Copyright ©2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now, from an authentic recreation of the 1970s to '60s style Cambodian pop music. That unlikely combo comes from the L.A. band, Dengue Fever. The band consists of five American rock musicians with a young Cambodian singer. Their third album is called "Venus on Earth."

Banning Eyre has a review.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. BANNING EYRE (Senior Editor, afropop.org): Some of today's best world music acts spring from the discovery of an obscure passion. For brothers, Zac and Ethan Holtzman, it was 1960's Cambodian pop music. At once delicate and brash, Khmer pop songs had something special - carefree innocence haunted by a sense of a lingering menace.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. CHHOM NIMOL (Singer, Dengue Fever): (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. EYRE: Living in L.A. with its large Cambodian community, the Holtzmans and their cohorts were able to recruit an exceptionally talented lead singer, Chhom Nimol. And in 2001, Dengue Fever was born. The group started out covering songs that had inspired them that the tracks on "Venus on Earth" are all original compositions. They veer between Khmer pop, film noir soundtracks, surf rock and folky hit parade fair right out of the late '60s.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ZAC HOLTZMAN (Singer, Dengue Fever): (Singing) You live in Phnom Penh.

Ms. NIMOL: (Singing) You live in New York City.

Mr. HOLTZMAN and Ms. NIMOL: (Singing) But I think about you so, so, so, so much I forget to eat.

Mr. HOLTZMAN: (Singing) It's 4:00 a.m. I check my e-mail.

Mr. EYRE: "Venus on Earth" finds Chhom Nimol singing more songs in English, in this case, in duo with Zac Holtzman. But for my money, Dengue Fever really hits stride when they rock out and let Nimol lay into quirky, melodramatic Khmer melodies.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. NIMOL: (Singing in Foreign Language)

Mr. EYRE: "Venus on Earth" is more spare and maybe a little less wild than Dengue Fever's 2007 breakout release, "Escape from Dragon House." There's room this time around for teenage angst and even introspective balladry.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. NIMOL: (Singing) (Unintelligible) you're everything I can. You somehow and (unintelligible) again…

Mr. EYRE: There is a thread that runs through the '60s pop that inspire those old Khmer rockers and continues right on and Dengue Fever's eclectic work. The songs are simple, the hooks strong and the arrangements clever and fun. And that's the stuff that makes us fall in love with pop songs regardless of genre, era or language.

NORRIS: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. The album is "Venus on Earth" by Dengue Fever. You can hear full tracks from the album and listen to interviews with the band at our music Web site, npr.org/music.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.