Originally known as The Weather Underground, the group formed mid-2004 with singer/guitarist Harley Prechtel-Cortez, bassist Ryan Kirkpatrick, drummer Diego Guerrero and guitarist Sho Bagley. Sho left around the middle of last year, and was replaced by Edmonton native Calvin J. Love. Adding a Canadian to the mix made the band even more diverse, as they already have Guatemalan, Mexican, and Irish ancestry, which comes out at times in beautiful ways, in their sound and subject matter. The new band member, new songs, and inevitable linking to the ’60’s/’70’s leftist group (often as important to journalists as their songs) inspired them to change their name to Red Cortez. Their first show was Nov. 11, for the debut of Indie 103.1’s “Check One Tuesdays” night at the Echoplex, opening for Earlimart and Afternoons (good heavens, what a lineup).
Their music has a social relevance and an energetic urgency, with influences ranging from blues and Latin-tinged folk to 60’s garage and punk. Lyrically it’s like beat poetry, as they sing of displaced Guatemalan field workers (“Fight Song For The Desalojos”), Beat Generation Neal Cassady, day-to-day struggles and inner turmoil, introspection and solitude. They’ve been described as “rootsy gospel”, and their live shows are compared to evangelical church services. Web In Front said of their recent Taco Zone benefit at Spaceland: “the band has developed a searing tightness and live authority which, coupled with their already galvanizing intensity and collection of searching, powerful songs of introspection and revolt, has pushed them to the very forefront of la la land live acts”.
Earlier this year, Red Cortez supported Morrissey on 12 dates on his U.S. tour, and then went on to play at SXSW. This coincided with their “Hands to the Wall” EP, the first release under their new name. This autumn, along with The Henry Clay People, they’ll be supporting The Airborne Toxic Event on their U.S. tour.
Fell on the Floor – manic and urgent, biting lyrics, with the refrain that gets stuck in your head, “try to pretend you know everything don’t you, you know everything don’t you, everything don’t you”.
Trainwreck – fantastic, quirky vocalization; seriously infectious; something you want to jump up and move around to.
Letters – a song of defiance. A woman continues to receives letters from her soldier husband, even though he has died, and chooses to believe he is still alive. The stubbornness of the human spirit. Powerful.
Bird in the Hand – beautiful, introspective, heartfelt; about moving beyond life’s hardships.
All Ye People – a modern day hymn . “Come all you strangers, your life’s in danger, you’re living too close to discourse. He trembles his hand, loosens his tie, the only thing you’re killing is time… Your walls are coming down, but there’s no one around to witness it.”
as The Weather Underground
When I Was a Soldier (May 2007)
Beggar’s Ballad, How Many Operations, Nickel & Dime, Turncoat’s Palace, When I Was A Soldier
Psalms & Shanties (October 2007)
Neal Cassacy, Old Man Jude, Poete Maudite, Something’s Gotta Give, The Outsider Benches
Bird in the Hand (May 2008)
All Ye People, Bird in the Hand, Fight Song for the Desajolos, Little Sparrows in Boyle Heights, Trainwreck
as Red Cortez
Hands to the Wall (2009)
In the Fall, Fell on the Floor, Laughing Streetcar, World at Rest, All the Difference