Your face was so so so so bright I had to close my eyes to see

Not really breaking new ground here, as such, but I came across these tracks this morning when I was trawling through Promonet. And they’re not really like anything else I’ve heard before (always a good sign).

This is definitely my New Favourite Band…

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is an acute febrile disease found in the tropics and transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito (obviously), but is also the name of a rather rousing six piece from Los Angeles. Led initially by Ethan and Zac Holtzman, they combine a love of garage/Psychedelia with Cambodian pop from the Sixties, that they heard on a trip there. (Bear with me, here.) Zac sings and Ethan plays one of my absolute favourite sounds in music – the Farfisa Organ (we’re back to Question mark, here…).

What really brings it together and allows them to carry it all off is the recruitment of Chhom Nimol, a Cambodian émigré to LA, who had sung in front of the Cambodian royal family before leaving her home. Her voice is quite beautiful, a little fluttery thing that bounces precariously above the denser, heavier backing of the band, and of course gives the whole Cambodian sound a certain authenticity. Have a look at this…

A lot of their songs are performed in Khmer and are covers of Cambodian “classics”. For their first two albums, the Holtzmans actually had their original songs translated into Khmer!

For their latest album, however, some of the songs are written and performed in English, but still manage to preserve a certain sixties naïveté which is quite charming. This album, Venus on Earth, was released in January of this year and for me is an absolute must release. It’s readily available on Emusic – you have no excuses!

Tiger Phone Card (mp3)

Sober Driver (mp3)

More On This Album

Don’t Carry the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders

We’ve had some sunshine these last few days and it tends to remind you that, sometimes, there really is a summer out there – as opposed to the soggy mess that passed for summer last year.

One of my abiding memories of last year (apart from the site of bowsers being delivered to the bottom of my street) was that of struggling through deep river beds of thick mud at Green Man, and explaining to my son, who was at his first festival, that we’d just been a bit unlucky, and that if he could just imagine how the whole site could have been in glorious sunshine then maybe he’d feel a bit better about the whole experience.

Anyway, I’m still um-ing and ah-ing about Green Man this year. Officially, I’ve decided I won’t be going, but it only took a casual mention from said son to leave me all turned round about it again. I dunno…

I was reminded, though, of one set I caught at last year’s festival, which never quite made it onto these distinguished pages, even though I did record it. I remember standing at the Green Man café, grimly holding onto a cider, waiting for the various water/electric problems to be sorted out, feeling, well, not a little pissed off with the weather. And then this lot came on, and, well, if the sun didn’t actually start shining, let’s just say it felt a little brighter.


Threatmantics are from Cardiff and, perhaps not surprisingly given that they are a Green Man act, do a fair amount of singing in Welsh. With an idiosyncratic line up of drums, lead guitar and violin, they were a lot of fun, alternately wistful and then blunt. It was a really good set that cheered me up no end.

At the time, they didn’t seem to have much of a web presence, and so I didn’t post about them at all, but now there are a couple of tracks available from their Myspace page which are worth hearing, and there’s an album and new single in the offing.

They’re also playing at this year’s Green Man…

Don’t Carry

Sum Sum

There’s also this video of Threatmantics live which looks a lot like their actual Green Man set, but isn’t…

Bit miserable around here…

Stoke up the mp3 and pretend it never happened.

Lucky Seven 7

Clash City Rockers – The Clash
Westbound Train – Dennis Brown
Eros’ Entropic Tundra – Of Montreal
I See You all the Time in Airports – The Handsome Family
Karma Hunter – The Pinker Tones
Louie Louie – Toots & the Maytals
Take the Cash – Wreckless Eric

(The Toots track is outstanding.)

Daughter, dear daughter, what troubles you?

I’m not really a country-type – I enjoy walks in the countryside as much as the next man – but to be honest I quite like living in a (smallish) city. I like shops and pubs, streets and people, and the fairly modest hustle and bustle that a city such as mine generates. But still, every now and again I do get a yen for, you know, nature and stuff. Greenery, rain drops, apple blossom and the like…

It’s a rather damp, mild Sunday morning, and these are probably the sort of thoughts middle aged gentlemen with nothing better do are more and more prone to. If I was the car-washing sort, I’d probably be out there right now, whistling to myself and greeting passers-by as long lost friends…

It’s Bank Holiday weekend, and I’ve found some rather gentle, pastoral, music to accompany you through your extended break.

Half Asleep

Half Asleep seems to be mainly the work of Belgian singer Valerie Leclerq, from just outside Brussels, if my school boy French is still reliable. She has a beautiful voice and a knack of arranging her simple songs to great effect, with the help of vocals from her sister, Oriane. There are some really stunning pieces available from the pair available as downloads from their label, Another Record, plus a few more from their own site.

I guess, when you hear the words “French” followed quickly by “sisters”, you might be tempted to think CocoRosie, which will certainly put off a few, but I wouldn’t, if I were you. I’m quite partial to small doses of Cocorosie’s resolute quirkiness but Half Asleep are really nothing like this – they are much purer, much less irritating, concentrating mainly on uncomplicated, guitar and piano arrangements with minimal percussion.

Half Asleep have three albums available, one of which, We Are Now Seated in Profile, is available from Emusic, and as I say a good few downloads to hunt down. I’ve posted my two favourite ones I’ve found so far.

Happy Mayday.

The Butcher’s Boy

Sea Shells

Really worth a listen.