May Day Music Fest Day 4 - Y La Bamba

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 label's 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 Mendoza's voice floats over brilliant chamber pop.

Old Light

Old Light is Patrick Finn, Scott DeMay, Garth Klippert, and Todd Roper.

Old Light plays loud, bad rock music. Old Light sings pretty, catchy melodies.
Disco oblivion, Metal love, Rock ‘n’ roll transcendence, Pop computers, Space black holes, Jazz death.

No one wants to listen to old men talk about themselves.

In an age of fleeting success and temporary notions, Chris Pureka is an artist of substance, armed with an eye for detail and an emotional intelligence that can switch from withering to compelling with a subtle inflection. Her third studio album, How I Learned To See In the Dark, adds bold new elements to the base she has built over her six-year career. From non-traditional percussion, to lyrical abstraction, to a new unrestrained vocal quality, to Pureka's choice of co-producer (longtime friend Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YaRds), this record signals an exploration of broader musical soundscapes.

While maintaining the unique alchemy of longing, loss and hope Pureka sets to music, there is a sonic adventurism on How I Learned to See in the Dark that marks a new stage in Pureka's musical evolution. Even from the first notes of the album's opening track, "Wrecking Ball", longtime fans and the newly converted will sense that How I Learned To See In The Dark is a bigger album, deeper and more vast than anything she's released to date. "I wanted it to feel different right away," Pureka explains. "And 'Wrecking Ball' exemplifies many of the elements that are different from the last record." That difference is a newfound edginess, coupled with a more abstract sound: there is a musical depth and complexity that shines through each track, all the while maintaining the space and creative instrumentation Pureka is known for. Standout track, "Landlocked", showcases Pureka's technical prowess with the finger-picking style that won her so many accolades on Dryland while "Broken Clock" is the rhythm driven, heavy hitter bound to be on your next break up mix. "Wrecking Ball" mixes a playful quirkiness in production with an underlying paced anger, laced with twangs of percussive guitar. Finally, album closer, "August 28th" is the deep breath following the emotional tumult that precedes it – a return to quiet contemplation for the writer and the listener: "I think the whole world needs a shoeshine/I think we're all living proof."

$15-$50

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May Day Music Fest Day 4 - Y La Bamba with Old Light, Chris Pureka

Saturday, May 4 · 7:30 PM at Alhambra Theatre