PopMatters has a couple of my pieces up today, the first a review of a really excellent show about a month ago that featured the Cambodian pop/rock/funk of Dengue Fever and the groovy Peruvian chicha of Chicha Libre.
Dengue Fever + Chicha Libre
8 July 2008: The Iron Horse — Northampton, MA
On this sweaty, hazy night, two bands with mostly gringo players but decidedly non-Western influences viewed 1960s psych, funk, and soul through different perspectives. Chicha Libre filtered all-world pop through the Peruvian barrio genre mash known as “chicha,” while Dengue Fever cranked a sweltering blend of R&B, surf, and Cambodian pop.
More you say? Try here.
Here’s an NPR segment on Chicha Libre, too.
And a free mp3 of Dengue Fever’s “Sober Driver”
Also PM has my review of Boy Omega’s latest indie pop album.
Hope on the Horizon
US release date: 19 February 2008
UK release date: 19 February 2008
Germany release date: 14 September 2007
by Jennifer Kelly
Expansive orchestral pop
Martin Gustafsson, AKA Boy Omega, has been making delicate, emotionally vulnerable yet catchy music for about five years now in his native Sweden. If you haven’t heard of him—and most people haven’t—it’s likely because of distribution problems. The record in question, his fourth, has been out on a hodgepodge of European labels since late last year and slipped into the US, ninja-style, only this spring on Spanish Acuarela in partnership with underground pop label Darla. He is making a very modest splash here, while similarly orchestrated pop outfits backed by larger entities—Loney, Dear, We’re from Barcelona, Architecture in Helsinki, et. all—gather the headlines. If a 12-person ensemble pop song falls in the forest and no one hears it...well, you get the idea.
Actually, the liner notes credit 14 musicians, including Gustafsson, and perhaps twice as many instruments (Gustafsson himself plays 16 of them, not counting vocals). Per-Ola Eriksson, who appeared on The Black Tango two years ago, kicks in three different varieties of keyboards, plus electric guitar. People are pulled in indiscriminately for bit parts on violin, cello, trumpet, saxophone, and tuba. You could probably put together a reasonable version of the 1812 Overture just with the individuals listed on the inside sleeve. This is definitely not just a guy with a guitar and a stool.
And a video of the first single, “Suffocation Street”