Y La Bamba are a Portland band who can claim The Decemberists Chris Funk as a fan. He produced their new LP Lupon. Their video for "Juniper" serves as a nice, cinematic introduction to their freak folking ways.
With their new album, Court the Storm, Portland OR's Y La Bamba return with a haunting second full-length of delicately crafted art folk. "The voice is most effective when it's indistinguishable from the emotion of the lyric as well as the drama of the rhythm and chords" says NPR's Felix Contreras when discussing Y La Bamba's stunning front-woman, adding "...Luz Elena Mendoza stands very near the front of this pack." On Court the Storm, these ethereal vocals combine with bittersweet melodies and thrumming Latin-inspired rhythms to form an indie pop masterpiece.
Luzelena Mendoza's songs draw from her strict Catholic upbringing as an only daughter of a Mexican immigrant and the vocal harmonies of the Latin music she grew up around. Extremely sick after returning from a spiritual quest in India, Luzelena took in a white six-toed cat to keep her company as she fought to regain her physical, emotional and spiritual health. She christened her new feline companion Bamba, a name that she incorporated into a moniker she used for a batch of lo-fi home recordings and performances at open mic nights.
Mendoza quickly captivated the attention of a group of musicians, including current Y La Bamba members Michael Kitson (percussion), Eric Schrepel (accordion), and Ben Meyercord (bass). Impressed by Y La Bamba, Chris Funk of The Decemberists offered his production skills pro bono for the band's proper debut album, Lupon. Percussionist Scott Magee and guitarist Paul Cameron would later join soon after the recording of Lupon. Much of the eclectic new Court the Storm was written during a winter-born collaborative process between Luzelena and Paul, whose guitar playing and vocal melody style helped the band build on the ideas first established on Lupon.
The 2010 release of their debut on Tender Loving Empire saw critical praise from NPR, Bust, Filter, and The Fader, among others, and had Y La Bamba touring with bands like Horse Feathers, Typhoon, and Neko Case (who asked the band to open for her on east and west coast tour dates, and leant her vocals to the title track of Court The Storm after joining the ranks of listeners charmed by the band when she heard their album playing at their labels store/headquarters in downtown Portland).
Y La Bamba also caught the ear of Grammy award-winning producer and Los Lobos member, Steve Berlin, who offered to produce the band's follow- up. Berlin's production style completed the band's vision of mariachi-inspired indie folk. With four of the eleven songs in Spanish, Luz embraced her heritage and personal experiences during the writing of the album. The outcome, Court the Storm, is rich with lush vocal harmonies and compelling musical arrangements, where Mendozas voice floats over brilliant chamber pop.