Chicano Batman: Local Band We Love

Two years ago I had the pleasure of doing a gig at Mama Juana’s with a couple bands. I began my DJ set and played a few records and looked up and noticed the first band setting up ironing boards.

The band was dressed in what looked like they could have been playing at a prom in 1974. The first thought that crossed my mind was “Odelay“.

The soundman cued me to end my set and the MC introduced the band with one of the most unique names I have ever heard. Chicano Batman!

Song by song they delivered soul mixed into cumbias, bossa nova and Latin flavor.

Just to put things into perspective: Cumbias originate from Columbia, Bossa Nova in Brazil and Latin flavor is well, Latin. What I love about this group is their ability to play so many different genres of South America and effortlessly rock a party just as a DJ plays different records from different time periods.

Check out the track “Joven Navegante” off their most recent EP:

Chicano Batman is one of the most exciting bands to come out of Los Angeles!

They are passionate about every note and they know how to have a great time while playing their instruments.

You’ll have a blast with us at the Hammer Museum TOMORROW, Thursday, August 9. It’s the last night in the Made in LA series. It’s free and the festivities start at 7pm. More info here

– Anthony Valadez

Original Website: KCRW Music Blog

Oren Lyons: Local Band We Love

It’s rare that Jason Bentley will play a single track every day for a week on Morning Becomes Eclectic, but the track “Forever Found” by LA- band Oren Lyons has earned that distinction.

When the song begins, it sounds like a piece of orchestral music until the drums kick in and all of the sudden you’re sent on an ambient, slightly psychedelic trip. The strings add a blissful air of romanticism.

This may sound strange but when I really like a song, I feel like I want to take a swim in it. I would love to dive into this one.

Stream “Forever Found” and download it here. (click “save page as)

The band is pretty new, forming just this past January. Multi-instrumentalist composer Gueorgui Linev teamed up with guitarist/producer Peter Potyondy and singer Kristianne Bautista with the idea to pursue a fusion of “classical minimalism and experimental soul”.

The band has since expanded to a sextet, adding violinist Dannon Rampton, drummer Randy Wagner and bassist Ian Anderson to round out the sound.

What I love is how each individual musician adds to the sound – you can easily pick apart each instrument, including Kristianne’s beautiful voice, and hear how they contribute to the whole.

This kind of intricate orchestration has drawn us to bands like Other Lives. That Oklahoma band went on to open for Radiohead, so I wonder what this year holds for Oren Lyons


Original Website: KCRW Music Blog

Eleni Mandell’s Magic Summertime

Eleni Mandell is one of LA’s most dependably great singer songwriters – witty, warm, sensual and sweet. I hear all of that in her latest single, “Magic Summertime”, off her album “I Can See the Future”.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It’s classic pop about a romantic love affair that could never work but was fun while it lasted. I love this line especially:

“I knew, in my heart, that our chances were slim,
But a gambler never gambles to be wise.”

It’s lovely. Let it take you away on this Monday afternoon and grab the record here.  She’ll be playing the Bootleg Theater on August 25 if you’re in LA!



Original Website: KCRW Music Blog

Las Cafeteras: Local Band We Love

Las Cafeteras by Piero Giunti

(KCRW Music Blog Contributor Jose Galvan previews a handful of bands performing at the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York City, hosted by KCRW DJ Raul Campos)

For the last 7-10 years, the Son Jarocho revivalist movement, aptly named Movimiento Jaranero, has been thriving within Chicano communities all over the U.S. It is propelled by cultural centers whose main goal is to preserve and teach the unique musical style indigenous to Veracruz, Mexico.  Offering lessons in Jarana (small guitar-like instrument) and creating environments conducive for the Fandango (half to full circle “jam out” sessions) these cultural centers have been able to expose a new generation to the traditions of Jarocho storytelling.

It is out of this cultural movement that a group like Las Cafeteras emerged in 2005.

Taking their name from the community organization where they studied, Eastside Café, a group of 15-20 students began integrating and playing Son Jarocho at protests & art galleries around LA. Evolving over the years to a core group of 7 members that now tour all over the U.S. and play festivals and proper concert venues.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In a couple months they will be releasing their first studio album entitled, “It’s Time”, in response to the demand for their music. To date all that exists is a widely circulated recording from one of their live performances at Mucho Wednesdays — which even made its way onto KCRW’s airwaves thanks to DJ Chuck P.

