SXSW Thursday Record Reviews

Chicano Batman

Freedom Is Free (ATO)

SXSW Thursday Record Reviews

Produced by former Dap-Kings saxophonist and Truth & Soul impresario Leon Michels, the third album from Chicano Batman represents a huge leap forward for an act that sounds like no other. Freedom Is Free brings the L.A. psych-soul outfit's classic stylings to the forefront without losing their eclectic mix of influences, most notably low-rider oldies and Brazilian tropicalia. A political undercurrent runs through the hazy, sun-warped title track and bluntly on "The Taker Story," a stinging rebuke of human greed that invokes Fela Kuti, Gil Scott-Heron, and spiritual jazz yodeler Leon Thomas. Often delivered in an off-key falsetto, the vocal stylings of Bardo Martinez aren't technically sound, but like the band itself they overflow with warmth and infinite charm. (Thu. 16, Cedar Street Courtyard, 10:30pm; Fri. 17, Lucille, 1am)

****

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Spoon's <i>Hot Thoughts</i> Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Spoon's Hot Thoughts Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Britt Daniel and Jim Eno talk about the rise of R&B in the band's sound

Tim Stegall, June 2, 2017

Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Final love / hate SXSW listicles

Kevin Curtin, March 24, 2017

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Townes Van Zandt
Sky Blue (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, April 19, 2019

Texas Platters
Tia Carrera
Visitors / Early Purple (Record Review)

Michael Toland, April 19, 2019

More by Thomas Fawcett
Five Essential Acts to Check Out at the Austin Reggae Festival
Five Essential Acts to Check Out at the Austin Reggae Festival

April 19, 2019

Jamaica Dancehall Legend General Smiley on Pioneering the Art Form and Settling in Central Texas
Jamaica Dancehall Legend General Smiley on Pioneering the Art Form and Settling in Central Texas
Austin Reggae Fest standout might as well call Austin home

April 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Chicano Batman, SXSW Music 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle