Minneapolis trio Total Babe makes quiet, totally catchy pop on six-song debut EP

Just give it 15 seconds. That’s how long it takes on the first song on “Heatwave” (So TM), the debut EP from Minneapolis trio Total Babe, for the band to outpace countless other groups comprising teenagers still in high school.

The timid acoustic guitar and tentative drums that open “Bearbones” give way to tight, punchy indie-pop fleshed out with organ, violin and sweet, breathy vocals from 16-year-old lead singer Clara Salyer.

A bass player in her high school’s jazz band, she took up acoustic guitar largely with the goal of landing an opening slot for the local band Red Pens. Soon after, Salyer’s friends Jordan Gatesmith and Lizzie Carolan joined on guitar and violin, respectively, and Total Babe was born.

Together, they wrote the six songs on “Heatwave.” They tunes belie the group’s relative inexperience, mixing smart, understated pop arrangements with surprisingly mature lyrical introspection.

Carolan’s violin lends a melancholy air to “Short Stories” and “Gary Coleman,” and pulses in time with acoustic guitar and speedy drumming on “(Mission Hills Country Club Wall of) Champions,” as Salyer (apparently) explains an emotional freakout.

The band’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In addition to plenty of local buzz back home, Total Babe plays a trio of shows in New York Oct. 20-22, including a showcase at CMJ. Next up: a full-length record, due early next year.

(Photo by Jane Gardner)

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