Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The back-story of this band may be be known to many Elsewhere readers but here's a brief synposis: the Holtzman brothers Ethan and Zac from LA decided to form a band to play Cambodian pop-rock after Ethan returned from a trip to that country and had been inspired by the sounds on old cassettes he'd picked up. They hooked up with expat Cambodian Chhom Nimol who was singing in LA clubs (in Khmer) and initially they drew on covers of Cambo-rock.
Increasingly they have written their own music in the genre of broadly psychedelic-Cambo pop-rock which is driven by Farfisa organ and guitars, and has Nimol's exotically keening pop voice over the top.
They've picked up rave reviews, have been tipped as "the band to watch" by more than one US music paper, were the subject of a doco when they went to Phnom Penh where they performed alongside those whose music they had covered or were paying tribute to, and have started to appear on soundtracks.
It's an interesting and somewhat unexpected story - and while the music isn't exactly Jefferson Airplane-meets-Camborock (it is more poppy) it is certainly a bit different.
This, their third album, is distributed by Real World which tells you they've made the great leap forward - and that may also explain it's more pop-conscious elements, the increased number of English-language songs such as Tiger Phone Card (about long-distance love), and their tendency to mix up the music with hints of spaghetti western soundtracks, slightly seedy jazz sounds and much more (some of which was certainly on the airwaves in Cambodia in the late 60s).
There are some things here which simply don't work (Sober Driver, despite it's slinky sound) but at its best it is good fun and sometimes gets a little bent-MOR feel going too which has a quaint and chintzy quality.
They get great reviews for their live shows - and they are playing the Taranaki Womad in 2009.
Meantime do your homework right here.