Real Girls with Real Instruments YES!
Haim did not just appear and they have a long musical past, but I just became really aware of them last week because, of course, I was watching “Saturday Night Live”. They may be the coolest valley girls ever. I want my hair to grow faster, to start wearing a leather jacket, and to go back to work on my all girl band screen play, because Haim is so much like the rocking farm girls I pictured in my head, only sisters and from LA. Don’t even get me started on their beautiful thick eyebrows – this is about the music!
Could it be any cooler that a lyric in this song, “The Wire” has a woman saying she is “bad at communication”?
I love Danielle Haim (lead guitar, lead vocals, and middle sister). There is something so tomboyish but sexy about her. I haven’t seen her wearing lipstick so far, and she’s hot in addition to being an in-demand touring musician outside of her own band. I love when girls play instruments in a band and don’t seem like “chicks”, but don’t seem like Melissa Etheridge. Why is it so seemingly rare? And all girl bands seem even more rare. I was a big fan of The Like’s album “Release Me” (another L.A. all-girl band with deep musical roots) but it didn’t have this kind of authentic rock feel (exceptional production by Mark Ronson though!).
Even though the production on “Days are Gone” is slick, the live performance I saw last week on TV didn’t feel that way at all. Like this Pitchfork review mentions (http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/18574-haim-days-are-gone/), there is an element of the “Hot 100 Singles of 1987” in “Days are Gone” that gives me a pleasant nostalgic feeling. 1987 was the summer we moved to Massachusetts, spent in our split level home basement watching the VH-1 we mysteriously had without a cable box. Therefore, this song in my head all week in addition to Haim.
Este, the bass player and oldest, wears bright red lipstick and has a really intense guitar face. The youngest sister, Alana (guitar, percussion, and keys), is all about the short shorts. And I may have mentioned the hair. Long, straight, awe-inspiring hair, so you know they’re girls.
I always had a problem with super girlie music like Jewel’s and Sarah McLachlan’s. It just seemed like the fodder for everything people like to tease/hate women for – weepy, emotional, pining songs about your boyfriend and the toothpaste cap. Therefore, I was severely against the Lilith Fair despite Liz Phair’s participation. In retrospect, I appreciate supportive environments for women in any realm, I just hate that we need them in music.
Haim (because yes, I do think they are the kind of young women who control everything about their image) have videos in which they 1) make a bunch of guys cry 2) ride motorbikes like their own three person gang 3) catch fish with their bare hands in the wilderness 4) goof off dancing in a beauty salon, and 5) more than once, do an in-unison dance move. They also play basketball against a team of boys, in one instance where they are shown competing with men rather than trying to win them. I love that they aren’t afraid to show that their music is danceable, to show some leg, to do a synchro dance move together (maybe one is wearing a bra top), and to do a weird fireside ritual with gypsy robes and feline light projections on their faces because damn it, you can play in a band, and be in control of your life, and be sexy and desirable, and do it all in Keds and low heeled boots without ever having a cleavage shot. Why are there not enough female role models like this anywhere?
Here’s the other thing – I think Haim may have made Sheryl Crow cool. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll sing along to a Sheryl Crow song on the radio. I respect her abilities as a singer and guitarist and I know she is a songwriter as well. But I don’t go around advertising this nor do I buy her records. So, to the generation younger than me, is Sheryl Crow actually cool, or is she cool in the way I loved Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night” when I was little and I now love Badfinger? It’s confusing for me, but you should watch the performance linked here:
I don’t think this is the best example of Haim’s vocal abilities (I love that they sing in a lower range than many popular female musicians), but I love how INTO it they are. Like, happy to be covering a song from their ostensible childhood and also like, into the lyrics. Of “Strong Enough”. I know, this is a big deal, not being scared to sing that song seriously.
I can’t talk about Lorde right now because I am too distracted by her purple lipstick and huge coat. But, did you notice that Danielle Haim SOLOs? Do you know how infrequently this happens with female guitarists?
I’ll probably continue to write about sister bands and not be in one. But I am newly motivated to wear ripped tee shirts and flat shoes, and this is progress. Thank you Haim. Thank you.*
*Note: This only happens when the band is good.
Please enjoy Haim’s videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HaimTheBand?feature=watch
And also enjoy some of the more ridiculous comments showing how unused to seeing real women people are. For example “they’re weirdly hott too” – as opposed to the un-weird hottness of like, Britney Spears or something? Apparently Danielle also is always dressed like a guy. Which is why I think she has SUCH AWESOME STYLE.
Don’t give up, ladies!