Dengue Fever
Venus On Earth
M80 Music

With one listen, its no wonder this L.A. based six member band is fast becoming popular. This is their sophomore effort, but screams like its the 10th by leaps and bounds.

Brothers Adam (vocals, guitar) and Zac (Farfisa organ) Holtzman, share a penchant for cambodian pop music and assembled their band accordingly. Finding a female lead singer named Chhom Nimol who could sing in Khmer proved to be a great find since she sounds so authentic and well…poppy. Rounding out the band include bass, drum and brass.

Aside from their asian, indie and psychedelic description, each listen brings more and arrangements and modes to the fore. The opening chords are more of a discordal foray of separate instruments. “Seeing Hands” is a striking piece. Its got an experimental combination of seagul-like saxiphone and spacial keyboard fluxes, carried under a haunting flank of electric guitar with just the right amount of reverberation to give a light surf-vibe. Listen for the tripped out keyboards, sax punches and surf-laden reverberate guitar chords…in all the right places…screams that these people are TALENTED.

“Clipped Wings” haunts the listener while inducing an amiable sense for watching a James Bond film where the scene calls in the beautiful foreign chick who then seduces agent 007. Cooling surf guitar lines blend hypnotically with smokey saxiphone musings. At last,with its 60’s induced sound, the culmination of retro becomes fully realized here, and confirming that it was always good. Chhom’s voice is distant, while hauntingly familiar… minimalism can speak volumes, thus David Ralickes’ sax work keeps the mood flustering about like a hungry ghost throughout the entire CD.

Zak has a vocal style that can at once be interpreted as slickly intelligent, and comedically contrived. his delivery is smooth and unadulterated, while his lyrical content is uttered in a matter-of-fact inflection as if he’s saying alot. “its four a.m. I check my email,” “I think about you so so so much I forget to eat.”, “I’m 40,000 ft. high, flying thru the dead of night, so I took an ambien.” He’s really just smattering on about trivialities in a usual day, but there’s this urgency, as if some reticent admission of Jason Bourne checking off his hit list for the day, called up readily by the well placed staccatto of surfy guitar. The madness of its simplicity is the absolute key to its expression of the genre.

“Tiger Phone Card” has a doorsian sound. It has a completely classic feel to it. The vocal delivery has Jim Morrison all over it, albeit with a Will Farrell insincerety to it.

Its important to mention an apparent genius these musicians generate by combining sincere whilst affable songwriting skills and command of their instruments.

I have forever coveted my Sergio Mendez and Ray Conniff records since growing up because my parents had stacks of them. They were uncool then, because really, it was the non- rock and roll soft set easy- listening mom and dad crowd who played spun them. This was the stuff to put on at a 70’s cocktail party because you really had no particular taste in music. But there is a certain atmospheric charm that drizzles from the seeming schlock of that era, adding really smokin’ guitar lead work.

© 2011 Buko Magazine

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