In Rotation: Dengue Fever’s ‘Cannibal Courtship’

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

It’s a strange terrain that Dengue Fever wanders, drawing as it does both from classic Southern California surf music, and, more important, the sounds of those same pre-Beatles beach tones as filtered through Cambodian pop music of the 1960s and ‘70s. If that seems a ridiculous non sequitur on paper, coming out of the speakers, the L.A. band’s music makes perfect sense. On this, their third studio album, Dengue Fever has refined its sound to the extent that the six-piece is no longer a vehicle for a curious cultural collision, but for a fluent conversation that sounds positively Esperantan. Chhom Nimol, a Cambodian by birth, has become an exquisitely expressive singer; her high-lonesome wail on songs like “Sister In the Radio” conveys a sadness that transcends language (she sings it in Cambodian). And brothers Ethan and Zac Holtzman craft guitar lines, keyboard clusters and arrangements that consistently meander down mysterious pathways.

-- Randall Roberts

Dengue Fever
“Cannibal Courtship”
(Fantasy Records)