Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bilocation Records, which previously handled the 2LP issue of Cortez‘s Cortezfull-length (review here), has released a CD of the album, and well, you’re probably going to want to check it out. The maddeningly catchy Boston-based heavy rockers’ debut album was a long time in the making, and every bit worth the wait. Cortez also still have copies of the vinyl edition (though very few) available through their Bandcamp, and if you haven’t actually heard the record, I grabbed the player so you can check it out below:
The self titled Cortez album which was released on double vinyl LP in 2012 has been released on CD viaBilocation Records. The CD contains and 8 page booklet and artwork by Alexander Von Wieding. It is available via our Bandcamp page for $12.00 plus shipping. The track-listing is:
1. Johnny 2. All Hail 3. Until We Die 4. Ride On 5. Wormwood 6. Beyond The Mountain 7. Monolith 8. Nostrum 9. Satan 10. Northlander 11. Nice Try
Posted in Reviews on May 31st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A little while back, guitarist Scott O’Dowd of Allston, Massachusetts, rockers Cortez hit me up for a band bio. The record, self-titled, came out on Bilocation just this very week, and of course, I said I was glad to write up a history of the band. I remember when they put out their 2007 Thunder in a Forgotten Town EP on Buzzville, and we’d played shows together periodically over the years, so as Cortez began to really take shape as a band – and especially after vocalist Matt Harrington came aboard in 2009 – it was exciting to think of their first album finally coming out. Songs like “Johnny,” “Until We Die” and the C.O.C.-esque riffing of “Monolith” were mainstays of their live set, and the demo they cut of that material was stellar. We’d talked about maybe doing a release via The Maple Forum on CD before I decided to draw back on that side of the site, and as I listen now to Cortez – a massive gatefold 2LP release with cover art by Alexander von Wieding that includes that 2009 demo as side D – I really do think it’s for the best that it ended up as a record. While my general preference is for shorter releases that, like a short story, can be absorbed in a single sitting, Cortez simply have more ground to cover. Ostensibly, this is their full-length debut, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a follow-up to the EP, one that’s nearly five years in the making and one that has to do the work of establishing Cortez not only as a fresh act in Boston’s admirable heavy rock scene, but also a band who’ve put that half-decade since their last offering to good use in terms of development and creative personality. That’s a lot to ask of a 40-minute album, or even a 50-minute album. Cortez’s Cortez, including the demo, tops out at 75 minutes, and that proves to be more than enough time to get the job done.
In that span, all four members – O’Dowd, Harrington, bassist Jay Furlo and drummer Jeremy Hemond – distinguish themselves, but most importantly, Cortez shines as a unit, and whether it’s the melodic complexity of a track like “Wormwood” or the doomed atmospheric reveling accomplished by the later “Satan,” their songwriting sensibility is never lost. There’s a clear allegiance to riff rock – that’s not to say “stoner rock,” though I think that’s part of their scope as well – but Harrington soulfully belts out these tracks in a manner that clearly indicates that though he’s a more than capable frontman, it’s not about any single person in the band, but about the group working together toward a shared whole. Solos are taken, to be sure – O’Dowd is a classy player and that shines through no matter how fuzzed out the material gets – but one gets no sense of ego bleeding through Cortez’s straightforward arrangements. With a crisp New Alliance Audio production and mix from Ethan Dussault, the songs prove to be their own greatest strength, and it’s not just the riff, or the bassline (though Furlo kills it in the rhythm section with Hemond, crafting the stomp that makes the back end of second track “All Hail” so effective), or the drums or the vocals. It’s how all of it works together. That might be the most modern aspect of their approach, clearly grown out of a Boston punker/hardcore ideology – “no rock stars” – but it’s well met by their classic rock structures and heavier leanings. Even at his roughest (i.e. even on those demos), Harrington is never separated entirely from a melody, and his professionalism is wonderfully matched in the presentation of the album’s 11 central cuts.
What Cortezdon’t do, however, is fuck around. There are very few ethics to which I apply universal favor, and strong songwriting is one of them. Cortez make songwriting sound innate, effortless, like the “Helter Skelter”-referential chorus that immediately plasters “Johnny” on the lining of the cerebral cortex like it’s a gig flyer is just what the band does every day after work. As the opener, “Johnny” emphasizes many of the album’s best aspects. It is impeccably constructed, briskly performed and crisply presented, and that remains a thread that runs all the way through to pre-demo closer “Nice Try.” A lyrical narrative of dudely heartbreak is met by undeniable groove, and Harrington’s melodies are infectious alongside O’Dowd’s riffing. It’s especially interesting to listen to “Johnny” as the first of the three demo tracks, because as they appear in order of “Johnny,” “Until We Die” and “Monolith,” that’s also how they come up on the record – just with other songs in between. So it’s probably something you might recognize your second time through or on some subsequent listen, but those songs sort of wind up being anchors for the rest of the material. “All Hail,” which divides “Johnny” and “Until We Die” on Cortez-proper, marries an epic intro to a driving guitar-led central figure – Hemond (also of Roadsaw and also in Black Thai with O’Dowd) gives an especially rousing performance here to provide early indication of the diverse style in his play that manages never to lose accessibility despite being technically complex, particularly in the fills – and shifts with about two of its total five minutes left to the aforementioned stomp, changing tempo some but mostly relying on Hemond easing off on the drums and opening the groove up some to match the guitars and bass. That sets a high expectation, but “Until We Die” quickly outdoes it.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A little known band from California once said that, “five years is forever,” and though that band was wrong about many, many things, they were right on that one. Fortunately, Allston, Massachusetts, heavy rockers Cortez are making up for lost time. Their new full-length, Cortez, will be released as a 14-song double-LP on Bilocation Records next month.
The album follows the Buzzville Records EP, Thunder in a Forgotten Town, which was released in 2007. True, members of Cortez play in Roadsaw, Black Thai and other outfits, but even so, it’s hard to keep momentum going off an EP for half a decade. Periodic shows and regional tours in the Northeast US have helped, but there’s no denying that Cortez are overdue for an album. I think the band would probably be the first to say it.
So what we have, then, in Cortez‘s Cortez is a long, long awaited release of classic-minded heavy rock songwriting. You got your ’70s, you got your ’90s and you get your ’10s from how the two are combined. Cortez‘s combination of riffs and soul has only grown in potency since Thunder in a Forgotten Town, and Cortez, the album, shows that quality songwriting is ultimately timeless. Catchy is catchy, whatever year it happens to be.
In that regard, and as a fan of the band, it’s my honor to premiere the first studio-recorded audio from Cortez in five years. They hand-picked the song “Johnny,” which opens the album, and I probably would have chosen the same one, since it’s a case of the band rocking at their unpretentious best on a song that’s as well-performed as it is immediately memorable. In other words, I dig it and I hope you do too.
Please enjoy “Johnny” on the player below, followed by some info about the band and the album:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Cortez is vocalist Matt Harrington, guitarist Scott O’Dowd, bassist Jay Furlo and drummer Jeremy Hemond. The album Cortez will be released on Bilocation Records as a 2LP, features artwork by Alexander Von Wieding and was recorded by Ethan Dussault at New Alliance Audio in Cambridge, MA. For more on the band and updates on the release, check out their Thee Facebooks or the label’s website.
Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Friday night, man. Traditionally you’re supposed to go out after work, get fucked up, party your ass off and all the rest of it. All I want to do on a Friday night is sleep. And usually, that’s how it goes. But when Cortez is making the trip down from Boston and hooking up with Mighty High for a show in Brooklyn that’s not even in the middle of hang-yourself Williamsburg, well, showing up is the thing to do. So it’s the thing I did.
