Camper Van Beethoven - La Costa Perdida
Having seen this band in one of their ever-changing incarnations during the Key Lime Pie tour at the now defunct Pine Street Theatre in South East Portland, hearing David Lowery's lazy west Coast drawl sure does bring back memories. I still remember that gig and the joyous wild abandon that they stirred up with their bizarre bag of tunes. Camper Van Beethoven were so cool that you instantly became cool by association if you owned at least two of their many weird and wonderful albums, and if you saw them live you were uber cool. One of the original DIY bands, you always had a feeling that the group was one long hobby rather than any "we want to be rock stars" aspiration. The songs were sometimes nonsensical, ironic, and other times just plain weird. Which is what made them great. They did what they did for fun, and as a result became one of the most influential band of the U.S. 80s indie scene. And that influence can still be felt today.
La Costa Perdida feels like a bit of a family reunion. Recorded by the original line up plus loads of hanger-ons, with the same old melange of styles, inide, ska, pop, folk, and rock, which instantly makes you want to change into your flannel shirt ripped jeans and Vans. The cool laid back 'Come Down To The Coast' eases us in nicely, then it is the bouncy fun of 'Too High For The Love-In' with the stellar line "Bring to me the anti-venom / and make me a sandwich." I do hope that's on the tour t-shirts. 'You've Got To Roll' is straight-forward bluesy rock with one of the most wonderfully cheesy guitar solos ever. 'Peaches In The Summertime' and 'Summer Days' are classic CVB and hearken back to their 80s heyday. The glimmering ripeness of 'Summer Days' and the country-tinged title track showcase the violin, which had always been a mainstay of their sound in the early days, and gives the songs a bucolic homey feel.
The album ends with the interlude 'Aged In Wood' which segues into the lovely 'A Love For All Time', and a melancholy end it is too. After all the fun and glorious reminiscing of the previous tracks you fear that it may be years before these guys decide to get together again. A seminal band, whose presence is felt in bands as far reaching as The Dandy Warhols, The Vaccines, Veronica Falls, and any band influenced by the U.S. 80s indie scene. These guys were one of the pioneers and La Costa Perdida is a glorious example of why they still matter. Totally rad.