Local Wire

Camper Van Beethoven

The very essence of wacky irreverence, Camper Van Beethoven created music like sonic Unabombers, lobbing folk-inflected conundrums into the marketplace. Whether penning a polka-punk tune like "Take the Skinheads Bowling," naming its second album II & III, or rerecording Fleetwood Mac's entire Tusk album while snowbound together in a cabin, CVB always brought a no-holds-barred adventurousness to its musical tussles. The band's sound is an odd mesh of woozy C&W (keyed to Jonathan Segel's violin), acid-tinged folk, and offbeat rock, plus whatever they could find in the cupboard. The only thing singer/guitarist David Lowery retained from CVB in forming Cracker was his penchant for odd lyrical themes, as little of the band's tape manipulations, odd time signatures and cranky iconoclasm survived. However, after 15 years apart, prompted by their work together on the odds and sods album Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead (which included new "manipulations" and music), the band's reunited to record New Roman Times, a rock opera about a juvenile delinquent who joins an elite military unit. What'd ya expect, rubber biscuits?