Hailing from the rain-soaked, indie folk hub that is Portland, Ore., the members of Y La Bamba are pretty far from their Latin inspirations. But this pop outfit is centered around the powerful, otherworldly vocals of Luz Elena Mendoza, and some of her main influences came from a childhood in Mexico — accordions, mariachi and Latin rhythms.
It's nice to discover a new voice on your own, but it's just as nice when it comes recommended from someone you trust. That's how Y La Bamba came my way: Los Lobos sax man and producer Steve Berlin slipped one of the band's CDs into my hand and said, "Listen to this voice." I'm glad he did, because I instantly became captivated by the sound of singer Luzelena Mendoza.