Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cortez the Killer—s/t EP (self-released)
Here’s more proof that the Vancouver music scene has entered a golden era. Though they take their name from Neil Young’s slow-burning epic, Cortez the Killer’s own music is a turbulent headrush more akin to Botch, The Refused, or forefathers Fugazi and Squirrel Bait. This fiery quintet shares a member with A Ghost to Kill Again, whose debut album knocked me on my ass earlier this year. The two bands also share a fanaticism for unpredictable action rock, although Cortez favour a harder punk rock edge compared to AGTKA’s shameless prog tendencies. Where AGTKA are sweeping and emotional, Cortez are taut and pissed off on this five-song EP. Each track writhes with rapid-fire lyrics—cryptic yet clearly imaginative political tirades whose stream-of-consciousness presentation in the booklet perfectly reflects their delivery. “Cocktails Mixed by Molotov” reimagines WWII’s Eastern Front as a hockey game while “East Vancouver Heart Attack” laments those being swept aside in the name of civic development (featuring the genius line “we all desire change but have none to spare”). Musically, flurries of hepped-up Iron Maiden licks and double bass (drummer Benjie Nesdoly turns in a heroic performance) pepper the spasmodic song structures—structures that still leave room for hooks in the form of gang-shout choruses and other vocal lines that get catchier with every listen. The songs seethe with debut-release excitement, and once Cortez the Killer catch their breath and hit the studio again it’ll be interesting to hear them stretch out across a full-length release.

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