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 Post subject: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:38 am 
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Cortez, a band from Boston, has been around for a considerable time, playing in venues throughout the Boston area, while venturing out on more than one occasion to surrounding states, all the while honing their sound, attracting an ever growing following of fans, and gaining a reputation as a group that would put on a show worthy of attending, a show laden with heavy, loud, and unbelievable guitar work, driving drums, and fast, boisterous bass riffs, all accentuated with sonorous, powerful vocals.

Cortez consists of 4 members who handle the 4 main duties of classic, heavy rock. Jay Furlo deftly thumps out the bass work, while performing double duty on backing vocals. The drums are expertly handled by Jeremy Hemond, while guitars are masterfully rendered by Scott O’Dowd, as Matt Harrington belts out his high octane vocals. Together they are able to create a sound that is at once unique and refreshing, while being somewhat derivative of the very best rock of the seventies and nineties.

While it may be unusual for a debut album from a relatively obscure band to sound so incredibly professional and artistically rich, some of it must be down to the amount of time the members of Cortez have spent together playing to crowds and audiences who most likely offered immediate and insightful feedback. Whatever the contributing factors, it all worked well, allowing this group of gifted fuzz merchants to attain a high degree of accomplishment in the most important areas of what makes up a great rock album.

Always the first part on any heavy rock compilation will be the guitar work. Scott O’Dowd has on this record done a tremendous job of playing with dexterity, laying down the main, fuzzed out riffs while cranking out ‘through the roof’ solos, setting a perfect level of distortion, playing often to a slower tempo that lends itself to the powerful sound of stoner rock on many of the selections, while increasing the pace on others, often displaying that great high desert sound, or cranking out more traditional power chords when required. Through ten of the eleven songs Scott stamps his unmistakable quality on the guitar work, providing those songs with the meaty, masterful, mind blowing sounds that goes the longest distance for setting the tone of how Cortez will quite probably be known. The one exception is “Nostrum”, which foregoes Scott’s masterful guitar for a guest spot on the Hammond organ by Chris ‘Cropduster’ Coughlin.

Cortez does not disappoint when it comes to the level of quality from the drumwork by Jeremy and the massive bass of Jay, both of whom do not hide in the background with tepid renditions of the required rhythm, nor do they try to overplay the vocals and solos, but instead provide a great balance to the songs by playing with skill and passion, keeping the almost tribal tempo of these powerful and evocative songs flowing at the perfect pace.

A rare and unusual part of this band are the vocals provided by Matt, who has a very gifted set of pipes that lend themselves perfectly to the sound generated by Cortez. Matt is able to incorporate his voice into the makeup and flow of the music, making it an integral, key aspect to the wonderful sound. Not only does he display a range in his ability to sing up and down the scale, but he also knows how to do so. Often, this area can be diminished in accomplishment, robustness, or capability, but Cortez does not lack in this regard, delivering crisp, clear, soulful vocal sounds that creates a crowning achievement to the music.

-Ken Elliot
Heavy Planet.net
http://www.heavyplanet.net/2012/04/albu ... ortez.html

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:20 pm 
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From the Soda Shop:

Cortez is a Boston based 4 piece that recently released their first full length. Fuck me running. This album is impressive; from the amazing guitar shredding, monster drums and bass, amazing vocals, and a production sound that keeps it all nice and tight. I’m jealous of the Boston area motherfuckers that get to see these guys play live on a regular basis. Kick ass heavy rock and roll doom. Period.

This self titled album opens with “Johnny”, a catchy tune that thumps and pumps the adrenaline. Growly and bluesy vocals. “All Hail” comes in a little heavier and stronger. Which seems impossible after the first track. Know I am cracking a beer and head nodding…fiercely! “Until We Die” is doom heavy and fuzzy as squirrel nuts. Another great rock tune that dips into some cool psychedelic space rock.

“Ride On” sounds like it should. Rolling drums with a fuzzed out guitar that says lets smoke this bag, drink this case of beer and roll down the highway…good times will happen. Big sound with booty shaking beats that conjure up images of a night I can’t remember. But wish I could. “Wormwood” and “Nostrum” both strip it down and keeps the rock rolling.

“Beyond the Mountain” rings with the never dated sound of organs underlining bold vocals and thick ass tunes. And what rock and roll band with doom in their blood wouldn’t sing about the dark lord, “Satan.” Doom and heavy and meaty. The album ends (unfortunately) with straight up doom laden “Northlander” and heavy rock shredding “Nice Try”.

“So don’t fuck with me, in fact fuck you all” is the best line from the album that sums it up. Cortez is here to stomp around and scream. They will play dirty and loud. They will shred and lull you into a dark corner of your mind. They play insanely great heavy rock and roll doom that can not, nor will not be denied. This is one of best from 2012.

MOOD:DOOM

http://thesodashop.wordpress.com/2012/0 ... cortez-st/

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:59 pm 
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From Temple of Perdition:

A few lines about the soon to be released Double debut lp from Boston's Heavy Stoner band CORTEZ , on Bilocation rds out of Germany...
Here's a very experimented quatuor that delivers an amazing blend of 70's Heavy Rock and Doomy Stoner Rock, with an emphasis on groovy riffs and bluesy vocals; sometimes terribly heavy and shredding, sometimes more quiet and almost psychedelic, always characterized by catchy choruses and a strong musicianship. This is the perfect kind of BIG, LOUD and HEAVY stuff with a slight dirty and rebel edge that should maliciously play with your mind.

http://www.facebook.com/cortezboston
http://www.cortezboston.com/

You'll find updates on their pages when the album is exactly released, next month, then don't forget to order this godly piece HERE !

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:00 pm 
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From The Ripple Effect:

This is one of the easiest reviews I'll ever get to write. Cortez is one of my favorite contemporary bands playing mid-tempo heavy rock. They have a new DOUBLE ALBUM on 180-gram vinyl with great cover art that's worthy of acrylic on denim. All the kick ass songs I've been hearing them blast out at shows the past 4 years are now documented and now I know what the songs are actually called. It's the full meal deal! Be warned, there isn't a parental advisory sticker on the cover but there are a lot of pottymouth lyrics.

Since their 2007 EP Thunder in a Forgotten Town, Cortez switched singers and lost a guitarist but the changes only made the band stronger. Lots of bands out there are playing in a heavily Sabbath influenced realm but Cortez is one of the few to utilize more than just the usual Master/Volume 4 riff rehash. For those of us who have spent decades analyzing the Sabbath family tree know just how much killer shit there is that people tend to overlook. The reason why all those Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple records are so classic is the variety. Cortez understands that and plays the music they want to hear. I wanna hear it ,too and have been playing the hell out of this!

Album opener "Johnny" is the perfect introduction to Cortez. Guitarist Scott O'Dowd laying it down hard and heavy. Drummer Jeremy Hemond comes in with one of his patented Cozy Powell-esque drum fills to signal bassist Jay Furlo to start thudding away and singer Matt Harrington starts belting it out big time. This is a fast and catchy song that I guarantee that you will cause you to increase the volume at least twice before it's over. The rest of side one is equally killer. "All Hail" is slow and powerful while "Until We Die" has a killer trippy jam in the middle. "Ride On" is easily my favorite Cortez song. Kick ass speed limit rock with references to cheap beer and dirt weeed. You will definitely want to crank this one loud when you cruise around the parking lot looking for a spot at the Priest concert. It's too bad radio stations don't play album sides anymore, this would be a good 'un for people to get down to this summer.

And the other sides ain't bad either! Side two shows them stretching out with some psychedelic warrior jams like "Wormwood" and the Mountain-influenced "Beyond The Mountain." "Monolith" has some excellent Corky Laing style cowbell and "Immigrant Song" moans. Side three has great songs like "Nice Try" and "Northlander" but "Satan" towers high above them. If you ever wished "The Tempter" by Trouble wasn't so damn pro-Jesus, then you've got a new favorite song. Also, anyone that loves the song "Warhead" will be thrilled. Side four (!) has raw demo versions of "Johnny," "Until We Die" and "Monolith" as a nice bonus. The music's heavy and the vinyl's heavy. What more could you want?

--Woody

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:29 am 
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From Doomantia:

Cortez from Boston are back but not only have they deliver another release; it is a double album at that and it is on beautiful 180 gram vinyl complete with 80's styled heavy metal artwork. Now the début EP 'Thunder In A forgotten Town' was great enough but this début full length is something else again. Not only have they outdone everything that was on the EP but the production, the musicianship and everything else that has gone into this is simply stunning. If you like your rock, mid-tempo, sabbathian, sometimes bluesy, but with many variations so to avoid any chance of boredom setting in; then Cortez are the band for you. The only other album with these kind of tempos that comes close to this is the last Orange Goblin release but holy pope on a rope, I think Cortez has the Goblin beat. I am not comparing them to Orange Goblin either but in the mid-tempo, riff-rock up your ass stakes, this is about as good as it gets right now in 2012.

