New Roman Times (CD Reissue)
Casper Van Beethoven
Omnivore Recordings 2015
Review by David Bowling
Casper Van Beethoven, formed by multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/vocalist David Lowery in California in 1983, released five well received studio albums including 1989’s brilliant Key Lime Pie. Internal dissention caused the band to dissolve in 1990 but a decade later they reformed.
New Roman Times, released in 2004, was the full reunion studio album of their second incarnation. It was also the most unique and creative release of their career. It has now been reissued with four previously unreleased bonus tracks.
New Roman Times was a huge leap of faith for the band. It is musically a cohesive rock opera. The big disconnect with the normal is the lyrical content as it presents a sci-fi alternative universe featuring the Christian Republic of Texas and the Republic of California.
Once you dig into the story, the album is a basically a dark protest album, complete with biting political humor. Just when it becomes over bearing, there’s some subtle humor thrown into the mix.
Twenty short blasts make up the story. While a few of the songs may stand on their own, it is at heart a cohesive release that creates a whole and needs to be listened too and experienced as such.
The original album was only released about 12 years ago, so the sound was excellent to begin with. The extensive liner notes by David Lowery are essential if you are exploring the album for the first time as he not only gives a history of the album but explains each track.
New Roman Times is one of those albums you will either worship or hate but it is an album that should be experienced at least once. All in all, an unusual and captivating release by an experienced Indy band.