By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Very few bands have the convoluted but fascinating history of Los Angeles' Dengue Fever. Inspired by a trip to Cambodia, brothers Ethan and Zac Holtzman went about forming a band that would pay tribute to that country's pop music from the 1960s. Somehow, the brothers even stumbled across Chhom Nimol, a native Cambodian who was already a well-known karaoke singer in her home country, and got her involved. And, armed with a singer who could sing in Khmer, Dengue Fever was born.
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Covering '60s psychedelic pop nuggets from Cambodia was one thing, but the Holtzmans' agenda was more adventurous, as the brothers began writing songs and translating them into Khmer. The results on Dengue Fever's four full-lengths, including the recently released Cannibal Courtship, have been impressive—enough, even, to take a band that could have easily been written off as mere novelty into some legitimate musical territory. Cannibal shows the fruits of the brothers' efforts; while it may be the most conventional album Dengue Fever has released to date, it also finds the band at its most confident. Songs such as "Uku" and "Sister in the Radio" come across like an Asian B-52's, only with far more intelligence at work.
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