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El Camino Real (Bonus Track Edition)

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iTunes Review

The Southern California–focused El Camino Real is the sibling release to 2013’s La Costa Perdida, which was steeped in Northern California flavors, and a good number of El Camino Real's songs came from Perdida recording sessions. With the delightfully dry delivery and ironic lyrics of David Lowery and the slightly off-kilter violin, mandolin, and sitar of Jonathan Segel feeling nearly as fresh as they did back in the early ‘80s, El Camino Real is something of a wonder. With old and new members on board at various times, there are plenty of guitars (see-sawing, mewling, steely, jangly) and sing-along choruses, foot-stomping party songs, and dark, Lowery-as-lost-soul moments; the many moods of Camper Van still throb and pulsate here with a kind of neon glow. Yet it’s a more ominous vibe than that of the Northern California lovefest. The strongest songs, like “Camp Pendleton” and “It Was Like That When We Got Here,” are instantly memorable treasures—nearly as strong as that skinhead tune you used to sing along to at the top your lungs—and make it pretty obvious these guys have a very special kind of chemistry. Hallelujah.

Customer Reviews

Excellent 2nd punch

The 2nd of 2 companion albums, El Camino Real is edgier and grittier than the easier NoCal vibe of La Costa Perdida, asking for more listens to get a feel for it. Lisher lays down some really interesting licks on this one, where Jonathan's role is more secondary to the sound. Check out Camp Pendleton, Classy Dames & Able Gents and Dockweiler Beach to see where this one's headed.


Formed: 1983 in Redlands, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Back in the day, before alternative rock was invented and indie rock was still shy of roots music and other folk elements, Camper Van Beethoven's merging of punk, folk, ska, and world music was truly a revelation. Singer/songwriter David Lowery's smart-aleck lyrics, delivered in laid-back California style, combined with Jonathan Segel's violin as lead instrument, were the band's instant trademarks. Decades after their inception, CVB's sound is still remarkably fresh and their influence on alternative...
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