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Venus on Earth (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Three albums in the novelty has worn off, but Dengue Fever has smartly chosen to keep evolving. While that means their unquestionably unique offering no longer startles, it's no less riveting — Venus on Earth is at once the band's most accessible and most varied release. A recap: when first heard from in 2003 on their self-titled debut, Dengue Fever was like no other band, a bunch of L.A. hipsters fronted by a Cambodian-born woman, Chhom Nimol, who paid homage to that Asian nation's pre-Pol Pot cheesy psychedelic-cum-lounge-surf-garage pop sound of the '60s/early '70s, music obscure enough that only a tiny handful of Americans could honestly claim to have known the first thing about it — certainly, the source material spun outside of the orbit of the so-called core world music audience. By the second album, 2005's Escape from Dragon House, Dengue Fever had tossed in a few more disparate elements, and with Nimol's high-range vocals riding atop this internationalist admixture and a basic alt-rock sensibility as a guiding force (minus the faux alt-rock attitude), Dengue Fever attracted an audience and garnered critical praise. For Venus on Earth, the mainstream beckons, or comes as close to beckoning as it's ever going to for a band as non-mainstream as Dengue Fever. Nimol's vocals are as beguiling as ever, Ethan Holtzman's Farfisa organ still swirls, Zac Holtzman's guitars still chime and chunk, and Paul Dreux Smith's drums clang happily along. With horns provided by David Ralicke and bass from Senon Gaius Williams, Dengue Fever has softened some of the rougher edges, injected some serious soul, and added more swing to their thing. "Oceans of Venus" could be an outtake from the first B-52's album, "Clipped Wings" a lost Blondie tune, and "Woman in the Shoes" is just one of the most cuddly pop songs in ages. The groovelicious Nimol-Zac Holtzman duet "Tiger Phone Card," a tale of a long distance Phnom Penh-NYC romance, is the pop smash Yoko Ono might have had in an alternate universe. Drenched in reverb, soaked in sweat, marinated in some phantom historical moment yet tethered to the now, Dengue Fever is more innovative and resourceful than 99-percent of the bands that receive 99 times the publicity.

Customer Reviews

Time Traveler

This is an odd yet satisfying record that will worm it's way into your brain. I've been listening to it off and on for some time now. Nov 11. 2013 release date…. I don't think so.




Formed: 2001 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Even when you consider the cultural cross-pollination that goes on in large metropolitan areas, L.A.'s Dengue Fever had perhaps the strangest genesis of any band in recent memory. It's odd enough for a group of white musicians to cover psychedelic rock oldies from Cambodia, but finding a bona fide Cambodian pop star to front the band -- and sing in Khmer, no less -- is the kind of providence that could only touch a select few places on Earth. Formed in L.A.'s hipster-friendly Silver Lake area in...
Full Bio
Venus on Earth (Deluxe Edition), Dengue Fever
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Customer Ratings