Phoenix singer-songwriter Lonna Kelley is a longtime favorite at Club Congress—but she's taking a different road with her new band.
Make My Baby is more of a collaborative effort—with three female singers, right out front—than Kelley's alt-country bands Broken Hearted Lovers and Reluctant Messiahs. And Make My Baby captures an entirely different sound, a tom-thumping, fuzzed-out garage-rock that's lightened by tight harmonies.
The relatively new band played Club Congress in December, but on Friday, it headlined an almost-exclusively female night, with Acorn Bcorn, AK Kitten and Ruth Wilson also scheduled. Unfortunately, my evening hit a snag, and I missed the first half of the show.
Make My Baby features Kelley on guitar and vocals; Tabby Hufman and Ann Seletos on standing, bass-free drum kits and vocals; and, almost hiding in the back, the guys rounding out the band. They opened with "On the Radio," a spiritual cousin to the new Beach Boys single, featuring nostalgia laid bare, and celebrating music, youth, dancing and the sense that "everything is possible, on the radio."
Make My Baby might be Arizona's answer to retro girl groups like Best Coast, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, but beyond the band's sweet harmonies, everything is raw, loud and even a bit twisted. Make My Baby stays away from dreamy reverb, remaining firmly planted in a lo-fi buzz that contrasts beautifully with the bubblegum-pop vocals.
The songs continued in the vein of "On the Radio"—teenage tales of being love-struck, motoring around and other familiar exploits. Just a few months old, Make My Baby is forgiven for turning in a relatively short set. Their charms are plenty, and as the band writes more songs, we should keep our eyes peeled for more Tucson performances.
Ahead of Make My Baby was the stripped-down blues-punk of sister-duo Acorn Bcorn. There's plenty of menace delivered by the kick drums and the squealing guitar, and when Marina Cornelius unleashes the chorus of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" it's downright frightening. Elsewhere, Marina and Leanne took the tempo to fast and frenzied, leaving an electrifying buzz hanging in the air as they brought the last song to a crash landing.