Even though the Beach Boys sang about California girls over four decades ago, it’s easy to imagine they were thinking about HAIM when they wrote it. The band is comprised of three sisters from Los Angeles who are all in their late teens and early twenties with long hair flowing down their backs and a laid-back California style that has seemingly gotten them more coverage in fashion mags than music blogs. Their February-released EP Forever should change that, though, as it reveals that HAIM is way more than just a figurehead of the new California style.
Even though the women of HAIM — bassist Este (oldest), guitarist/keys/maracas Alana (youngest), and Danielle (middle), lead guitar — are relatively young, they have more experience than bands twice their age. They spent nearly 15 years playing with their parents in a classic rock cover band called Rockinhaim with their mom on guitar and their dad on drums and the girls doing everything else. Since then Este went on to get a music degree and Danielle has supported Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas, and Cee-Lo Green on the road.
The sisters have been recording together for five years, but only when they crafted their latest EP were they ready for their coming-out party. While the sisters are all skilled as drummers — their father reportedly put drum sticks in their hands at 3 months old — Dash Hutton, who previously played drums for LA bands Wires on Fire and Slang Chickens, now lays down beats for the band. The three songs on the EP are all winners. While “Forever” is the clear single with its off-kilter yet catchy rhythm and upbeat pop sensibility, “Go Slow” and “Better Off” showcase HAIM’s ability to effortlessly play impeccable pop rock songs while singing in three-part harmony. Their influences range from ’60s bands to classic rock to ’80s pop to Usher and early ’90s R&B, diverse models that HAIM manages to blend together into a sound that is uniquely their own. The songs have a natural percussiveness to them with quirky stops and starts and unexpected beats mixed in with their girl-group harmonies, which creates a refreshing mix of bubblegum and edge. Once you start listening to HAIM, it’s hard not to wish they all could be California girls.
Listen to three tunes, and a Dan Lissvik remix, at Soundcloud.
Here’s the title track’s video: