PREMIERE: Forget What You’ve Heard, Chicano Batman Says “Freedom is Free”

The LA quartet preview the title cut from their forthcoming third album.

Forty-seven years ago, Curtis Mayfield began his solo career with a bassline: a big, ugly, distorted rope of bass that was funky in a technical sense but that didn’t really augur well for what was to follow. You could dance to it, but “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go” was meant to shake loose tightened minds; should your ass happen to follow, consider it a bonus.

LA’s Chicano Batman have long plied a polyrhythmic blend of Tropicália with American soul—two other genres whose musical sweetness often masks deep political and ideological engagement—and as they prepare to release their ATO debut Freedom is Free, they, like the rest of us, are being forced to confront a future that makes miscegenation of any kind—romantic, ideological, or musical—feel like a dangerous transgression; it’s one of the reasons why we called it one of the albums we’re most looking forward to hearing this year. Fittingly, the title track, which we’re premiering today, also delivers its message within the folds of funk.

“Because of the ascendence of capitalism as a dominant form of cultural exchange, freedom (however you choose to define it) has been commodified like any other product,” says singer Bardo Martinez. “Throughout our history the state has presented the rationale (through propagandistic means and ends) that freedom is not free, that your personal freedom is contingent and dependent on the well being of the state. This logic has explicitly justified war and its atrocities in the name of freedom. This song is an anti-thesis to that ideological fallacy. Freedom is as free as the spirit, as nature, as the universe itself. No matter how hard man tries to control every nuance of nature’s movement, he will not succeed. Freedom is a concept of the feeling of nature itself propelling everything in the universe in motion.”

Though it’s not as stark as “If There’s A Hell Below,” “Freedom is Free” presents no less damning of an argument; if anything, the song’s sweetness, the ease with which it unfolds along that provocative bassline, suggests both the inevitability of its message and the band’s confidence in it. Give “Freedom is Free” a listen below, and make sure to catch Chicano Batman on tour; those dates are below, too.

Freedom is Free tracklist

“Passed You By”
“Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm)”
“Angel Child”
“Freedom is Free”
“La Jura (Prelude)”
“Flecha Al Sol”
“Right Off the Back”
“The Taker Story”
“Area C”

Chicano Batman tour dates

Feb 23 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile #
Feb 24 – Portland, OR – Star Theater #
Feb 25 – Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Hall #
Feb 26 – Arcata, CA – Arcata Theatre Lounge #
Mar 01 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s #
Mar 02 – San Jose, CA – The Ritz #
Mar 03 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore #
Mar 13 – Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad $
Mar 19 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio $
Mar 21 – Atlanta, GA – The EARL #
Mar 22 – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight #
Mar 23 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 #
Mar 24 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern #
Mar 25 – Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel #
Mar 27 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Showcase Lounge #
Mar 28 – Boston, MA — The Sinclair #
Mar 31 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom #
Apr 01 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry @ The Fillmore #
Apr 02 – Pittsburgh, PA – James Street Ballroom #
Apr 04 – Toronto, ON – The Velvet Underground #
Apr 05 – Detroit, MI – El Club #
Apr 06 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Stache @ The Intersection #
Apr 07 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall #
Apr 08 – St. Louis, MO – The Firebird $
Apr 10 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater $
Apr 11 – Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf $
Apr 15 – Indio, CA – Coachella
Apr 22 – Indio, CA – Coachella

# w. 79.5
$ w. The Shacks
All dates w. SadGirl

Freedom is Free is out March 3 via ATO. You can preorder the album here.


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