Music Reviews

Album Review: Dengue Fever – ‘Venus on Earth’

By Jeff Swindoll Feb 21, 2008, 21:28 GMT

Album Review: Dengue Fever – ‘Venus on Earth’

At last, Dengue Fever has made an album that quite nearly matches their incredible live performances. The group began at least as a tribute to the playful yet heavy psychedelic pop scene that flourished in Cambodia before Pol Pot came to power and silenced countless suspected dissidents in that country\'s infamous killing fields in the mid-1970s. Like the Cambodian pop music that so enamored them, Dengue Fever began by revitalizing ...more

You may thing of Boticelli’s Venus, you may think that’s the planet that they’re from, or you may look at the cover and wonder “Where’s that Rabbi driving that girl? [insert rimshot here].” 

Seriously, Dengue Fever is an easy band to catch although you may not think so at first.  It consists of Chhom Nimol (vocals), Ethan Holtzman (keyboards), Zac Holtzman (guitars, vocals), David Ralicke (horns), Paul Dreux Smith (drums) and Senon Gaius Williams (bass) with guest percussionist Gordon “Nappy G” Clay joining them on this album. 

The band was formed when the brothers Holtzman took a trip to Cambodia in and heard the diverse music that was playing on the radio there.  They sought to replicate it for American tastes and brought Nimol into the fold.  The band has an odd, beachy sound that you might hear if you were watching a movie about Vietnam. 

There’s also the fact that Nimol also sings several songs in Khmer (the language of Cambodia), in fact the first song in English is “Tiger Phone Card” (track three).  It’s my understanding that some of the tunes are covers of Cambodian rock tunes, but I wouldn’t know a hit Cambodian rock tune hit if you hit me on the head with one. 

However, the group has an almost hypnotic quality as I found myself greatly enjoying the album (even if I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics). 

If you’re looking for something different then you might as well catch this fever.  Juab khnia thngay kraoy (See you later in Khmer, unless Google has done me wrong). 

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