EMA’s “California” is a droning ode to a dystopian state; it starts “Fuck California?/You made me boring,” and gets even moodier from there. Among 2011’s best songs thus far, “California” can easily be considered the centerpiece of Past Life Martyred Saints, the debut LP from EMA—a.k.a. Erika M. Anderson, formerly of electrofolk duo Gowns. Shadowed with a bleak edginess that has invited Courtney Love comparisons, Past Life Martyred Saints isn’t as sonically brash as anything Love has recorded. Rather, EMA’s songs are dusty transmissions from an alternate reality, illuminating the lives of those who’ve slipped through the cracks. Anderson’s bummed-out anthem probably ensures that she won’t be forgotten easily, but she should consider relocating from South Dakota—not great for visibility. Opening is Helado Negro, a group featuring a rotating crew of artists from experimental pop and electronic circles.
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