release. Their debut single ''Melo do Tabaco'' is already available in the United States and their debut CD is expected to come out in August. Rolling Stone magazine named them in a ''10 bands to watch'' feature.

Before hitting the road with CSS and Diplo, Bonde do Role has concerts scheduled for Europe from May 12 to 20. For both tours the trio has only one goal, Marina and D'eyrot said: ''To make the people dance!''

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