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)

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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
Review: Grandmaster, <i>Grandmaster</i>
Review: Grandmaster, Grandmaster
Funk prog rock supergroup lures listeners through each stage of cosmic cult indoctrination

Miranda Garza, May 24, 2024

Review: Nova, <i>NovApocalypse</i>
Review: Nova, NovApocalypse
Experimental folk-pop player Nova’s sophomore release gets twisted

Laiken Neumann, May 24, 2024

More by Thomas Fawcett
Dispatches From a New Decade of SXSW
Dispatches From a New Decade of SXSW
Our favorite musical moments from the fest

March 25, 2022

The Best Music We Saw at SXSW on Friday
The Best Music We Saw at SXSW on Friday
Seventies funk GOATs, queer nu metal, and so much more

March 19, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Chicano Batman, SXSW Music 2017

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

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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