Cedar Teeth didn’t plan to start a band around the campfires that lit up their Oregon youths in the forests of the Cascade foothills that form a clear-cut divide between Portland and the surrounding wilderness. The genre bending roots troupe owe their inception to bassist Rayson Gordon, who forged a musical link between friends and provided their secret headquarters: a cedar shed on his grandparents’ 40 acre forestland on Green Mountain Road. In their new practice space, campfire tunes turned into intricate songwriting and friendships became a partnership.
Following their 2014 debut album, Hoot, Cedar Teeth built their reputation on stage, whether at festivals like Summer Meltdown and Wildwood, or at clubs throughout the Pacific NW, where they have joined bands like Fruition, Shook Twins, Motopony, Hot Buttered Rum, and Magic Giant.
On their 2017 EP, Farewell To Green Mountain, Cedar Teeth explore everything from indie rock and grunge to psych folk and bluegrass, reflecting the diversity inspired by their lives on the dividing line of societal opposites. Produced by Larry Crane (Elliot Smith, The Decemberists), the EP leans heavily on backwood harmony, allowing complex song structures and off-kilter melodies to support tales of love and war and the moments in between. In one sense, Farewell to Green Mountain is a goodbye to both their formative practice space and the vanishing wilderness and community they knew growing up; a sense of loss that makes its way into songs such as “Cancer” and “Mama’s Mourning”. But then again, a voice of defiance emerges in songs like “Winter” and “Echoes Grounding”, testaments to renewal and resilience in the face of the dying light.
While their range of sonic interests and influences defy easy classification, it is difficult not to hear Levon Helm, Rick Danko and company, The Band, hollering from the grave. Indeed, imagery reflecting organic flesh and bone, mingling with gnarled old-growth roots music, is what this band is all about. Call ‘em whatever you like: they are harmonizers and collaborators and Cedar Teeth won’t let the fire go out.