Theodore Treehouse

Theodore Treehouse
Theodore Treehouse

If the Portland indie-rock band Phantom Buffalo collectively gave birth to a child, that kid would be Theodore Treehouse.  Like the Buffalo boys, this quartet makes highly contagious indie-rock rooted in roots music. They’re a little younger, slightly wilder and often more rockin’.

The band’s been playing together for about three and a half years now. Their late 2010 debut, Mercury: Closest to the Sun, was fantastic — 11 catchy tracks wrapped around an intergalactic interlude. This summer they’re back with a self-titled EP. The six songs here are more disciplined and subtly crafted than their predecessors, but maintain the energy and joie de vivre that won me over two years ago.

Guitarist and vocalist Ian Ferrel has an expressive rubber band of a voice. He simpers and screams, punctuating his lyrics with yelps and yells that sound spontaneous but must be planned (that’s art, kid). The rest of the band — bassist Asher Platts, drummer Dylan Verner and multi-instrumentalist Sam Chandler — is adept at building these songs up, letting them fall apart, and then rebuilding with even stronger material.

“Give Your Love Away” does this magnificently, shifting from ragged rock into a symphonic mid section that works sonic wonders. “Headlights” soon breaks free of its lethargic intro and starts chugging. At its apex it makes you let loose a wooo! along with the band.

That’s the real charm here. Like Phish, Ferrel and company are creating complex music capable of pleasing the crowd. The sing-along sections and climaxes are like little gifts for the listener. I’ll be unwrapping this one all summer.

—   Chris Busby

You can hear the entire album at

[music album=11580]