Haybaby have been primarily a live band for four years now. It’s rare not to see them show up on a Brooklyn bill a few times a month, usually opening up for a treasure trove of great acts, and they were even named one of the hardest-working bands in New York last year for their tireless efforts to perform, something the trio takes great pride in doing. Over the years, they’ve put out a few songs in recorded form, but are finally taking the steps towards solidifying themselves into something tangible, something you can jam out to before rolling up to one of their shows.
Vocalist/guitarist Leslie Hong and bassist Sam Yield have been constants in the lineup since the band’s creation, and they recently added Jeremy Duvall as a drummer this past winter. They’re now ready to go with a debut album, Sleepy Kids, which will be released in the fall through Tiny Engines, home to other great bands such as Cayetana, the Hotelier, and Tigers Jaw. The album was initially conceived as a six-song EP, recorded over a few days in their living room. After being approached by the label to put out a full-length, they went back to the drawing board to come up with a few more tracks to fill the whole thing out.
The result is a powerful, no-nonsense record that sounds prickly, immediate, and engaging. “We all enjoy songs where the phrasing is really clear, where everything is distinct,” Yield told me before Haybaby played a set at Baby’s All Right a few weeks ago. “It’s just a different aesthetic than music that’s kind of mushy and drones on.” The band was initially created as a response to the reverb-heavy onslaught at the beginning of the decade, an outlet to make cutting, cut-throat music. And while that trend’s prominence has long pass, Haybaby have stood strong, and built a vital, vibrant sound around the remains.
Their songs are constructed around three-note riffs that expand outward from there, adding in noise and rolling drums as support and letting the driving tension do much of the work. A lot of these were sketched out during the dead space during practice sessions, absent-minded noodling that eventually started to flesh itself out. The songs show those roots, feeling organic, loose, and ready-to-play. Part of the desire to keep their sound on the sparser side was to keep as close to their live show as possible. That’s a great thing, because their live show is absolutely killer — it’s a joy and a wonder to see them work up on stage, feeding off the energy of a crowd and responding with equal force. “After I perform, I feel strung out and terrible,” Hong said. “It’s like I’m scraping my soul out of my uterus. I feel empty afterwards.”
“That’s the vulnerability we’re going for,” Yield added. “Because you’re exposing this honest side of yourself. It’s scary, but it’s also what I love about it.” That passion translates over to the new record, and lead single “Her” captures their crackling intensity. It’s an anxious, tight-sounding cut from a record that has eight more just as strong. Check it out below, and get excited for when the rest of it drops later this year.
01 “Old Friends”
02 “New Friends”
04 “Pizza Party”
06 “Elevator Song”
Sleepy Kids is out in the fall on Tiny Engines. Preorder it here.