I like Chicano Batman's moniker, it sounds like a forgotten cartoon superhero, to whom people have not paid enough attention, although Chicano the man sounds much more colorful and interesting than the blockbuster dark avenger.
At Amoeba Friday night, Chicano Batman the band, dressed in matching Las-Vegas-lounge-singer-ruffled blue shirts, threw a lot of things in their songs more like the Fantastic Four than the Caped Crusader!, from early 70s Brazilian bossa nova, to funk, samba, soul, jazz, cumbia and other Latino rhythms, each song could have been a melting pot of about everything, rather turned towards the past generations, but don’t be too fast at calling them retro.
Bardo Martinez on guitar, keyboard and vocals, Eduardo Arenas on bass and vocals, Gabriel Villa on drums, and Carlos Arévalo on guitar seemed to like adventurous detours and musical collages all wrapped up into a slow spacey-druggy psychedelia. The tempo changed constantly during their set, even during the same song, sometimes wandering towards the 60s or 70s, then switching from a wobbling Yamaha keyboard session to a wah-wah guitar effect, going from retro-soul-church-organ-sound to funk-dub ambiance. It is quite complicated to describe the crazy ‘mess’ they were doing, sometimes disconcerting and sure unexpected at each meander of their complicated amalgam.
They were promoting the recent release of their EP ‘Joven Navegante’, following their previous and self-titled album, and visibly happy to take a break from the heat outside in the air-conditioned store.
The lyrics, when there were some, were mostly in Spanish, and vocals were going from romantic lounge singer to tropical serenade tenor and the whole thing had this ambiance of 60s prom-dance-hall seen through an off-center kaleidoscope… Despite all these different sounds, the constant feeling was the laid-back attitude, the languish weirdness of their wah guitars, trembling organ, and warm bass lines, often ending into long, slow-spacey jams that could have embodied the torridity of this Friday afternoon in Los Angeles.