June 4th, 2012
We’ll be the first to admit – this one was a bit of a shocker. This record slid into the Philadelphia Weekly office with no artifice and no pomp. It was an album reviewed for On The Record like many others. Only it turned out to be one of the best records we’ve heard in ages. AGES. It is so damn good. Back in April of last year, so over a year ago, this record, Cannibal Courtship, came into the world. It’s a heady mix of Cambodian psychedelia and California surf rock with a truly charismatic frontwoman, Chhom Nimol, to wrap it all together. It’s pretty much a bunch of dudes from L.A. that got inspired by a trip to Cambodia who came back to L.A. and were inspired after they found Nimol singing in a karaoke club in Long Beach. And the rest is history.
Seriously, we beg you. It’s on Spotify. Buy it, download it, stream it. It is astounding from beginning to end. From the opening drowsy notes of the title track, which lull you into a Southeast Asian dreamscape, to the closing funk of “Durian Dowry,” there is not one bad song on this record. Perhaps one of the best is the quietly badass “Cement Slippers.” “My girlfriend loves everything at the beach ‘cept for the water, sand and the sun,” Zac Hotlzman sings, with an ennui that sound truly blasé. “My boyfriend loves everything at the bar ‘cept the music, the smoke and the booze,” sings Nimol. The lazy, affected tone is charming because it’s just a song and the rest of the record’s delivery isn’t nearly so bored. It’s about wasting time with boyfriends and girlfriends and reasoning out each other’s hangups.
“Family Business” is another killer track. With one of the best lead vocals on the album, heartily supported by backing vocals and a rush of a chorus: “And business is gooooood. Business is gooood.” There’s a cohesion to the album but the tracks all have a different vibe and feel to them, which is an impressive feat, and it’s all beautifully sold by the charm of their lead singer. Some feature a straight-up rock vocal but a handful of tracks allow Nimol to show off her background with meandering and traditional Cambodian verses. Like the fantastic “Only A Friend”; you’ll understand basically none of her singing, but then in comes the white boy vocals, singing “I’m overseas, flirtin’ with girls and catchin’ diseases.” It’s an album highlight.
Ever since this album consumed us and caught our attention, we’ve been thinking: “This would be an amazing show. But when are they gonna make it to Philly?” They’re much bigger in Cambodia than they are in Philly (or America for that matter). And it’s a safe assumption that it’ll be a challenge to get any readers to even push that play button down there, but it’s worth it. It’s funky, it’s international and also domestic, it’s got some groove-friendly breakdowns, sick instrumentation and variety of tone. We are not blowing smoke up your ass. This record is good and this show will be amazing. It’s tomorrow night and the tickets are only $15-17!