Cannibal Courtship - Dengue Fever

Concord Records

A picture is worth a million downloads; easy, if it’s intriguing enough. Behold the Mastadong! Dengue Fever guitarist Zac Holtzman explains the band held a contest for their fans to name the twin-necked behemoth. Mastadong was the winning moniker because it alludes to the dual nature of the instrument; the Fender Jazzmaster six-string and its Siamese twin, the Chapei Dong Veng, a traditional Cambodian long neck guitar. Modeling the monstrosity on the cover of the band’s 4th long play studio album is gorgeous, exotic Dengue Fever singer, Chhom Nimol and voila! Who wouldn’t be curious to hear what audio delights lurk within? For a group that paints so far outside of the lines, they have a keen sense of how to market themselves visually. And, the tracks inside pay off big time. Listening to Dengue Fever coalesce over the past few discs has been like witnessing the growth of a tropical hybrid plant. You just never know how the mystery will unfold until spring, when it comes into full bloom with something that’s never bloomed before. The Khmer pop and LA psycho-surf fusion has since healed over the grafts, erupting in a unified, incredibly distinctive and fun sound. Past experiments with English-language duets hit pay dirt on Cannibal Courtship’s blazing highlight, Cement Slippers. Over a retro-barrage of farfisa, surfabilly twang and growling sax, Chhom and Zac trade killer ironies like, “My girlfriend loves everything at the beach except the water, the sand and the sun … My boyfriend loves everything about me, except the endless hours of therapy.” Dengue Fever’s exoticism is all pervasive; from the ungainly Mastadong to the comely Chhom Nimol to the title itself. CD buyers will appreciate the little green praying mantis posing on the back cover atop the gold flake body of the Mastadong. This little critter is notorious for biting the head off its mate following a bout of Cannibal Courtship. The whole album is balance and symmetry locked in a dangerous but inescapable dance.