Check out an exclusive preview off their forthcoming record. It’s “Cafe Con Pan“:

I’ve had a chance to hear the rest of the record, and it does not disappoint. They were able to keep the spontaneity of improvised lyrics and capture the excitement of the playful, back & forth verses onto a studio recording. All without losing the high-energy vibe of the Fandango you’d see at their shows.

Check out another track, “La Bamba Rebelde“, and download it here.

La Bamba Rebelde (from new album out Summer 2012) by Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras have gone from being mere students recreating a traditional music style to being masters of the genre. Integrating their refreshing perspective to an LA music scene that has wholeheartedly embraced them.

While the studio album is a great representation, this is definitely a band you have to experience live… and if you have a jarana or jawbone lying around, bring it. Just don’t tell them I said so.

– Jose Galvan



Original Website: KCRW Music Blog

La Santa Cecilia: Heir to LA’s Latin Music Throne?

(KCRW Music Blog Contributor Jose Galvan previews a handful of bands performing at the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York City, hosted by KCRW DJ Raul Campos)

In 2010, I curated a last minute Cinco de Mayo party and needed a band that was sure to get the party going. It was rumored that this fresh, young band from the LA area could turn any ordinary show into a dance frenzy. Without hearing their EP or seeing them live, I took a leap of faith and booked La Santa Cecilia. I was hoping that if they didn’t live up to the “party band” hype, at least they –having named themselves after the patron saint of music — would be good enough to play decent tunes.

Turns out La Santa Cecilia wasn’t just ok, they were incredible! Jaw dropping incredible! Their energy was so contagious that the entire place was dancing halfway into the first song.

Musically, they blend influences of jazz, cumbia, boleros, and klezmer with virtuous guitar licks compliments of Gloria Estrada and a menacing accordion played by the captivating Jose Carlos. On top of that, you have one of the most soulful voices singing in English & Spanish, in the form of frontwoman, La Marisoul.

It’s a true multicultural sound that can only be produced organically in a city like Los Angeles.

Stream their Latin Grammy-nominated track “La Negra” below and download it here.

Their performances are executed as if the band has been playing together for decades and their skillful transformation and re-arrangement of covers is mythical. They don’t play it that often anymore, but ask anyone who has seen La Santa live about their “Strawberry Fields Forever” cover. (Check out “Tainted Love” and “People Are Strange“)

After 3 independently released EPs (produced by Sebastian Krys) and headlining slots at Pachanga Fest in Austin, Silverlake Jubilee & Make Music Pasadena, La Santa Cecilia is ready to take their place as heirs to the musical legacy bands like Quetzal and Ozomatli established for LA.

– Jose Galvan


Original Website: KCRW Music Blog

Beachwood Sparks: Local Band We Love

From KCRW DJ Valida:

I was introduced to Beachwood Sparks’ Farmer Dave by a mutual friend via email in November 2010. He thought Dave would be a good addition to my Desert Nights live music series at The Standard Hollywood.

He was right. We had some sound issues and rather than to fiddle with the amps in perpetuity (which is what I’ve seen some acts do), Farmer Dave opted for a bona fide acoustic show. He directed the entire room into a crescent shape and played an intimate set, campfire style, with “random friends” joining in.

Well, I soon learned that those “random friends” were other members of Dave’s band, Beachwood Sparks. I spent some time researching the music and the West Coast surf-culture backdrop which shaped the über-chill attitudes and sound of these fun-lovin’, wave-chasin’, psych-rockin’ cruisers. That night I learned a thing or two about the history of LA surf music scene and ultimately of the band’s worldwide cult following.

(I also heard their lovely rendition of Sade’s “By Your Side” which made it on the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack)

When Farmer Dave told me that the Sparks were back in the studio and recording their first album in 11 years I was psyched (pun intended). I can only imagine how excited their older fans must be. And now that “The Tarnished Gold (out on Sup Pop next week and streaming at KCRW right now!), is finally in my hand, I predict everyone will agree it’s been well worth the wait! The album is rock solid with 13 beautifully crafted summer classics that simply ooze the hot California beach flavor.

Favorites, if I absolutely had to pick would be “Sparks Fly Again” and “Forget The Song.” Probably best enjoyed on a warm Sunday afternoon, but breezy summer nights will do just fine too. Download “Sparks Fly Again” on their Soundcloud page.

Beachwood Sparks – Sparks Fly Again by subpop

Catch Beachwood Sparks live at The Satellite on June 26.


Original Website: KCRW Music Blog