Last time I was at Hank’s Saloon was just over a year ago, to see Black Thai (which boasts two members of Cortez in its ranks) hit up a gig with Thinning the Herd, and as low key as that was, I knew that with Mighty High on the bill, good times were bound to be had. When I rolled in, there was what had previously been described to me as an “alt country” act on the stage. It was a little white girl, soul-singing like little white girls do, accompanied by some dude who seems to have found Les Claypool‘s tailor on guitar. Striped pants, silly hat, and — inevitably, predictably, excruciatingly — a kazoo. Hell, it was bound to happen, but they were about half done when I got there, so it could’ve been worse. They covered Spinal Tap‘s “Gimme Some Money,” and that was a fun reference.
They’d been put on the bill by the venue, which as I understand it, is for sale. Bar-ownership being something of a long-term fantasy of mine, as Cortez set up their gear on the small stage, I looked up at the ceiling beams, down at the dirty floor, over at the walls full of pictures and stickers and post-its with cabbie phone numbers. I inhaled the smell of mold and thought to myself, “Yeah, I could do this.” The Patient Mrs., joining me for the night on the town, seemed less thrilled at the notion.
Cortez frontman Matt Harrington would soon blow out the Hank’s P.A., but as soon as they got going, they were on the ball. They hit up a few songs from their forthcoming self-titled (vinyl master is on the way, reportedly), including highlights “Monolith,” “Johnny” and the catchy “Until We Die,” with bassist Jay Furlo adding backups to Harrington‘s melodies while Scott O’Dowd, aka Scotty Fuse, let fly carefully constructed riffs and drummer Jeremy Hemond (also of Roadsaw and Black Thai) managed to do some equipment damage of his own. I can’t remember ever seeing him play that he didn’t require a new snare at some point in the set, and Hank’s was no exception.
They rocked in spite of any and all technical difficulties, and much as I’d hoped, the night played out as sans-bullshit as possible. All I wanted was a rock show with some good bands, good people, decently-priced beer and no Friday night fashion show, and that’s basically what I got. Mighty High‘s boogiethrash blend of Slayer, Black Flag, Motörhead, Sabbath and any number of ’70s obscurities I’m not qualified to name was the perfect finale. Decked out in a Foghat Live t-shirt, guitarist/vocalist Chris “Woody High” MacDermott introduced the native Brooklynite act by saying, “We’re The James Gang from Ohio,” and it only got better from there.
The thing about Mighty High, though, is that as much as songs like “Chemical Warpigs” (a highlight) “I Don’t Wanna Listen to Yes” (another highlight) and “Breakin’ Shit” (always a highlight) are about getting high and having fun, they’re also maddeningly good. Mighty High hit like a megaphone yelling at stoner rock to get its head out of its ass, but they have the chops musically to back it up. I’m not going to say they were perfect up there, but even where they stumbled, they did it right, guitarist Kevin Overdose, drummer Jesse D’Stills and bassist Labatts Santoro seeming to take the instruction to heart as Woody led the way through the opening cover of “Kick out the Jams.”
When they were done, I walked out with the “Hands Up!” chorus still in my head, where it stayed for much of the weekend, and — now that I’m thinking about it again — remains. The Patient Mrs. had already filled her rock quota for the evening and retired to the car, so I said some quick goodnights and we headed back to Jersey, where I happily checked off the first of three shows in a row and fulfilled my Friday destiny by crashing out as quickly as possible. Good fun.
Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’ve never been, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is to hipsters what the Ent forest is to orcs. They seem to just spring up out of the ground. It’s a nonstop fashion show of apathy, misdirected misogynist irony, and expensive beer. Good sushi, but you pay for it in more than just dollars. It’s like a theme park. Hipster Disneyland.
Nonetheless, for Mighty High, Cortez and The Crimson Electric, I’d gladly hoist my fat ass off the couch to brave such unwelcoming climes. Some band no one ever heard of opened the show at The Charleston, to which I’d only been once prior, to see Kings Destroy. It was now as it was a couple months ago: a basement with surprisingly good sound. Kind of like Lit Lounge in that way, but if dank and moist isn’t your thing, you probably weren’t going to the show anyway.
Mighty High gave the Stooges a stoner boot to the ass, debuting their new lineup, vocalist/guitarist Woody High and drummer Jesse D’Stills joined by new guitarist Kevin Overdose and bass player Labatts Santoro. The foursome ran through probably twice as many songs as anyone else played that night, hitting high marks with “Cable TV Eye,” “Breakin’ Shit” and the “prog rock epic,” “Yes Sucks.” It was the first time I’d ever seen them, and they didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Their music and their presentation is completely without pretense. They don’t dress up, don’t bullshit around, just play their songs and have a good time. Amazing that in a borough so full of assholes, there’s any room on the other end of the spectrum for Mighty High.
Loud in that basement, too. Kevin Overdose and Woody High split some vocal duties, but for the most part it was straight-ahead motion the whole time. And there was some motion. They had the best crowd of the night (being the hometown heroes) and you just can’t watch them and not enjoy yourself if you have anything even close to a sense of humor. This won’t be the last set of theirs I catch.
It had been a while since I’d seen Boston‘s Cortez — long enough for drummer Jeremy Hemond (also of Roadsaw) to get a haircut, anyway — and as always, it was a pleasure. Not only are they some of the nicest guys on earth, but they riff with an energy and crispness that makes me think of what it must have been like to see stoner rock when stoner rock was young. Their sound and style is more solid than ever, and as they said a new album was in the works, I can’t wait to hear it. I wonder who’s going to put it out…
They put a couple older songs in the mix, among them “Stone the Bastards” from the 2007 Thunder in a Forgotten Town EP, which I managed to capture for the video you can see below. It was kind of dark, but I think you can still get the idea. Scotty Fuse‘s riffs, Hemond‘s giant cymbals, Matt Harrington‘s vocals and Jay‘s bass all managed to balance out pretty well down there (though admittedly, there’s an awful lot of cymbal on that video), and their set, as always, was a highlight of the night.
The Crimson Electric were down a bass player as of about two weeks ago, and they struggled some because of it. Their solution to the issue was to run one of the guitars through a bass and guitar cabinet both to fill out the low end, and it actually worked pretty well to thicken the sound, but there were some technical issues that took some momentum out of their set. I don’t doubt they did the best they could with what they had, and they still rocked, so I’m certainly not about to complain.
That said, being the last band on stage at a show like that has one distinct disadvantage: you’ve already done a full night’s drinking when you start, and you still have to get through the material. There was some shit-talking from the stage and it very nearly crossed the fine line between friendly joshing and dickery, but everyone in the crowd, myself included, knew the deal, and at the end of the show, The Crimson Electric still sounded killer. I remembered how great they were at last year’s Stoner Hands of Doom in Maryland, and I’m sure once they get their lineup nailed down again they’ll have no trouble getting back there.
I got back to my humble river valley shortly after three and was up for maybe another hour. I’d managed (somehow) to stay sober, though I’d swear I saw some dudes taking beers out of their socks at the club. A little recession-special espionage. You do what you have to, I guess.
Good people, good tunes, good times. It’s nights like this, when the “scene” and the inherent politics thereof stay at the bar upstairs, that remind me why I love this music so much.
I don’t usually like to repost news from StonerRock.com, since I imagine there’s significant overlap between the people who visit this site and that one, but hey man, I like Cortez, and after listening to it for free on Bandcamp, I like their Demo 2009 three-song release, so I figure why not post the thing here for everyone else to enjoy too? Good stuff. Hope you dig it:
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
My first question for Cortez guitarist Scotty Fuse when I saw the below press release was, “Does the album have a title yet?” Nope, it doesn’t. But we do get some song titles, and anything involving stoner rock and monoliths is okay by me. Here’s the update from the band:
Massachusetts stoner/doom metallers Cortez have entered New Alliance Audio (Scissorfight, Cave In, Keelhaul, Trap Them, The Red Chord) in Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin recording material for its second album with engineer Ethan Dussault. Song titles set to appear on the CD include “Monolith,” “Northlander,” and “Beyond the Mountain.” This will be the first recording to feature vocalist Matt Harrington.
