Chicano Batman: Lembrancinha (snippet)
Itotiani (snippet)
From Chicano Batman (Unicornio, 2010)

When Super Sonido’s Joseph Franko sent me this album, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A name like “Chicano Batman” doesn’t really instantly invoke a particular sound – it’s a bit hard to reconcile, say, East L.A./Whittier Blvd. soul with the “Batman” theme – so when I threw it on, I was prepared to expect anything and yet I got was a genuine surprise of the best kind.

Chicano Batman is made up of the Los Angeles’ trio of Bardo Martinez, Eduardo Arenas and Gabriel Villa and they’re clearly conversant with any number of styles – many of which don’t scream “Chicano” in any predictable way. For example, what instantly struck me the first time listening through was the heavy Brazilian influence. As you can hear on “Lembrancinha” (Portuguese for “souvenir”), the whole vibe is very Jorge Ben/Milton Nascimento. “Itotiani” is more enigmatic to me and even more sublime – I love the mix of soulful rhythms with the spacey zaps and those “oooh whee” background vocals. The rest of the album goes in many different directions, including some nice, laid-back cumbias; it’s just a hard LP to pin down to any single sound.

The band is going to be playing this Wednesday at one of my favorite Southland bars – Footsies. Looks like this will be at my man Rani D’s night; L.A. peeps – come through and holler.