Friday, February 2, 2007

The Beginning of the End

Camper Van Beethoven

This is the third (self-titled) album by CVB. I consider this the beginning of the end of our neat little mid-80's underground scene.

Ya see, kiddees, at one time, you couldn't get these undergroundish records at just any store. You had to go to the city that had the college, and go to the hipster store, and there you might find the stuff you saw in the 'zines.

And when these bands came to town, they came to the store to play some songs. They'd hang out with the kids, and be all nice, 'cause someone might buy a record or two. Or share some pot.

What killed this scene was ultimately the fact that it was too fun to keep a secret for too long. MTV started breaking some of our bands into a bigger almost-mainstream. Making the world safe for so-called "alternative rock". Leading to the shittiest period in American Music since the pre-bebop 40s.

I blame two bands for setting the template for the crappy alt-rock of the early 90s. Exhibit one: the $#&^*$% Pixies. And that god-awful soft/loud/soft shtick. The second I hear a Pixies influence in a record, it's off my turntable, dammit.

Exhibit two: Camper Van Beethoven. The slacker/stoner attitude. Nevermind, in its embryonic form. Dig Good Guys and Bad Guys on the link. It's a well greased downward slope straight to **&$%^ Pavement from here.

Sure, I oversimplify. There's accomplices like Beasties, Sonic Youth, Daniel Johnston, RHCP - all influences in their own way. But it is the combo of Pixies and CVB that most clearly points to crap-ass 90s college rock for me.

Still, I really liked CVB at the time, and still am soft for them. They're smart - dig Joe Stalin's Cadillac or History of Utah. They skip styles without being David Byrne. And they drop a corker when they need to - Shut 'Em Down, for instance. Blaming CVB for their influence is a bit like blaming Jack Nicholson for Christian Slater, so I'll refrain.


Chardman said...

What a totally cool and right-on rant!
I couldn't agree more. And Pixies as an influence on newer bands has always amused me, too. Even though I initially liked them (and still like some of their stuff) I think they had one of the most contrived schticks around. A little early Eno, a smidgen of Brian Wilson and viola!
I liked the faux-ethnic rock theme on the first CVB album.
Another band I hear imitated a lot is Pavement.

TBA said...

I've always thought as Pavement as the personification of the worst of CVB, and I can't fuckin' stand 'em. And I agree, all the CA nerd punk bands from the 90s sound like Pavement trying to sing Good Guys and Bad Guys from this record.