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New Roman Times
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But set aside the concept, and there are an unreasonably large number of great songs here. Now, keep in mind that CvB albums usually have 5-6 good songs and a lot of filler (unless you're a fan of their bizarre Baltic-folk-polka-stomps, which I'm not). This one's got maybe 10 good songs. Still far short of the 20 tracks that appear on the album, but 10 good songs are still more than you find on most albums. And some are really great. "51-7" (no, I have no idea what that means) is their strongest anthem since... well, maybe even their first (and greatest) song, "Take The Skinheads Bowling." And "That Gum You Like Is Back In Style" is the prettiest slice of mellow Americana since... well, maybe their last good song, "Sweethearts" (from their pre-breakup swan song). The rest (excluding the weird instrumental nonsense that I mostly skip) is a pleasant, and at times captivating, blend of alt.country and indie pop, earnest songwriting and goofy humor. By all means check it out.
New Roman Times is a terrible and glorious vision. It is one of fear, and anger, and unity, and blind obedience in the face of terror. It is the wake of aggression, it is the rumblings of an awakened people, it is the horror we face as a result of our actions.
If this isn't one of the finest protest albums ever recorded, then I don't what is. It is more than just a three minute jingle. It is the long dark journey of a nation misled... one groping blindly in the dark.
It is also musically brilliant.
Despite elements of both projects showing up, most noticably in "Hippy Chix" (Cracker) and both "White Fluffy Clouds" and "Discotheque CVB" (Monks of Doom), this is very much a Camper Van Beethoven record. After several listens, there are no tracks that grab my attention and put an immediate smile on my face (as there were on all previous Camper records, even "Key Lime Pie"), but this is clearly a return to form, and the return of Jonathan Segel as violinist/multi-instrumentalist is most welcome.
My favorite tracks so far are the eastern European ska of "R 'n R Uzbekistan" (which could have been an out take from any one of their first three records) and the darkly humorous "Might Makes Right", both of which are close in the track listing and land about 1/3rd of the way through the record - right where it really starts picking up steam.
The wry, tongue in cheek lyrical content has survived the 15 year hiatus successfully, although the album content is darker than any previously - inevitable maybe, given the times in which we live. The concept (and yes, it is a concept album) is certainly topical, but handled with enough fantastic elements and black humor to keep it from seeming overbearing.
I could go on all day - Camper was one of my favorite bands, and seeing them go (even in their diminished form of the "key Lime Pie" era) was difficult to take. I couldn't be happier they're back, original line-up intact, and this record is a worthy first outing after such a long absence. I have a feeling it's only going to get better from here. Welcome back, boys.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Five stars for the original 2004 release, not the 2015 remaster.
I've followed this band since their first album. Read more
This album is another fav. It came out later in the bands career and is a good example of a band evolving through time to stay solid. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Darin L Bower
Even if this album wasn't, as of the date of this review, only $3.99 (or 1 cent used, "very good"), it is really an impressive return by Camper Van Beethoven. Read morePublished 21 months ago by DjC
I bought the band's "comeback" album, "La Costa Perdida", earlier this year, and while I liked most of it, I felt that it didn't really have the same magic and... Read morePublished on December 11, 2013 by Donald E. Gilliland
This is a fun mellow album, by the noted Satan worshippers, Camper Van Beethoven.
The problem with it, is that it has too much dang Hog**** country 'twangs' in it. Read more
A great album, by a great group of artists delivered quickly. This CD has some amazing gems and it was quickly delivered. What else can you ask for?Published on April 15, 2013 by L. Milenkovic
Great album. If you don't have this one yet it is a must. After so many years without an album it is nice to hear the band back together in its entirety.Published on March 12, 2013 by AK
I don't understand all the negative response this album has elicited in long-time CVB fans. It may not be another TFLV or Key Lime Pie, but it is still a good album never the less. Read morePublished on January 27, 2012 by Zepplyn
Yeah, I know, comeback albums usually suck. This one doesn't, though! It kind of sounds like you'd imagine Camper might sound if they had never broken up and had just kept... Read morePublished on May 18, 2009 by mabewa