Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dengue Fever "Venus On Earth"

So yeah, as previously noted, Dengue Fever are the band mysteriously thrown together by these American fellows who developed an interest in the exciting pop music that existed in Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge took over and decided to kill everyone. They found some beautiful Cambodian American woman to front their band, and so a winning formula was born. It is striking, though, how fresh Dengue Fever sound, and how unlike some lamer covers band. A lot of this, of course, comes down to their decision to write their own tunes, ones which nod stylistically to the Khmer Pop sounds of yore while still being new and exciting and oddly surf influenced. That the DF singer has an amazing voice is of course no hindrance.

On this record, some of the tracks are sung in Khmer, but some are also sung in English, for maximum whitey appeal. Two of these are duets between the woman and the main American fellow, on which he reveals a weak yet surprisingly affecting voice. These tunes play to ideas of trans-Pacific relationships (with their slight undercurrent of exploitation mixed in with all the gooey wuv*) and are, for me, the highlights of the album. My particular favourite is 'Tiger Phone Card', with the song being a duet between two lovers singing down the phone from opposite ends of the world. It got a lot of play in Panda Mansions while Irene was off in Ethiopia.

I also like the tune that knocks off 'Hotel California', and indeed all the other songs. I gather they played at the recent Electric Picnic festival. I wonder how they went down with the young people; well enough, presumably, as they are coming back to play in the Sugar Club in November. I already have my reasonably priced ticket, maybe see you there?


* Or maybe I have been reading too much of Barbara Ehrenreich's Global Women, current contender for being the World's Most Depressing Book.

8 comments:

Justin Mason said...

see you there! Apparently they went down quite well, judging by the couple of mates who saw 'em. however, they were consigned to the dreaded World Music stage, so doubtless very few other attendees saw them too.

dublin said...

reasonably priced, only 13€50!!!

jennifer said...

That Barbara Ehrenreich book sounds like something I'd be interested in but I need to lay off the depressing books for a wee while. I'll put it on my 'to read' list to be reassessed for consumption at a future date.

Justin Mason said...

talking of depressing books AND Cambodia: there's a great book called "Down and Out in Phnom Penh" which details the farang scene in Phnom Penh during the early 1990s, when Cambodia was still largely lawless and ruled by warlords. apparently the western-tourist scene in those days revolved entirely around drugs, prostitution -- and child prostitution in particular. it's pretty unpleasant stuff...

Justin Mason said...

oops. it's not "Down and Out In Phnom Penh" -- it's "Off The Rails in Phnom Penh". stupid brain!

ian said...

mmm, another must read.

ian said...

Mmm, that book sounds a bit unsavoury, like he is revelling in it all. Nice choice of books Amazon thinks you may also like too.

Justin Mason said...

holy moly. some of those "also" books are tres creepy.