Considering that they splintered into pieces decades ago*, I wasn't expecting much from the new Camper Van Beethoven single, the second to herald the release of their eighth album, except that it's pretty great—and I say that as someone who couldn't stand Cracker, the alternative-rock outfit which featured singer-songwriter David Lowery at his most strident and self-consciously clever (and remains a going concern).
"Someday Our Love Will Sell Us Out," however, picks up where the band left off in the late-'80s (I'm thinking specifically of their Status Quo cover, "Pictures of Matchstick Men"). Jonathan Segel's violin-playing was always a big part of the CVB sound, and his whirling dervish approach to the instrument lends the track an air of mystery and romance. One of 2013's more pleasant surprises.
* They officially reunited in 2004 for New Roman Times, but things have been quiet since.
Camper Van was among a handful of popular acts I resisted in the 1980s for a variety of reasons, mostly because they were associated with "college rock," a genre with which I've long had a love-hate relationship, but my first Seattle job was at Cellophane Square in Bellevue—yep, the mall—and co-worker Matthew Reid Schwartz, who would later join Kinski, convinced me to give them a closer listen, so he made the following tape, and that did the trick. Thanks, Matt!
Cover art from Matt Groening's Life in Hell
From the fan-filled press notes for the upcoming record:
"I was already a fan of CVB when they came to Seattle and played the Fabulous Rainbow Tavern. The show was amazing. I remember besides all the great songs from their first album, that they played the 'Theme From S.W.A.T.' too, with Jonathan playing the melody on a tiny Casio. Their songwriting and production skills started at great, and got even better with Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie. When I saw them in Portland a few years ago the spark was still there—a fantastic show."
— Scott McCaughey* (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, R.E.M., etc.)
* McCaughey also worked at Cellophane Square, in the University District, for a few years.
Camper Van Beethoven and II & III both appeared in 1986
429 Records releases La Costa Perdida on Jan 22 (listen to first single "Northern California Girls" here). Camper Van plays the Tractor Tavern on Feb 22.