Almost exactly a year ago --- in the first HeadButler.com edition of 2012 --- I wrote about Blake Mills, a California musician you never heard of. But you would, I said, because "without any hype, with no great charisma, without even much in the way of stage presence, he is the immediate future of intelligent music."
Some of you trusted me and spent an enjoyable year getting to know him and, admit it, feeling superior to the Kool Kids. Some of you responded to later prods. A few waited until the holidays and then sent Blake Mills to friends and family. For most of you, though, Blake Mills is still as remote as Bashar al-Assad.
On Sundays, on the odd chance of reading a glorious obituary, it is my early morning habit to dart the London newspapers. Then I glance at the culture pages, but not with the Anglophilia that afflicted me when I was an English major in college. I'm just... checking.
On one of those culture pages, I spotted something interesting, A band called Haim had just been anointed the BBC's "Sound of 2013" -- in American sports, this would be the equivalent of being named Rookie of the Year.
What was so interesting?
The band was three American sisters from California.
And they were named Haim.
Like Danielle Haim, known to me as girlfriend and drummer of Blake Mills.
Blake Mills would not have a twit for a collaborator. She would have to be spectacularly talented. No doubt her sisters would be, as well.
Indeed they are. The band is sometimes described as a latter-day Fleetwood Mac, but Este, Alana and Danielle Haim are so much more than that. For one thing, they're blessedly less self-involved. In fact, they're unscrubbed at every level. They perform in what might be called daywear. Their makeup, if they wear any, is subliminal. They couldn't be more relaxed -- except in their music, which is crisp and inventive. Their voices mesh. Their lyrics bite. Their guitars sting and chime, as needed. Think of them as the children of Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell.
They're opening for Mumford & Sons now. Soon they'll be headliners. Then they'll be huge.
Want to become an early believer? Try one song:
How did they get so good? When they were pre-schoolers, their father woke from a nap with a vision: a family band. Guitars were acquired. Soon the parent-daughter band had mastered "Mustang Sally."
The all-kid version was born in 2007, when the youngest daughter was on the verge of graduating high school with no plan to go to college. Lyrics materialized. Recording began. "For each of the last four years, we made an EP, which we hated," they say. "There are many Haim records that will never be released."
In what they've let out, there's joyous variety. If there's a through line, it's sophisticated rhythms and solo voices that can come from any of the trio. They have a male drummer. To his credit, he can keep up.
One song on the EP is a remix. Here are two more.
And here, as a bonus, is Haim in a karaoke bar, "performing" that old chestnut, "Hazy Shade of Winter." Pure pleasure. Unalloyed joy.
Reposted from HeadButler.com.