Y La Bamba
Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet.
The record exists in the post-2016 landscape of a national identity crisis, and Mendoza explores what it means to be a Mexican American woman by leading us through places we are afraid to go. Mujeresventures in to the discomfort of the stories we tell ourselves. Those of our past, our futures. We all have these stories somewhere inside of us, but with Y La Bamba, Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism.
“Music is an extension of everything I have inside. It’s how I emote,” Mendoza says. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral, spiritual journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. Mendoza’s experience of childhood summers in the San Joaquin Valley listening to mariachi, of being raised strict Catholic by immigrant parents, of being a woman having to prove herself to the boys, paints strokes of both melancholy and healing on the tracks. “From the way that my family struggles, to the way they shoot the shit… it’s so different from whiteness,” Mendoza says. “It’s a different dimension.”
Y La Bamba exists in the dimension of the Mexican American imagination: somewhere cynical and optimistic at the same time. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without tokenization? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story.
Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.
Radio Jarocho plays the rowdy, upbeat, and at times melancholic music of the countryside of Veracruz, Mexico, and has been mixing it with the sounds of New York’s urban life for over ten years. Having recently joined forces with son jarocho legend Zenen Zeferino, they deliver performances that are passionate, energetic, and true to the roots of the genre. Radio Jarocho & Zenen Zeferino have played concerts at festivals and venues in the east coast, including Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Bowl, Joe’s Pub, La Casita at Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge, Celebrate Mexico Now! and Celebrate Brooklyn. They released “Rios de Norte y Sur”, their first studio production together, in May of 2018. With this album, Radio Jarocho & Zenen Zeferino celebrate the music that unites Veracruz and New York, Mexico and the United States through original songs and new arrangements for old jarocho tunes, offering a modern take on a traditional genre by fusing it with sounds that have become part of New York City’s musical fabric.
Recorded and mixed by Alex Venguer and mastered by Oscar Zambrano, with cover art by Víctor Zuñiga, “Ríos de Norte y Sur” features tracks that in ways speak to our experience as immigrants in the US and to the nostalgia and love we have for our roots and origins. We speak about the bodies of water that unite New York and Veracruz, and that know no borders, walls or frontiers.
Ani Cordero is a passionate singer, songwriter, drummer, guitarist, and Latin American music researcher living in NYC. In 2014, Ani released an album entitled "Recordar" ("Remember"), which re-imagined songs by influential Latin American songwriters of the turbulent "Nueva Cancion" era, including Victor Jara, Violeta Parra, Chavela Vargas, and Atahualpa Yupanqui. Her critically-acclaimed album received accolades from NPR's All Things Considered, Alt-Latino, and Soundcheck, as well as, Billboard, USA Today, PRI The World, Brooklyn Vegan, BUST, Remezcla, and more.
Following the success of "Recordar," Ani has written a new album of her own political protest and love songs called "Querido Mundo" ("Dear World"). The album is Ani's love letter to a complicated world and addresses several themes including immigration, Black Lives Matter, Feminism, and government corruption. The songs feature heavy percussion, sing-along choruses and strong lyrics that aim to inspire political resistance and support for social justice.
Even before "Recordar," Ani was a well-regarded player in the World Music scene: She was recently the touring drummer for the legendary Os Mutantes, as well as a founding member of the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera. In the early 2000s, Ani led her own bilingual art rock band, Cordero who released such Feminist anthems such as “Vamos Nenas,” and “Matadora,” on Chicago’s beloved Bloodshot Records and Amy Ray’s (Indigo Girls) label, Daemon Records.
Raised in Atlanta by Puerto Rican parents, Ani spent her childhood traveling between Atlanta and San Juan. Her parents are also musicians who performed and recorded with the traditional folkloric music group "Tuna de La Universidad de Puerto Rico" in their college days.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Ani records and performs with longtime collaborators, Erich Hubner (Man or Astroman) on guitar and bass, Eileen Willis (Pistolera) on accordion and bass, and Scott Kettner (Nation Beat) on drums.