The music of Los Angeles’ Dengue Fever sounds like the soundtrack to an unmade James Bond film set in Cambodia.
Guitarist Zac Holtzman tells EW his group is inspired by the rich and complex horn arrangements of Ethiopian jazz, as well as plain old American surf rock.
Initially, however, Holtzman says he and bandmate and brother Ethan Holtzman came together over a shared love of Cambodia’s much-anthologized ’60s garage-rock era.
Cambodian-born Dengue Fever vocalist Chhom Nimol sings in her native tongue, Khmer, and the band’s sound is infused with a kitschy and exotic, swinging-sixties sense of fun — a little like a Southeast-Asian equivalent to the B-52s.
Zac Holtzman finds the B-52s comparison apt. “Our vocals aren’t quite as out there,” he jokes, but adds he can hear similarities between his guitar work and that of the B-52s.
Dengue Fever is touring in support of 2015’s The Deepest Lake. Right away it’s clear the record does little to expand on the Dengue Fever formula of past albums. But with slinky rhythms, lush guitar chords laden with tremolo and intriguing Farfisa organ, why tinker with what’s not broken?
The track “No Sudden Moves” shows the influence of Ethiopian jazz in its hard-grooving bari-sax bassline. “Rom Say Sok” is a straight-ahead rocker. “Ghost Voice” kicks-off with the funky cowbell of The Chambers Brothers’ classic “Time Has Come Today.” And “Vacant Lot” features jazz flute and a cinematic, super-spy atmosphere.
Dengue Fever plays with Eugene’s Pluto the Planet and Human Ottoman 9 pm Saturday, Feb. 7, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $14 door. All ages.