This self-titled album is big on fuzz, even bigger on grooves but is jam-packed with different variations both stylistically and in terms of arrangement. In short, this album is a wonder from start to finish. The band is a complete unit with each member delivering a dazzling display of musical excellence but Scott O’Dowd on guitar stands out for his diverse guitar work. Alongside him is Matt Harrington with amazingly charismatic vocals, Jay Furlo who dishes out mountain-sized bass playing and Jeremy Hemond dishing out pulverizing but classy drumming. Song-wise I don't know where to start. The album right from the start hooks you in with the insanely catchy 'Johnny' which is pure energetic hard rock at its most adrenaline fueled. 'All Hail' and 'Until We Die' mixed funky kind of grooves with doom riffs and enough metallic chug to make any metal-head droll in delight. Even with the dirty vocals of Matt Harrington that are being spat out of the speakers, the band still unleash some infectious melody lines and even the guitar fuzz has a catchy appeal.

Cortez seem to be able to find that middle ground between classic 70's rock, no-holds barred stoner-metal, doom and grunge while not sounding too derivative of any of these styles. Cortez also don't play by the stoner-rock rule-book too closely either. 'Nostrum' is an acoustic guitar/organ mix that is otherworldly and further showcases the rich musical tapestry that this album seems to be over-flowing with. 'Ride On' and another organ-laced track 'Beyond the Mountain' both have that timeless quality you don't hear too much of in rock music these days and note I used the word "rock" as this album goes beyond pigeon hole sub-genres. The band gets psychedelic on 'Wormwood' while 'Monolith' sounds like it could have come from a long-lost Cactus record. The side three portion of the album is flawless but one song really stands out from the pack....'Satan!' Woody from THE RIPPLE EFFECT wrote - "If you ever wished "The Tempter" by Trouble wasn't so damn pro-Jesus, then you've got a new favorite song" ........ damn right. This track is a monster cut and one of the albums many major highlights.

This is a close to flawless double album package and even though the last three tracks are demo versions of existing album tracks and are just there to make up the numbers (or so it seems); it doesn't hurt the album one little bit. By that stage of the album you feel like going back and listening to it all over again anyway. I think the main thing to say here is Cortez are not playing the kind of rock that is going to change the way anyone thinks about music; it is hardly ground-breaking stuff but there is no denying that this is just perfect for what it is and that is good enough as far as I am concerned. A complete band, a complete album - this is a stunning full length début from Cortez. ...9.5/10.

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:41 am 
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Courtesy of Mr. H.P. Taskmaster himself:

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 Cortez don’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.




The second of the three also-demo cuts on Cortez, it’s a song that, if you were to put it in a catchiest-track fight with “Johnny,” we’d all be dead before it was settled. Curiously, a spurt of acoustic guitar opens before the main chug takes hold, and though acoustics are layered in the bridge later, it’s still a strange inclusion, like Cortez wanted to issue a warning (maybe to Woody from Mighty High) that they were coming. It doesn’t matter once “Until We Die” gets going, as the groove and the structure are so fluid you’d pretty much have to press ‘stop’ to disrupt them. Furlo’s bass sounds hairier on “Ride On,” which fits the swagger in O’Dowd’s riff, and Hemond works a bit of tambourine in following the chorus as Harrington promises we won’t ever forget the good times we had. Like a lot of Cortez, it’s a song that’s remarkably unpretentious in what it’s trying to do, the heavy rocking atmosphere it’s projecting, but also like a lot of Cortez, that honesty is precisely why it works, capping side A and the first 20 minutes of the album in such a way as to set the listener up to be blindsided by the change in atmosphere that “Wormwood” signals. Once again, acoustic guitars begin, but unlike “Until We Die,” they also form the basis for the song, setting the progression that Harrington’s more subdued vocals will complement so well, and only really kicking in distortion when the chorus comes. Of course, it gets heavier in the second half, but Harrington layers in Cortez’s best harmonies in reply, adding depth to the build in the bridge before the initial verse movement reemerges momentarily and sets the tone for the cello-infused end of the song. “Beyond the Mountain” continues to expand the palette, incorporating Hammond organ from Cropduster’s Chris Coughlin and largely relying on that to distinguish it from the surrounding material before a semi-gang vocal serves as further reminder that there was probably a time at which all four of these dudes were in punk bands. In any case, the organ enhances, it doesn’t detract from the rest of what Cortez are doing, so when it comes back later in the record, it does so with welcome. First, though, side B continues with “Monolith,” the third and final of the tracks also included as a demo on the second LP.

