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Tuesday May 15

Y LA BAMBA

STELTH ULVAANG

$15 Backstage / Doors at 7:30

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It's easy to talk about an artist's growth as a series of musical decisions: an expanding sonic palette, a change in mood or tempo, an escape from the trappings of genre. It's harder to talk about an artist's personal - or even spiritual - growth, because that kind of progress is hard to track. Until, that is, an album like Y La Bamba's Ojos Del Sol comes along and screams of radical transformation on every level. The Portland act's fourth offering is a sweeping, playful and vulnerable collection that's ripe with both musical and personal discovery. From the intimate, contemplative verses of the Spanish-language title track to the revelations delivered over the loping beats of "Ostrich," this is an album that's painstakingly produced while remaining emotionally raw.

Those collaborations helped Mendoza find her own voice as a more confident producer and songwriter on an album that is often a stripped-down affair. Mendoza plays guitar throughout Ojos Del Sol, and worked actively with composer Richie Greene to create a new sonic voice. Percussion from another regular Mendoza collaborator, Nick Delffs (Shaky Hands, Death Songs), is a welcome near-constant that adds depth and soul to the album. To that same end, Mendoza hand-cut stencil art pieces, which appear in Ojos Del Sol's liner notes, to pair with each new song. All of this is presented as a cohesive offering, an entry in Y La Bamba's ongoing musical conversation about community, about the self, and about survival.