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Latin Roots: Chicano Batman

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

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.