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. NPR’s Felix Contreras hit the nail on the head when discussing Y La Bamba’s stunning front-woman “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”, adding “. . . Luz Elena Mendoza stands very near the front of this pack.” On Court the Storm, these ethereal vocals combine with bittersweet melodies & 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 & 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), & 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 & 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 & Paul, whose guitar playing & vocal melody style helped the band build on the ideas first established on Lupon.
Y La Bamba also caught the ear of Grammy award-winning producer & 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 & personal experiences during the writing of the album. The outcome, Court the Storm, is rich with lush vocal harmonies & compelling musical arrangements, where Mendoza’s voice floats over brilliant chamber pop.
Luzelena Mendoza: guitar, vocals
Ben Meyercord: bass, vocals
Mike Kitson: percussion, vocals
Sean Flinn: guitar
Eric Schrepel: accordion
Paul Cameron: guitar, vocals
Scott Magee: ukelele, clarinet, percussion, vocals