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Camper Van Beethoven 

With the Damnwells. Sunday, October 31, at the Odeon.

Camper van Beethoven
  • Camper van Beethoven
Camper Van Beethoven The sound of Jonathan Segel's violin went a long way in distinguishing Camper Van Beethoven from other '80s alt-rock bands, but Segel himself was long gone by the time the band called it quits. The culprit? Too many songwriting head-butts with Camper frontman David Lowery. And as Segel says, "The singer gets to keep the band."

It's all water under the bridge now, however, as Camper is back in full force. New Roman Times, its first studio album in 15 years, tracks a nameless Texas youth into the military, through disillusionment and drug abuse, and out an explosive other side. Simply put, it's the most cohesive and arguably most important record of Camper's stutter-step career.

Does the twisting narrative owe to a particular genre?

"I don't really like the term 'concept record' so much anymore," Segel says. "A couple of people have asked me about that, but it's like in talking about it more, I kind of started to realize that really any record is a concept record. When people write songs, you know, they write them for the period of time that they are putting the record together, and it ultimately has a sort of cohesive unit to it.

"Since we put a story line together for it, I would say it's more like a rock opera, but the story line is kind of abstract. So I think that the songs could be taken separately. Like you could take the songs from Tommy separately or something."

Now if they can only get Ann-Margret to roll around in some baked beans . . .

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