Watch while you read — “Robot Girlfriend” on YouTube
“Welcome to Trash City”
By Steve Graham
“You’re the greatest, and that’s one thing that I could never be,” sings Mary Claxton on “The Greatest,” a witty, salsa-influenced track in the middle of “Welcome to Trash City.” The album is the full-length debut from Mary’s new trio, Trash Cat, and the line couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mary is certainly one of the greatest in northern Colorado. She is the state director for Little Kids Rock and her “sweaty soul music” collective the Burroughs sells out frenzied, funky shows all over the state. Now she has a second band just as giddy and entertaining as the Burroughs — with songs that are at least as catchy and well-crafted.
For Trash Cat, Mary steps out from behind the drum kit to sing and play electric ukulele. Her husband Brian Claxton puts down his bass to play drums. The third Trash Cat member, Hayden Farr, plays baritone sax in both groups, but he has more chances to shine in this smaller group. Mary’s singing and songwriting also have a chance to shine.
Everything from the cartoon cover art to a campy puppet show-style music video would suggest the album is just a silly, tossed-off pop confection. The group even credits “cartoons and geek culture” as the main inspiration, and writes about robot girlfriends.
It’s all true. The album is absurd and fun, but it’s also packed with mature and solid pop songcraft. Prince could have written “Full Time Lover,” and “Straw Girl” could be a Shel track without vocal harmonies. But despite the abundant talent, Trash Cat refuses to take itself too seriously, and we could all use a light-hearted diversion these days.