'Times' for a Camper Van Beethoven Reunion

fromWXPN

Set List

Songs played by Camper Van Beethoven for 'World Cafe':

  • "That Gum You Like Is Back in Style"
  • "51-7"
  • "Might Makes Right"
  • "Take the Skinheads Bowling"
  • "Pictures of Matchstick Men"
  • "Eye of Fatima"

In the burgeoning indie-rock scene of the 1980s, Camper Van Beethoven occupied a unique slot. The band's lyrics were clever but sometimes impenetrable; its sound was wide-ranging but hard to define — or market.

Camper Van Beethoven, pioneers of the self-release movement, revived their Pitch-a-Tent label.

Camper Van Beethoven, pioneers of the self-release movement, revived their Pitch-a-Tent label for New Roman Times. hide caption

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Still, the group's early work, from 1985's Telephone Free Landslide Victory to 1988's Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, cemented a base of devoted fans. And their cryptic wit and dense, layered music offered rewards in repeated listening.

Their fans' latest subject for analysis is the concept record New Roman Times, a 20-song description of a futureworld in which California and Texas are fractured from the United States, with soldiers choosing their own sides.

The reunion that produced the record has its roost in 2000, when David Lowery (vocals, guitar), Victor Krummenacher (bass, vocals), Jonathan Segel (violin, guitar, keyboards), Greg Lisher (guitar), Chris Pedersen (drums) and David Immerglück (guitar and various stringed instruments) got together to play in support of Lowery's "other" band, Cracker.

Assured they could still produce the Camper Van Beethoven effect — blending genres of world and rock, translating current events into a swirl of witty banter and interpretation — the group collaborated in writing the songs that became New Roman Times.

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