Mt. Trashmore
Clown Ethics Recordings

Chicago math rockers T’bone make complex grooves for the kids who just barely passed Algebra II. Mt. Trashmore tracks tend to fall into one of two categories: pulsating jams with fairly conventional structures and completely or largely instrumental exercises punctuated with bellowed non-sequiturs.  The trio–Ed Bornstein on drums, Pat McPartland on guitar, and Leland Meiners on bass–pack a lot of ideas into a song, time signature and key changes abound, but they went for the populist jugular on the lyrics. Just get an earfull of the cock-rock riffage and chanted insults in “Doored by a Cop.” The slippery swagger of the album’s second cut bolsters the silly anti-police rhetoric, gives the hollered, taunting lyrics a real strut and purpose, even if the vague details don’t really say what’s happening.

The real gem among gems on T’bone’s debut is the title track. “Mt. Trashmore” barrels down the road on a chugging riff that’d feel at home as the b-side to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” It even features bass and guitar doubling a lick and sliding it up the scale. The reckless, silly abandon on the album never feels as immediately appealing, the band’s ode to it’s home town, Cedar Rapids, IA (repleate with shouts to the main drags), is so loving that if I’d had this blaring from my Plymoth Voyager as I cruised up 380 to the Wynsong for a movie, I might have more fond memories of my teen-aged angst in suburban Eastern Iowa.

(I predict, that in Cedar Rapids at least, “stuck in fifth season” will become the motto for those awaiting escape to college or the bright lights of a big city.) As much as T’bone have their tongues planted in cheek for most of their shouts and call and response lyrics, there is something poetic in the silliness of “Mt. Trashmore.” Despite how hard they may have tried to avoid saying something, and “Trashmore” isn’t a clear statement, there’s a real feeling, a sense of place and detail that even the effectively erie “Deerblood” doesn’t quite capture. There’s a reason beyond recognizing many of the cited places and landmarks, that I’ve listened to the title track at least two times more than any other cut on Mt. Trashmore. Like “Glory Days,” “The Boys Are Back in Town,” and other classic rock anthems our fathers hold up as real feeling and real music, I find a bit more here than just the rose-colored memories of wasted nights rolling down suburban streets. There’s an endless potential to being trapped in your hometown; high school graduation, college, all the insanity you’ll have as an adult, not to mention the fact that soul-crushing service industry jobs seem like a means to an end and less of an end. However, there’s a chance that I’ve imbued all of this with my own frustrations, but a song that allows the listener that kind of room to root around in is always greater than one which defers investment, solves problems for you, or denies your emotional attachment.
If Mt. Trashmore has any great failing, it’s the same one had on many of the albums I’ve heard from friends and peers lately, there are one or two songs on the album which so far outshine the rest of the material as to make them seem weak, pallid or even plain bad in comparison.

T’bone will hit the road for their Occupy Subaru Midwestern tour starting Wednesday. You can pick up one of the limited edition vinyl pressings of Mt. Trashmore at all of the band’s stops, so find ’em in a Midwestern city near you (you can also score a digital copy here and order the cassette or vinyl here):

11/16: Chicago, IL – Crown Tap w/Christmas Bride, Unmanned Ship, King Tut’s Tomb
11/17: Milwaukee, WI – Quarter’s Rock Palace w/Temple, Sonic J, Living and Wrestling
11/18: Minneapolis, MN – Medusa w/ Miami Dolphins, TBA
11/19: Minneapolis, MN – Kitty Kat Club w/ Miami Dolphins, Tba
11/20: Omaha, NE – Sandboxxx w/ Yuppies, SSP, The Liz
11/21 Lawrence, KS – Location TBA w/ Major Games, Muscle Worship
11/23: Iowa City, IA – Little Village Live @ Public Space One (Tune into live feed at 5pm on 89.7 FM or get the stream from KRUI’s website.)
11/23: Cedar Rapids, IA – Tornados w/Michael-Sarah, DJs Marco Waller/Zac Naughton
11/25: Iowa City, IA – The Mill w/ Solid Attitude, Alex Body
11/26:  TBA (either Carbondale, IL or St. Louis, MO)