I first discovered Dengue Fever on an excellent CD compilation of world music, The Rough Guide to Planet Rock, and I quickly fell in love with their song “We Were Gonna.” In my mind, this was the music that should have been playing in the Jabba the Hutt’s palace scene in Return of the Jedi, not Sy Snootles and Max Rebo (but I reveal my nerd roots).
Now, had I been paying more attention, I might have noticed this band from the use of their songs in films like Matt Dillon’s City of Ghosts and Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers, or the television series Weeds and True Blood. Obviously, I’m not the only one who saw cinematic potential in their ethereal blend of rock and Cambodian pop.
Chhom Nimal’s voice must be heard to be believed. Seriously. And brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman continue to provide a reliable, raucous framework of guitar and farfisa organ that dances between groove and snappy beats.
Their latest album, Cannibal Courtship, finds the band taking on a decidedly surf rock turn, with shimmering electric guitar, a saxophone solo, and lyrics in English instead of Khmer. It took me by surprise, I admit, and I had to check and verify that this was still the same band. But the more I listen to the song “Cement Slippers”, the more I find it growing on me. It’s not a misstep at all—on the contrary, these guys remain a couple steps ahead of me. And that voice (and that killer farfisa) are still there. I am pulled in, and quickly submerged.
Check out: “Cement Slippers”
Check out: “Sni Bong”
Check out: “We Were Gonna” [Youtube still video]
Download: “Cement Slippers” [MP3, Free w/ e-mail]