Like its predecessors, it is unremittingly accessible and uncompromisingly heavy, showing those two doesn’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive (though they usually are), and it also returns to the more straightforward approach that “Wormwood” and “Beyond the Mountain” veered from, Furlo giving his standout contributions on bass beneath the guitar solo at the midpoint. If Cortez get indulgent anywhere on the record, it’s in that midsection jam, which winds up comprising a decent portion of the 6:52 runtime, but they bring it back for one more chorus and pick up the pace for the finish, so even then, they don’t lose sight of what they want the song to do, which – as “Nostrum” strips down the acoustic/organ base of “Wormwood” even further – is essentially act as the straightforward anchor for side B. Where “Nostrum” most pivotally differentiates itself from “Wormwood” is in that it doesn’t get heavy at the end or anywhere else, keeping a firm presence from Coughlin’s Hammond alongside the acoustics even as Furlo and Hemond come in on bass and drums. These might seem like subtle distinctions, one song getting heavy and one not, but it has a big effect on the overall mood and balance of the record. My only regret is that on the vinyl, “Nostrum” can’t lead directly into “Satan” without an LP change in between, as the two tracks work exceedingly well together on a linear digital listen. Almost as well, in fact, as Cortez are able to adjust to the slower, more traditional doom pace of the song, easily also the darkest atmospherically. The organ stays, but is mixed much lower, and when the tempo ratchets up, it’s only to be knocked even further down by the song’s lurching end. A direct flow into “Northlander” – the longest inclusion here at just over eight minutes – would seem to be a continuation of that feel, but though slow and openly-riffed, “Northlander” is more stoner than doom in its vibe, Harrington recounting battle tales over a gradual build that operates structurally on a similar line to “Satan,” but plays out more patiently. O’Dowd self-harmonizes with extra layers of guitar, and a chorus emerges that’s not as essential as some of the earlier side A cuts, perhaps, but still enough to give Cortez’s linear flow some context by the end.

By the time “Nice Try” comes on to round out the solid 59 minutes of Cortez proper, the foursome have covered a significant amount of ground while still staying within the context of their genre, whether through instrumental arrangement or what they do with their riffs. In turn, “Nice Try” follows suit with every track before it in that it has something to stand it out. O’Dowd rips a tasty solo, but he’s done that plenty at this point. Furlo and Hemond make short work of impressing rhythmically, but they’ve done that plenty as well. Where the standout moment for what’s basically the last track on the album comes is after a big slowdown. Furlo fits right into the pocket on a killer doom groove while O’Dowd squibblies out some noise until a monster riff kicks in and, finally, Harrington tops it, veering from his usual tight-push belting into genuine shouts that, in layers, take vicious hold of the chugging finale of the album. Two thuds and then they’re done, leaving one last flip of the record to bring about “Johnny,” “Until We Die” and “Monolith” for one more context-giving runthrough. I’m still back and forth on the idea of including the demos as the band does here – especially on their own vinyl side, they seem all the more a substantial portion of the record (a quarter of it) rather than what might be designated “bonus tracks” on a CD – but as someone who’s loved these songs for some time now, I’m not going to complain if Cortez want to throw them in. After all, they’ve got a half-decade of time to make up for. The good news is these songs and the rest of Cortez do that. The bad news is even though members have other bands to account for, I don’t think Cortez is going to be able to stick to their half-decade pacing in terms of putting out records.

Wait a second. That’s good news too. I guess there isn’t any bad news. So be it. Cortez finally have an LP out, and it’s a fucking beast to behold. Even though it couldn’t be my label stamp on the back of the thing, it’s a downright thrill to hear these dudes doing what they want to be doing, on their own terms and uncompromised either in approach or the sheer scope of the thing. Hard to make a collection that’s worth a five-year wait, but there you go.

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:34 am 
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From Hellride Music:

Europeans keep their Stoner Rock malleable, generally gentler and open to new ideas. Americans, more often than not, take sledge hammers and high-powered welders to their Stoner Rock. Yanks love things that go fast, are loud and like the feeling of their molars vibrating. This is especially true of bands from large, East Coast-based metropolitan areas. They are fast, loud and rude up to their eyeteeth. Try walking into Fenway Park with a Yankees jersey on and you’ll see what I mean.

