Anyone who knows me or has followed my work knows of my love for Camper Van Beethoven. This seminal band and its love of genre-crossing (and resultant uniqueness) is a huge part of my psyche, both as an artist and as a human being, sharing space with others like Jack Kerouac, R.E.M., Mark Twain, David Lynch, Danny Elfman, William S. Burroughs, Terry Gilliam…the list could go on.
Happily, CVB has just put out a new album, La Costa Perdida. Is it too predictable to say I recommend it? Sure. But I do anyway. While I know I would be predisposed to like it no matter what, the album strikes me as more accessible, so I mean it when I say to check it out. And “more accessible” does *not* translate to “boring” or “watered down,” by the way. So much of what makes CVB unique is still here, but maybe just a tad more beautiful and winsome. More along the lines of the band’s Key Lime Pie, rather than, say, II & III.
I of course was streaming the album on the Spin website before its release (you can do that too, right here: CVB’s La Costa Perdida.) Then I went to the band’s show at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA (awesome!). Then I walked over to Newbury Comics and bought the CD. Now I am listening to it quite a bit, and of course revisiting the back catalog, which, if you include all the fan-oriented releases and re-releases the band puts out, is actually quite extensive. In short, I am in full-on CVB Love Mode.
Are you a fan too? If so, you already have this stuff. Are you a lapsed fan? Then get caught up with this great band. Are you not yet acquainted with CVB? Get on it! There’s really no excuse. When I described them as “seminal,” that was no exaggeration. Like R.E.M. and Pixies, there would have been no real alt rock movement without CVB. These are the bands people like Kurt Cobain were listening to or watching on 120 Minutes before their own bands broke big. If your alt rock knowledge and experience only goes as far back as 1991, start reverse engineering so you make it back a few more years to hear The Replacements, Robyn Hitchcock, Meat Puppets, The Feelies, etc. It will be worth your while. You know who else agrees with me? Paul Rudd, that’s who. Even the notoriously cranky Pitchfork has chimed in on CVB’s right to more attention: “Camper Van Beethoven’s college rock reign won the band much acclaim, and their original, impeccable, endlessly inventive run of 1985’s Telephone Free Landslide Victory through its 1989 swan song Key Lime Pie has withstood the test of time. Yet despite all this, CVB remains somewhat unsung and overlooked.” (Review of Popular Songs of Great Enduring Strength and Beauty).
Part of my CVB reverie includes obsessively reading all the reviews and articles that have been published in the last few weeks as the album and tour began revving up. Of all of them, the following article and interview with David Lowery is clearly the best thus far, so why not begin here? Ghost of the Lost Coast.
Think of this post as an invitation to the CVB Love-In. As Delmar says in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: “Come on in, boys, the water’s fine.”