Cortez‘s latest album, Thunder in a Forgotten Town, was released in 2006 via Buzzville Records.
Below is a live video from September 2009 of Cortez performing “Monolith” at the Stoner Hands of Doom Festival in Frederick, Maryland.
Posted in On the Radar on December 1st, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sometimes these things just fall into your lap. My first encounter with Allston, MA‘s Black Thai came via the news that they’re recording a new three-song demo at the famed New Alliance EastStudios. After seeing they were from Allston, I figured a safe bet was that at least one member of Cortez current or former was involved with Black Thai, and wouldn’t you know, guitarist Scotty Fuse is right in there along with We’re all Gonna Die vocalist/guitarist Jim Healy.
The four-piece is rounded out by bassist Cory Cocomazzi and drummer Kyle Rasmussen, and they play riff-led Southern rock/metal that’s more or less unpretentious stoner with a heavier edge. Judging by the two tracks on their MySpace (presented in fancypants widget form below), Black Thai are starting at a pretty good point when it comes to developing their sound. “Satan’s Toolshed,” at a hefty 7:42, doesn’t get boring or lose its edge, which is an accomplishment for a new band even if one made up of experienced players.
If River City Revival-era Alabama Thunderpussy had been from Massachusetts, they might sound something like Black Thai. Healy‘s vocals could probably come down a notch in their next mixing session (I’m a fan of low-mixed vocals in general and will allow this affects my judgment of such things), but if “Satan’s Toolshed” and “The Ladder” are anything to go by, these dudes are well worth keeping on the radar for when that next demo shows up.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know why Boston rockers Cortez aren’t signed to Small Stone, especially with the Roadsaw connection (drummer Jeremy Hemond splits his time in both bands). Their debut EP, Thunder in a Forgotten Town, was killer, they rule live and if their recently-posted re-recording of the track “The High Life” is any indicator, they’re better than ever with Matt Harrington on vocals. They’ve got the song up on their MySpace for you to check out, so have at it. Here’s some PR wire info to accompany:
After a much talked about performance at this years Stoner Hands of Doom festival, Boston stoner rock shamans, Cortez have recorded a brand new version of their much revered track “The High Life.” This marks the first official recording to feature new vocalist, Matt Harrington. Recorded at the infamous New Alliance Studios, the re-recorded track is slated for inclusion on a soon to be disclosed soundtrack.
Currently Cortez is playing select live dates while focusing on preproduction work for their highly anticipated follow-up to Thunder in a Forgotten Town.
Posted in Reviews on August 26th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was a three-night tour and I, being a colonel among the weekend warriors, missed Friday night in Boston, but hopefully made up for it Saturday and Sunday in Maryland and Connecticut, respectively. Afforded a chance to catch the likes of Cortez, Ichabod and When the Deadbolt Breaks live two nights in a row, it was not an opportunity I was going to pass on. They called it the Amped for the End tour. Pristina was on the bill as well, but fuck Pristina. They blew Saturday, played their wannabe Meshuggahcore first and then split before the next band even went on. It’s not there were so many people there; it was basically the bands playing to each other and a few sporadic others. Splitting was a dick move.
Sunday they didn’t even show up. They live in Connecticut. Screw those guys. Who names a record Boner Jams?
The other three bands, by contrast, were killer. The sound at Krug’s Place in Frederick (where Stoner Hands of Doom X will be held next weekend) was a little muddy, but everyone seemed to be having a good time anyway, and it’s not like Deadbolt was about to break out the catchy corporate number that required absolute clarity. This is doom. Muddy works. It was clearer at the El n Gee in scenic New London the next night anyway, so in watching the three bands, you got a taste of both worlds.