Boston’s Cortez happen to be one such band doing the American style, and God love ‘em, they do it with aplomb. Cortez’s eponymously named double vinyl release is a collection of hard-hitting, fuzz-drenched songwriting propelled by the nitro-fueled pistons of an especially heavy-handed drummer. Songs like “Johnny”, “All Hail”, “Northlander” and especially ‘going to a show’ anthem “Ride On” could result in fist-sized dents in the roof of your automobile as you rock along with the Cortez crew. They give their songs just enough standard rock n’ roll sensibilities to keep them from crossing the wire into Heavy Metal territory. Although to the latter point, “Satan” – a stylistic outlier for the band – could be this year’s best Doom Metal song. At least one as translated by a hard-stompin’ Stoner Rock band.

There are one or two softer songs on Cortez’s debut, but I’d be less than honest if I said this is where the band excelled. Seems more like filler to break up two records worth of cochlea crushing. If you consider that last side of the 2nd record is all demo tracks – nice to have, but not essential - I think with some editing the band could have whittled this down to a solid single LP. Could have saved everyone some money.

Cortez has a huge asset in vocalist Matt Harrington. He comes from the John Garcia / Harry “Hangnail” Armstrong “Power Throat” school of ‘sing from your toenails on up’. Regular readers of my reviews know that I’m a bit queer for good, strong vocals in rock n’ roll. That’s right, I walk a little lighter in the loafers after rocking to a band whose singer knows how to deliver the load from the lungs. There’s no three dollar bill in my pocket, but Harrington has a solid set of pipes tailor-made for driving heavy rock. In the Crowlian-sense, he’s recognized his true will and we're all better for it.

So us Ugly Americans torch out another shit-heavy version of Stoner Rock. The pile of like-minded music is a mile high by now, but I’ll tell you Cortez sure sounds good beating the crud out of the company car speakers stuck on the 405 South in rush hour. Their ability to bang-out top shelf riff-oriented, fuzz-lathered rock n’ roll is unquestionable. Could they have edited down a double album’s worth of material into a single record? Yes, I do believe so, but if that’s the only thing I can think of to criticize, that certainly isn’t the worse thing in the world. Cortez is good music emanating from a city noted less for its heavy music scene than for the number of assholes it produces per square mile. That’s a complement coming from a laid back West Coast guy like me.

-Chris Barnes

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 Post subject: Re: Cortez - Cortez
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:19 pm 
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From Cosmic Lava:

Still fresh in my mind is 'Thunder In A Forgotten Town' (review here), which was the debut MCD of Boston's CORTEZ. That release was more than 4 years ago and thereafter CORTEZ vanished from the scene. Or I just lost sight of them. Such as pity, because I liked their bluesy, groove-laden hard rock and they had written some very good tunes. But sometimes the unexpected happens, which in the case of CORTEZ means that they are back with a new double album, released by Bilocation Records in 2012. This is also the vinyl debut for singer Matt Harrington who joined the band in 2009, but otherwise not much has changed and I am pleased about that. One thing which is immidiately obvious, is the fact, that CORTEZ have been merged into one hard rockin' unit over the last years.

The raspy yet soulful voice of Matt Harrington is a perfect match for the thunderous heavy rock assault, especially since he has a good vocal range. Everything fits together seamlessly and CORTEZ roars through this album with the power of a 71' Dodge Charger. Even in their quieter, emotive moments, the four guys are bursting with energy. The crunchy riffs are soaked with fuzz and sweat, but great value is also placed on songs that are straight to the point with catchy hooklines and forceful grooves. Blues, metal and 1970's heavy rock are an equal part in CORTEZ' tasteful blend, and they succeed in creating a varied record that never runs out of good ideas. They go from a aggressive rockers like 'All Hail' to slower more melancholic songs like 'Wormwood' where suddenly an additional acoustic guitar appears. 'Beyond The Mountain' evokes a 1970's feeling due to the Hammond organ, and I can confirm that it sounds pretty cool.

With 'Nostrum', CORTEZ combine the acoustic guitar with organ sounds and completely refrain from using electric guitars. This leads to the most atmospheric track on this album and offers a bit of tranquillity within all the riff-based heaviness. Much different is 'Northlander' where CORTEZ wallow in doom and gloom whereas 'Nice Try' returns back to a powerful mid-tempo groove. The fourth side of this double vinyl set includes the 2009 demo which contains rougher versions of 'Johnny,' 'Until We Die' and 'Monolith'. It's nice to compare them with the newer versions on this album, but I think that only die-hard fans of CORTEZ will be happy about the demo. For my part, I would have liked more new songs but, hey, you can't have everything. In summary, this is a musically strong and wholly enjoyable album that features a very energetic performance and plenty of great tracks. Welcome back, CORTEZ!
(KK)

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