When Camper Van Beethoven formed in 1983, they instantly set themselves apart from the the rest of the Southern California punk scene. While most other bands were playing pure and visceral hardcore, the collective, led by frontman David Lowery, infused bits of pop, country, blues, Norteño music, ska, and even European folk, all while maintaining the scene’s core DIY mentality. The inventive combination led them through five albums before inter-band turmoil caused them to split in 1989.
Fast-forward over a decade, and after reuniting to assemble a collection of unreleased material, they hit the studio to record new music. Their first proper release (not including 2002’s full cover of Fleetwood Mac’s original Tusk) came with 2004’s New Roman Times. After spending the better part of the next decade touring, they finally released a follow-up, last year’s La Costa Perdida. While they’re just as busy on the road, and with various other projects and side gigs, they’re not waiting as long for album No. 9; El Camino Real hits stores on June 3rd via 429 Records.
According to a press release, “Whereas La Costa Perdida reflected the northern California ‘back to the country’ side of the band with lush and trippy references to Jack Keruac, Richard Brautigan, The Beach Boys and ‘Big Sur’, the songs on El Camino Real are firmly rooted in a grittier earth. One that lies beneath the southern half of the state and stretches all the way down to Baja California.” Added Lowery, “the best way to look at the new album is to draw a contrast between the two. On La Costa Perdida the ocean is calm, benevolent and feminine; on El Camino Real, the sea is filled with darkness, secrets and chemicals.”
As our first taste of the 11-track effort, the band’s unveiled “It Was Like That When We Got Here”. As they’ve done through most of their career, Camper initially come off as a simple rock band, plugging away in a vein somewhere between angsty power-pop and Hüsker Dü-era college rock. But with the slow infusion of mournful violin and bits of free-form bluegrass, the band set the stage for their true defining talent: expressing the kind of heartache and frustration that, while never knowing a sense of relief, is just as potent as it was back in 1983.
(Read: Dissected: Camper Van Beethoven)
Listen in below:
El Camino Real Tracklist:
01. The Ultimate Solution
02. It Was Like That When We Got Here
03. Classy Dames and Able Gents
04. Camp Pendleton
05. Dockweiler Beach
07. I Live in LA
08. Out Like a Lion
10. Darken Your Door