The Music of True Blood, Episode 1.4: Catching Dengue Fever at the Dragon House, and Warehouse Live

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood - which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston. With Season 2 just completed, Rocks Off is now working our way backwards through the episodes we missed as HBO begins reruns.

Episode 1.4, "Escape From the Dragon House"

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The song in the end credits this week is Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell," but Rocks Off is just not going to talk about it. We like Skynyrd - who plays Galveston's Moody Gardens Amphitheater Halloween night with Leon Russell and the Edgar Winter Band, by the way - just fine, but refuse to believe that anyone is so in need of information on them that they are reading a column about music in a show about vampires. Sorry.

So we'll tackle the title track, "Escape From the Dragon House" by the Los Angeles band Dengue Fever.

Rocks Off's knowledge of Cambodia is limited to Jello Biafra's assertion that there is some kind of holiday there. Also, we went to elementary school with a Cambodian kid named Chad, and really hope one day to meet someone from Chad named Cambodia just to balance it out. Apparently, there is quite a pop scene in that country, and when you fuse said pop with psychedelic surf-rock, you get Dengue Fever. You can also get it from mosquitoes, though we may have mixed up our Wikipedia entries when compiling our notes for this article.

Dengue Fever was formed by brothers Ethan and Zac Holtzman, who found their singer Chhom Nimol in karaoke bar in the Little Phnom Penh district of Long Beach. Most of the lyrics were sung in Khmer until Venus on Earth in 2006, where they began to include some English-language tunes. Venus on Earth was also selected as one of iTunes' best world-music albums of the year, and was lauded by Peter Gabriel. Currently, the band is promoting a documentary about them called Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, which details Nimol's homecoming in Cambodia, and the adventures and transformations the band experiences on the way.

"Escape From the Dragon House" plays in the car as Sookie and Bill return from Sookie's first experience with the vampire bar Fangtasia. She had gone there to use her psychic pokemon powers to listen to patrons' thoughts in hopes of gaining some info on a friend's murder.

Instead, she ended up warning the owner, and vampire sheriff, Eric of an impending raid on the bar, drawing his attention to her. This, as all the fans know has all kinds of quirky consequences. And how does the song comment on what just happened? How exactly does it ironically enlighten us with its subtle tones and poetic lyrics? We have no idea.

We don't speak Khmer, and have been thoroughly unsuccessful in tracking down an English translation. For all we know the song, is about carnivorous doughnuts. It's catchy in a "Light My Fire" meets "Leader of the Pack" kind of a way, though, and well worth the price.

True Blood airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Dengue Fever performs their original score to 1925 silent film The Lost World at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 14, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483 or www.warehouselive.com. $20. See www.cinemartsociety.org for more information.

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