When Dengue Fever started out a decade ago, they researched a genre that had all but vanished: psychedelic, Beatles-inspired songs by Cambodian artists who were persecuted under the Khmer Rouge regime. They gradually began including their own songs, still sung in Khmer, and after their third disc, they started recording tunes in English while still keeping a firm footing in the style that made them known in US pop/alternative circles and abroad— including in the country that inspired them in the first place.
On their latest offering, “Cannibal Courtship” (Fantasy/Concord), they have more songs in English than ever before, and they’ve also started flirting with more jammy, Grateful Dead-influenced grooves. The band uses vocalist Chhom Nimol’s incredible range well, especially when it comes to more inventive tunes like the bluesy “Sister in the Radio” and the surf-rock-inflected “Kiss of the Bufo Alvarius,” where the guitar skills of co-leader Zac Holtzman also come to prominence.
Live, the band has great energy, charisma and chemistry. Nimol, who cut her teeth singing karaoke in Long Beach, California, commands your attention even if you can’t understand half of what’s going on in the first place. (Ernest Barteldes)
June 4 at The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, 10pm. $15.