Cedar Teeth, a rock band from Colton, Oregon, recorded their debut album Hoot last June with producer/musician Bill Oskay at Big Red Studios. These songs were originally written in a rustic cabin built by a member’s grandfather, situated beneath a cedar forest in the Cascade Foothills an hour outside of Portland.
According to the band, this collection of music is representative of the places from which they emerged; that is, at the margins of the city and the wilderness. That paints a nice image, but how does the music deliver?
The album opens with a high-energy rocker "Locks" that kicks in with harmonica, distorted guitars and lead vocals that project strongly throughout its chorus. "Wednesday" utilizes a guest trumpeter that plays nicely off descending electric guitar riffs creating a certain tenseness like there is a looming disaster waiting to strike before song’s end.
My favorite track "Behind the Sun" is built around a pretty guitar chord progression with violin and cymbal swells creating what is a great situation for the reverb-dipped vocals to naturally express themselves and guitar interludes to succeed at really driving the song’s emotion home. To me, it's the most self-aware offering on here in terms of an instrumentation/vocal combination that brings its atmosphere to life.
On this ten-song record, other songs that don’t work as well sometimes dim its bright spots. I point towards a lack of memorable melodies and engaging shifts between sections, vocals that feel out of place within a particular song or maybe a rock song that tries to rock but doesn't succeed in the way "Locks" naturally does. That being said the good far outweighs the bad.
Cedar Teeth show that they have some skill and I think that a collection of songs written over a period as large as five years by a new band will inevitably lack a certain lucidity. Overall, Hoot is a success and quite an enjoyable listen. The album has a lot to offer and encourage you to check it out.
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