It's a familiar story. Indie band builds rabid following for its distinctively weird music; popularity leads to a major-label contract; demands for greater accessibility water down the band's sound; changes piss off longtime supporters, yet fail to entice enough new fans; disillusioned and frustrated, the band breaks up. Camper Van Beethoven, fronted by David Lowery, hit each of these benchmarks at anticipated intervals during the second half of the '80s, going from cult favorite to rock-and-roll footnote in half a decade. Just as predictably, the players are now back together, and their appearance alongside the Graham Colton Band, Blue Merle and Jem for the first night of the Fox's annual showcase for the R and R Triple A Radio Convention shows that making a living is on their minds. Fortunately, the independently released New Roman Times, their first new album in fifteen years, embraces the sonic eccentricities that once characterized the Campers. The twisted, satirical rock opera includes appealing ditties like "Come Out," a song about a hit record that has less than no chance of actually becoming one, and thank goodness. Otherwise, the end of the story wouldn't be familiar at all.
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