It's been a good nine years since the last album of new material by indie-rock stalwarts Camper Van Beethoven; more remarkably, the band is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Camper's 10th album, which explores a variety of oddball characters from the Northern California coastline, includes most of the original members. It kicks off with "Come Down the Coast," which features one of David Lowery's charming vocals and is lovely enough to make a listener pine for the simpler times of the band's heyday. It's one of those album-opening tunes that makes you want to play it over and over, threatening to neglect the rest of the record.
But you'll be further rewarded if you tear yourself away from the first song long enough to hear the slightly Bowiesque "Too High for the Love-In," with its flirtatious female backing vocals and a skewed artsy coda; the Hamlet-quoting mutant-stoner blues of "You Got to Roll"; the prog-rock stateliness of "Summer Days"; the quasi-norteño of the Spanglish-peppered title track; or the punk-revved folk of "Peaches in the Summertime."
Then there's the 7-minute epic "Northern California Girls," which showcases a gorgeous violin solo by Jonathan Segel, into which is twined a nice guitar lead.
Clearly, the members of Camper Van Beethoven still have a few tricks up their collective sleeve. More importantly, they still seem to possess the magic. During the 1980s and early '90s, the band played in Tucson often — here's hoping it returns when touring behind this album.