For the last few years, Chicano Batman have lived up to their super hero pseudonym: ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds in garish garb. If you’re previous unaware, peruse the back-story of Bardo Martinez (and company), the Bruce Wayne of the LA psych rock game. There are the archives, there is my LA Weekly column, and there are these new songs lifted from their new album, Cycles of Existential Rhyme (pre-order link here, due Feb. 18).
Chicano Batman attack past styles with restless creativity, deep funk, and virtuosity. The latest album cover depicts them sans trademark tuxedos and it’s fitting. No more games or fancy costume. These are songs you can play a BBQ in any era, yet remain ingrained in the LA of 2014. You don’t need to see the artwork to see hints of Arthur Lee’s Love, but they also channel the abyssal groove of oft-forgotten but outstanding 70s fusion gods, Mandrill and Cymande. What Dungen did to groups like Swede legends, Parson Sound, Chicano Batman do to the Latin-tinged fusion of the 1970s — they update it and organize sounds at their own leisure, pulling from modernity with the same legerdemain as someone with crates it would take a lifetime to sample.
Yet they remain arguably most underrated and maybe best rock group in LA — one of those groups that inspires effusiveness in any musician you meet or anyone with a good pair of ears. If you’re tired of the funkless rock groups trotting out the same set of tired influences, these are the rhymes you should be checking for.
Tour dates for the groups upcoming West Coast swing below, along with two new songs.
Album Release Shows:
Sunday, February 16, 2014 – The Casbah, San Diego
Saturday February 22, 2014 – La Cita, Los Angeles
Saturday March 1, 2014 – TBA, Oakland
Friday March 7, 2014 Phoenix SXSW Fest