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Music

Latin Roots: Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman outside the <em>World Cafe</em> performance studio at WXPN in Philadelphia.
Chicano Batman outside the <em>World Cafe</em> performance studio at WXPN in Philadelphia.

This Latin Roots session all started when four guys from Los Angeles showed up at our studio looking like, well, four guys from Los Angeles, in track pants, T-shirts and sneakers. They finished sound check and disappeared for a while — and when they came back, it was like somebody'd hit the 1976 button on the time machine. Those four guys returned sporting matching tuxedos with ruffled collars, their two back-up singers in blinding, sparkly dresses. They had morphed into Chicano Batman.

The band's style game is strong, and so is its music — funky and flavorful, with shades of psychedelic pop, soulful Latin swagger and Brazilian tropicalia. With its first couple records and a steady stream of hometown gigs, Chicano Batman earned a reputation as LA's house band. But it's now poised for a big breakout with its latest record, Freedom Is Free.

In this session, the members of Chicano Batman break down the band's name, discuss the difference between singing about political issues and being a political band and talk about the police brutality that inspired the song "La Jura." Hear that conversation and a live performance via the player above, and watch the band play "Freedom Is Free" below.

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