Zac Holtzman, guitar/vocals
Ethan Holtzman, farfisa organ
Senon Williams, bass guitars
Paul Smith, percussion
David Ralicke, horns
Based in Los Angeles and spending the last two years touring the globe, Dengue Fever has finally released their much eagerly awaited third album, “Venus On Earth” which embraces traditional Cambodian culture but still manages to mix in a western, psychedelic feel."Dengue Fever fuses eastern Cambodian pop with Western retro-60’s lounge music."
Their roots started way back in 1997 when Ethan Holtzman took a trip to Cambodia where he was exposed to Cambodian pop music of the 60’s. Upon returning home, he reconnected with his brother Zac who had also been listening to compilations of Cambodian pop. When the decision was made to start a band, they both went to the Cambodian community in Long Beach to find a singer. Enter Cambodian-born Chhom Nimol, who in the Cambodian tradition, uses Nimol as her “first” name, was already a pop-superstar in her home country. She moved to Long Beach and sang traditional music at The Dragon House where, eventually, the Holtzman brothers first saw her. They were an immediate hit when they first started playing clubs in Long Beach and L.A and have since been creating buzz on the indie circuit.
Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2003, Dengue Fever has garnered accolades all over the world. Their sophomore effort, 2005’s “Escape From Dragon House” was named Amazon’s #1 International release of the year and MOJO named the same album into their Top 10 World Music releases of the year and they were named LA Weekly’s Best New Artist in 2002.
In Venus On Earth, their third outing, you can immediately hear Dengue Fever’s East Asian sound. Chhom sings mostly in her native Khmer but don’t let that scare you away. Dengue Fever fuses eastern Cambodian pop with Western retro-60’s lounge music.
One of the few English tracks on the album, “Sober Driver” is a sexy, cool, film noir-ish song, keeping its eastern influence but manages to blend in some western flavor with its jazzy sax. And from the surf-rock inspired songs like “Oceans of Venus,” “Laugh Track,” and “Mr. Orange,” to the sugary ballads of “Monsoon of Perfume” and “Clipped Wings,” Venus On Earth’s eclectic melodies are simple and ridiculously contagious. Chhom’s voice is honey sweet dripping off of smooth porcelain. When she switches off from her native Khmer to English, she doesn’t miss a beat. And without accompanying lyrics from the cd, most of the time it’s nearly impossible to understand what Chhom is singing about. Although I couldn’t understand her, her soulful vocals resonate emotion that is universal to everyone.
It's easy to expect, with the clash of musical genres, that their songs would lack identity but Dengue Fever manages to do the complete opposite, successfully fusing both Cambodian pop and American rock. This time around, on their third album, Venus On Earth, Dengue Fever has paid careful attention to their craft of songwriting. And by doing so, not only have they made a giant leap forward but Dengue Fever are on their way to closing the musical gap between East and West.
WHEN & WHERE
January 31st - Dengue Fever’s Record Release Party at the Echoplex.
TOUR INFORMATION AND ALBUM INFORMATION: