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Chicano Batman’s “Magma”

It was love at first lick with the Chicano Batman EP, Magma. While the group reflect the audio influence of the retro revival that has emerged from the extended Daptones family, they imbue their vintage style with a special vibe that screams LA, specifically the type of oozing Latino psych-soul that calls to mind bands like Brownout or (going back further) Los Lobos. The group’s sound is a wonderful- the drum kit is played with the light touch and frantic playfulness of an old soulster with A.D.H.D., the organs are set to full-force quiver, and every break and pause is dispatched with a theatrical, left-of-center approach. While this could easily fall into the tired realm of pastiche, the group has really made something new out of this nearly-tapped genre, and it’s unquestionably a pleasure to listen to.

The title track is a behind-the-beat, laid back kind of thing, all plinking little 8th notes, melodious pleas from frontman Bardo Martinez’s shapely voice, and an instrumental section that sounds like guitar virtuoso Nels Cline on vacation in Mexico City. “Cycles of Existential Rhymes” is a slinkier affair, rollicking forward on the strength of its guitar jabs, slippery bass line, and the angular rhythmic interjections peppered throughout the piece. It’s fun and engaging music, but the tune is laced with a gentle sadness, conjuring a vibe somewhere between melancholy and nostalgia. The EP closes with, “Amor Verde”, a two-part harmony tune that will break your heart with its molasses melody and creaky, old oom-pah-pah. If this band is just getting started, we can’t WAIT to hear what they do next.

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