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Sisters are doing it for themselves

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Left, singer/guitarist Danielle Haim and singer/bassist Este Haim of Haim perform in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty

Left, singer/guitarist Danielle Haim and singer/bassist Este Haim of Haim perform in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty

Left, singer/guitarist Danielle Haim and singer/bassist Este Haim of Haim perform in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty

Este Haim's bat mitzvah was in 1999 on a roller rink in California. Her friends played a game called 'Who knows Este best?'. The roller rink was split in half. Trying to guess 13-year-old Este's favourite artist, one side was chanting Fleetwood Mac, the other Tori Amos. (Tori was the winner. Though listening to Haim's music, it probably should have been the Mac.)

"That's like Sophie's Choice," Este said last month in GQ. "I remember feeling like such a star at my bat mitzvah. I was like, 'I'm going to be the centre of attention, I'm going to be doing like triple axels on these roller skates'.

"But I didn't know how to f***king roller skate. My mom wanted me to wear overalls because she wanted me to wear kneepads under them, so no one would see. Very smart, but it didn't do anything. I got home and my knees were completely f***ked. I was like a wounded gazelle all week."

Before they settled on Haim as the name of their alt-rock band, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim toyed with calling themselves The Bagel Bitches. The Jewish Chronicle wrote in 2013 that they were paid in matzah ball soup at their first ever show in 2000, at Canter's, a well-known Jewish deli in Fairfax. Two decades later, director Paul Thomas Anderson shot the cover for the trio's new album Women In Music Pt. III at the same LA deli.

The ever-so-tongue-in-cheek title of the album was prompted in part by an incident in 2017 when Haim found out they were being paid ten times less than a male artist playing on the same festival bill. "It sucked," Danielle told the BBC recently. "But that's the idea with this album. We've gone through a lot of stuff in the last couple of years but now we're like, 'whatever, we'll just do our own thing'."

On Man From The Magazine, the multi-instrumentalist sisters from San Fernando Valley call out sexism in the interviews they've conducted, as well as gender-based indignities they have been through, not least in guitar shops. "Growing up," Danielle recalled, "being young women musicians, it was always just a really shitty experience. We were met with the obvious, 'Oh, are you buying something for your boyfriend?' or, 'Oh, here's a great starter guitar'."

Women In Music Pt. III has an American 1970s FM radio feel to it, blending elements of Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and, of course, Stevie Nicks, who christened Haim her "sisters of the moon".

Este, Danielle and Alana excel at haunting three-part harmonies. The beautiful country ballad Hallelujah has Danielle singing: "Old fears, helped to ease them in my mind/New tears say that they will dry in time".

On the Fleetwood Mac-esque Leaning on You, Danielle sings: "It takes all that I've got not to f**k this up". Now I'm In It and I've Been Down sweep you along to a place that you will probably be stronger after visiting. As will The Steps - the LA Times described it as "a deliciously fuzzed-out rock tune with echoes of Thin Lizzy" - which has Danielle venting her innermost frustration thus: "And though we share a bed, you know that I don't need your help/You don't understand me, baby".

What's there to understand with Haim? All you need to know is that their long-awaited follow-up to 2017's Something to Tell You is one of the albums of the year.

Sunday Indo Living