By Jacob Newman
Chicano Batman’s Cycles of Existential Rhyme, to me, represents one of those rare moments when everything goes completely as planned. There is so much that can be said about this album, which, I will make no attempt to hide, is one of my all time favorites. The cover is a clear homage to the Door’s Waiting for the Sun, and the band’s influence is clear through whirling organs on the title track. Ironically, this was one of the Doors albums that did not prominently feature the instrument, but there are other clear influences. Dreamy, romantic, and ultra-poetic lyricism dominates Chicano Batman’s album.
What makes it so fun is that half of the tracks are in Spanish, and half are in English. The group flows effortlessly between these two languages in an enviable way, creating profound poetry back and forth.
The album has highs and lows, but in a way it functions like one great big jam, with each track flowing into the next with a sort of reserved logic.
Influences are everywhere: in interviews, the band has cited everyone from Frank Zappa to Metallica to Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and these sporadic ideas are expressed throughout the recording.
I won’t make any secret of it: these guys are my heroes. I can only name a few modern artists who make me this excited. Their most recent album, Freedom is Free, is excellent and represents clear growth for the group, but this 2014 album will always amaze me for its innovative blend of sounds.
It moves anywhere from the brassy funking fun of “El Frio II” to the majorly mellow, aptly titled, “Stoned Soul Picnic”. There are some tracks, like “She Lives On My Block” that I can listen to anytime, but there is no bad place to start on this album.
Bardo Martinez has a voice like a classic crooner, and it can rarely hide his infectious optimism. Eduardo Arenas’s bass lines are incredibly distinct, and they create a full sound for the recordings.
Each spicy, bouncing track on this album is more infectious than the next. How much fun can four guys with a bunch of instruments possibly have?
The group did a Tiny Desk concert, which gives a great insight into their sound, you can find the video below.
Everyone has their guilty pleasure. Some people love sweets, or fast food once a week, or things far worse. Mine is Chicano Batman.
“Cycles of Existential Rhyme”
“She Lives on My Block”