One of the most influential bands to emerge from the late 80’s and early 90’s has to be California’s Camper Van Beethoven (CVB). While herded into the “alternative rock” genre CVB truly deserves a category all their own. Rock, folk, punk, ska and many other flavors of music show up in their songs which are distinguished by David Lowery’s one of a kind vocals, Victor Krummenacher’s smooth bass playing and Jonathan Segel’s infusion of violin. With a career that has been on again off again they have returned with a new record, La Costa Perdida, a laid back piece of work that oozes California.
CVB draws the listener into the album right from the start with “Come Down The Coast”. Mellow guitars, a smattering of keyboards and mandolin fill this catchy tune. I dare you to not sing-a-long with Lowery as he rolls through the names of various senoritas. It represents a mellower more relaxed side which is present throughout the album with tracks like “Northern California Girls” and “A Love For All Time”, but does not define it. Capturing the classic CVB sound, “Peaches In The Summertime” is short and fast as it threatens to explode into chaos. On “You Got To Roll” thumping rhythms lead way to an all out guitar assault as they employ bluesy undertones to keep listeners on their toes. The finest track on the record has to be “Too High For The Love In”. Pop melodies and sweet vocal harmonies kick things off before it deteriorates into a beautiful mess of words and music. Lyrically it makes no sense as Lowery warbles on about a large awesome bird in his kitchen then ends with a rant about wanting anti-venom and a sandwich. Musically it is a roller coaster ride through the sonic peaks and valleys created by the plethora of instruments and tools these guys have at their disposal.
When the last track comes to a close the first instinct will be to immediately listen to La Costa Perdida again. I suggest you follow that instinct because the more you listen the better it gets. With each spin choice musical nuggets uncover themselves exposing the listener to a new experience. It is a fitting piece to their musical catalog and just adds to their legendary status as one of the most original bands out there.
In addition to the new album, CVB is out on tour bringing their travelling road show to a town near you. This weekend they pull into Atlanta to deliver the new stuff and classic tunes for all those who will be packed into the EARL on Saturday night. This intimate environment is the perfect setting to experience the genius that is Camper Van Beethoven.
Be sure to get there early because local favorites The District Attorneys will get the crowd ready with their fuzzy psychedelic rock tunes. With one of the best albums of 2012, Slowburner, to put it bluntly these dudes kick ass. Their live shows are some of the best around and being paired with CVB may make for one of the best shows of the year.
There you go, plans for this Saturday in your pocket. Two killer bands, a night of great tunes at one of the best venues in Atlanta, what more could you ask for. This is a can’t miss show. As always, if you see me there, say hi.