New Sounds: BABY! steals Florida’s sunshine on spectacular debut ‘Sunny, F.L.’


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In a musical era where the art of reclamation runs rampant, the trend has trickled down even to the local level, helping musicians embrace the insults once thrown at them and render the terms powerless. It’s the very reason why singer/songwriter Kaley Honeycutt goes by BABY!

Honeycutt, the “kid sister” of her four older brothers, picked the name after years of being heralded as the crybaby of her family. Fortunately, being overemotional tends to bode well for the sensitive type in the music industry.

“I chose the name BABY! because I saw it as a way to embrace a part of myself that I was teased about for a long time — which is just being a very sensitive and emotionally open person,” Honeycutt explains.

But this isn’t some sort of Melanie Martinez preschool facade; Honeycutt offers a muted maturity on her debut LP Sunny, F.L., her followup to April’s Pick Me EP. She officially dropped the album via Yellow K on August 25, but celebrates the release this Wednesday (August 30) at the Middle East in Cambridge with Peaer, NOX, and Strange Mangers.

Despite recording the entire album last spring, Honeycutt said she needed some material to release while she worked on the logistics of the record, and instead released Pick Me in April while she plugged away at her full-length.

“The process of planning a release, getting tapes made and the record pressed on vinyl takes a long time,” Honeycutt says. “So I put out an EP with a few songs I had written in the meantime. I was playing a lot of shows and I wanted to have some music that was accessible online and in physical form.”

It’s exactly why there’s no overlap between the two records, and instead, Sunny, F.L. takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to all the preconceived notions about the retirement and vacation hub where she grew up. Starting with “Weather Girl,” Honeycutt sandwiches modern, demure vocals between retro pep, solidifying her bedroom-surf-rock status.

“I got a crop top in the mail/I wasn’t sure if it would fit me right,” she sings, opening the album on a particularly self-aware note. Everything on the album circles back to Honeycutt’s time living in Orlando, Florida — and her efforts to leave the Sunshine State.

“I knew I wanted to move out of Florida for a while, which I kind of talk about on the record,” Honeycutt adds. “The title of the LP — Sunny, F.L. — is kind of a sarcastic reference to how Florida is portrayed to tourists so that people will come visit, when in reality outside of tourism there aren’t very many jobs or opportunities in Florida. The music/art scene is constantly struggling to stay existent, and it’s really a weird place. I chose Boston because I had heard about the music scene in Boston from a friend there who was doing music writing. I just wanted to live in a place where I could afford/access some of my goals with music. Boston ended up being that place!”

The remainder of the album keeps up the sun-kissed appeal, from the tin-y guitar on “Bite My Tongue” to the self-explanatory track “Getting Out.”

“I see the leaves/They’re calling me away/I’m chasing a breeze/Getting out of the sunshine state,” she beckons on “Getting Out,” her self-fulfilled prophecy that makes for perfect fall prep.

She’s right of course — fall foliage and leaf-peeping in new England are delightful — but we can’t wait to see what strain of surf music comes from this “Weather Girl” after a good ol’ New England winter.

BABY! + PEAER + NOX + STRANGE MANGERS :: Wednesday, August 30 at The Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 7 p.m., 18-plus, $10 in advance and $12 day of show :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page :: Featured photo by Andrew Piccone.