Oh February is the latest by Portland multi-lingual folk band Y La Bamba; it’s a six-song EP filled with harmonic female-fronted, male-backed vocals. Intricate as usual, Oh February has high influence from front-woman Luz Elena Mendoza’s Latin heritage paired with she and her bandmates’ indie-folk background.
Opener and title track “Oh February” sets the tone for the EP, but the true standout is “Death on the Road”. This song not only maintains a strong, danceable shuffle-beat, it packs in both the proper levels of emotion and catchiness. Here her male counterpart also takes the lead for a focal highpoint before the band dives into an instrumental conclusion.
But it’s not just “Death on the Road” – her male counterpart takes a brief lead in “Oh February: Mad As We Are” and “Clarij” has a highly catchy melody. Each song on Oh February carries this EP forward through and through.
Over the past few years, Y La Bamba has proven to be one of the more innovative folk bands not only in Portland and throughout the United States, but in the world.
Dreamy, worldly melodies. Bewildering elements of dance-folk. A complex array of instrumentation, vocal harmonies, uniquely crafted sound unlike any you’ve heard before. All of it entangled in emotive displays of Mendoza’s Catholic upbringing, her part from this background, and a heritage split between the US and Latin America then backed by a group of phenomenal musicians.
Yes, Oh February definitely continues that tradition of innovation.
Stream: “Death on the Road” by Y La Bamba
Tender Loving Empire [EP, 2013]
1. Oh February
2. A Poet’s Tune
3. Death On The Road
5. River In Drought
6. Oh February: Mad As We Are