Camper Van Beethoven


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Admittedly, it's understandable to see why CVB's sense of humor rubbed some people the wrong way. Titling a second album II & III and sprinkling it with songs titled "ZZ Top Goes to Egypt" and "No Kruggerands for David" sounds more like a parody of rock rather than rock itself. That never stopped Pavement, though, and on II & III, CVB sounds as inventive and unexpectedly inspired as before, mashing its influences together into a delightful brew. However, this time the band sounds a touch more straightforward; new member Chris Pederson's drumming sounds stronger, providing a good pace throughout and pumping up the energy on "Down And Out." Wigginess abounds musically and lyrically -- "Cowboys from Hollywood" sounds like an amped-up honky-tonk, and following it with the on-the-level country of "Sad Lovers Waltz" fits whatever master plan there was. Lowery doesn't sing lead as much this time out; he's still the primary singer, but often is accompanied by most of the rest of the band as well. But as always, Segel is the wild card with violin and nutty keyboards ahoy. There's some refreshing iconoclasm at play -- years before Sonic Youth became 'the legendary Sonic Youth,' CVB took that group's "I Love Her All the Time" and transformed its New York art angst into a kick-up-your-heels bit of yee-haw ska. It's worth hearing for Lowery and company's vocal drawls alone. The album concludes with the hilarious "No More Bullshit," mixing wanky solos with repetitive punk-rock slogans and strange comments -"Elvis Presley died! And no one knows why!"

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