Camper Van Beethoven – NEW ROMAN TIMES

Posted: January 18, 2006 in Reviews Archive

for file 23 Magazine

Since buying a CD at my local Borders eats up the better part of a twenty dollar bill, maybe you can imagine how much I hate it when I get a new disc home and it’s got one or two good tunes on it.

Or when one of my favorite bands that broke up a long time ago gets back together and tours and doesn’t do one new song (Ahem, Devo!)

I’m happy to report that the new Camper Van Beethoven disc falls into neither category.
The disc start with some very subtle percussion and some backward-sounding stuff and then goes into one of their typical jams that dares you to categorize it.

I don’t remember when exactly I got hip to CVB, (’85 or ’86) but this CD is everything I used to love about them Back In The Day. It’s part rock, but I hear influences that range from Buffalo Springfield or Neil Young to tunes that make me feel as if I’ve gotten lost in the wilds and stumbled upon some weird Celtic folk festival or some Amish barn dance.

This is music where listening is a challenge, and patience has it’s rewards for the listener.

I’ve played this over and over for the last two weeks, and have yet to get tired of it.

This is their first new recording since the 1989 Key Lime Pie CD (!) and while there are no memorable covers like Pictures Of Matchstick Men or Interstellar Overdrive, you won’t miss them.

Unlike a lot of acts that re-unite and put out entire CD’s of pure filler, the new tunes on this are wonderful.

That Gum You Like Is Back In Style is the best tune Buffalo Springfield never did as well as the title track.

The Hey Turn It Up tracks are #12, The Long Plastic Hallway, which I bet works great live. Tracks 14-17 are the kind I can listen to over and over as well; Come Out is hypnotic. Los Tigres Trafficantes takes found audio sources (in this case, a mobile taco vendor reading his menu) and layers a song over it.

I Hate This Part Of Texas would be a permanent part of my play list if I was a radio DJ.

I bet my neighbors are getting tired of it; ha ha!

It’s a collage of both forward and backwards musical sounds layered over Spanish and English versions of the title chanted over and over that you’ll either find mesmerizing or send you over the edge, just like Come Out (#14) Hippy Chix should be the national anthem for all of us middle-aged guys everywhere.

I’d die for some Hippy Chix, too!

The next three tracks are wind-down numbers (Settle down, y’all!) and move a little slower to close the disc.

Civil Disobedience has food-for-thought lyrics. Discotheque CVB is a slightly out-of-place instrumental, but it belongs in a really cool movie made by some really cool director.

Hey Brother is pure CVB, and probably the best choice for a closing track out of the lot.
You still here? Go buy this disc!

Aug ’04


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