Primo Jags and ace Ernie Ball axes help the funkateer channel Eddie Hazel grooves through a prism of Tropicália rhythms.

Chicano Batman Carlos Arévalo RR1

Facing a mandatory shelter-in ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 14th video in that format, and we stand behind the final product.

Chicano Batman was formed in 2008 with Bardo Martinez (lead vocals/keyboards/guitar), Eduardo Arenas (bass/vocals), and Gabriel Villa (drums/percussion). The foursome was fortified shortly thereafter with the arrival of Carlos Arévalo on guitar. And since then, the quartet has sharpened their modus operandi. They took their influences (English invasion, ’60s soul, ’70s psych rock, and Brazilian artists like Caetano Veloso and other Tropicália music) and morphed them into something that represents East L.A. in both 2020 and 1970.

To that point, CB is a cohesive collective of artistic assassins like The A-Team, Captain Planet, or The Avengers. Each member brings something unique, authoritative that complements and elevates the greater groove of the band.

Bardo pads his social commentary and ecological worries with an airy, sultry cadence that’s warmly hugged by warbly notes from his vintage Crumar TI Organ. Bassist Eduardo Arenas might be the busiest of the bunch with his lead lines and tasty locomotion that charges the band. That horsepower is in lockstep with the complex, time-morphing Latin percussion laid down by drummer Gabriel Villa. And guitarist Carlos Arévalo is the utilitarian that fills in the holes. In “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” he masquerades as Electric Ladyland Hendrix, “The Taker Story” slips into Maggot Brain Eddie Hazel-mode, and throughout 2014’s Cycles of Existential Rhyme and 2017’s Freedom is Free he taps into Tom Verlaine’s melodic single-note interplay with chord stabs.

However, Arévalo’s most unifying force might actually be his restraint. The bulk of the new LP Invisible People was written on keyboards and synths forcing him to rethink the guitar’s previously heavy-handed role. For “Color My Life,” he plays two chords around the keyboard melody and arrangement. Alone the chords seem minimalistic and boring, but in the context of the song, they’re a rhythmic firecracker. Another “reserved” element is his chord shapes often incorporate only two or three notes of the full chord harmony to avoid colliding with keys and bass.

Following the release of CB’s fourth studio album in May 2020, the soft-spoken artist welcomed PG’s Chris Kies into his L.A.-based home. The “ADHD” tone chaser opens up about balancing between vintage Jags and mint Ernie Ball Music Man guitars, finding a Deluxe Reverb killer while on a family vacation, plucking fuzz advice from Dan Auerbach, and understanding when to play.

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