I contemplated making a flowchart to explain all of this, but let’s see how we manage with pesky words instead.
A few years back, a group of high school kids performing under the name Total Babe made a name for themselves on the Twin Cities club circuit by performing mature, layered folk-pop that belied their young age as a band and as individual performers. The attention they received was well deserved; the talent coursing through four members was palpable even as they were still figuring out how to project their energy on stage.
One of those members, guitarist Jordan Gatesmith, has since become so in-demand from his work in his other band, Howler, that he’s graced the cover of several influential U.K. music magazines this year and received press from Pitchfork and the New York Times — and Howler’s full-length, America Give Up, just came out this week. With Gatesmith tied up in Howlerdom, the remaining three members have splintered off into their own projects. And, given the track record of this group of musicians so far, it’s not too much of a surprise their new bands are worth a listen.
Total Babe’s songwriter and frontwoman, Clara Salyer, is now exorcising her lyrical demons in Prissy Clerks, a band she started with Total Babe drummer Tim Leick, Jr., Red Pens songwriter-turned-bassist Howard Hamilton, Teenage Strangler guitarist Dylan Ritchie, and accordionist Emily Lazear.
“I started Prissy Clerks out of frustration/desperation after Howler started touring and Total Babe was crumbling,” Salyer told me recently. “We released an extremely homemade tape called Gimme Kiddie Rock, a play off of Sebadoh’s Gimme Indie Rock. It’s available at Hymie’s and will be at Treehouse. Next month we’re recording an EP with the amazing Brent Sigmeth from Pachyderm at his home studio in Cannon Falls.”
With only a few demos from the cassette up on their Facebook page, Prissy Clerks have already been booked as the opening act for Asobi Seksu when they come to the Cave in Northfield on February 18. They also play the 7th St. Entry with Young Prisms and Boy Friend on Thursday, March 1.
Total Babe’s fourth member, Lizzie Carolan, meanwhile, has started her own project with Jeff Lorentzen of Nice Purse (see what I mean about needing a flowchart? Could come in handy). Carolan was a back-up singer and violinist in Total Babe, but now she’s moved to center stage to sing and write songs with Lorentzen as Sea Weeds. Their first single “Fall Boi” was a featured Song of the Day on the Current last month, and you can stream it below courtesy of Sea Weeds’ label So-TM.
For the latest from Sea Weeds and Prissy Clerks, stay tuned to our Local Current stream, where both groups have been receiving heavy airplay in recent weeks.