Underrated Bands #1: Halestorm

Hello Angels!

I wanted to start a new musical themed series. Something which I can always write about and talk about; bands I think are overrated or underrated. A quick disclaimer that I’m not working with/for any of these bands (I fucking wish) and these opinions are my own. All songs I talk about or mention will be linked so you can listen; they’re a band that helped me through a lot, and they might help one of you.

So Halestorm: a quick background check for you. Arejay and Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale have been writing and performing music since 1997. The teen siblings released an EP titled Don’t Mess With the Time Man in 1999. In 2003, Joe Hottinger joined the band. In Halestorm’s earlier days, Lzzy and Arejay’s father, Roger Hale, played bass before Josh Smith joined the group in 2004. Atlantic Records went on to sign them in 2005, where they then released the live EP ‘One and Done’ in 2006, then their self titled first album was released in 2009.

First of all, they’re one of the bands openly talking about women having sex: on their first album there was Dirty Mind (talking about both female masturbation and enjoying sex, seen through the line ‘I don’t need to have you here, to feel you crashing in to me‘ and ‘me and my dirty mind are working over time‘) there was Mz Hyde on the second, there’s Amen, Apocalyptic, Gonna Get Mine. Their last album Vicious has Do Not Disturb (a song suggesting a one night stand and a three way- taboo for a woman to sing about but they take it in their stride effortlessly). They’re a band that celebrate female sexuality and here for it. This has been shown especially on their third and fourth album. For me, Apocalyptic is a key example of this (“I’ll give you one last night, so make it twisted, give you one last shot, go on and hit it, give you one more time, so make me miss it, baby love me apocalyptic” and “Give me a red hand print right across my ass, I’m leaving scratches up and down your back, throw me against the wall, bite me on my neck, like end of the world, break-up sex“) as she’s openly talking about sexual attraction and how despite the fact that they’re ‘dysfunctional’ and the fact that there’s ‘still one thing’ they’re good for.

Although we live in a world of sexualised pop, how often do we actually hear about a woman taking control? How often is is just written plane in the face without hiding around it? How often do you hear brutal honesty and no metaphors around it? The difference is that there’s an honesty to it and they’re not relying on it to sell music. Also, it’s written by a woman who is singing it; not a man writing music for a woman to sing so it’s just basically male fantasy. Also not ghost written by a woman for a woman to sing so the person is singing about another person’s experiences or desires. It’s real and it’s raw.

But, despite this, there’s still a lot of songs NOT about sex, but they use sex as a metaphor for something else, instead of using metaphors to talk about sex. Think I Get Off– not actually about getting off, but the thrill of being on stage and the rush you get from seeing people enjoy a show. Think Private Part– not about a dick or vagina, but about what you hide from the world, about wanting to see someone completely stripped back and their real selves.

Then there’s shit that hits you hard. What Sober Couldn’t Say is a song that described my life and an ex relationship for a long time and is a song which is one of my favourites but is one I struggle to listen to at times. Dear Daughter is another that can hit people fucking hard but offers so much love and comfort- sometimes you just need to hear the words she’s singing. Break In is a sentimental song about love that I think anyone can relate to. Bad Girls World talks about constant judgement and challenging stereotypes, encouraging girls to be themselves- “they’ll hate you ’cause you’re beautiful” is something which will never fail to hit me.

They write music about writing music and being in a band. Think fucking Rock Show where the title is self explanatory. Then, I Like it Heavy– a song about loving music, loving rock and how it’s lead them to their career (the acapella part at the end will give you goosebumps). Here’s to Us is a song about their career and celebrating how far they’ve come, talking about the mess ups and the good times.

It’s rare for a metal/ hard rock band to sing or write about shit other than sex: they’re writing about female sexuality, they’re talking about love, they talk about rock. For them to break the trend and do something new is incredible to me. I look up to Lizzy Hale as a role model and have done since I was about 13 or 14; she’s honest, she’s open and she’s herself without shame… Also her fucking voice is immense and she’s an incredible guitarist and pianist. She’s able to be a badass bitch while also showing vulnerability, she’s a real person and also a really good person.

But, it’s not just the lyrics and the vocals. Although Lzzy Hale is centre stage as the front woman, the rest of the band are just as talented. Arejay Hale is incredibly talented and up there with some of my favourite drummers (Ashton Irwin, Dave Grohl and Sandy West and the others). I’m never not impressed with how skilled he is. Joe Hottinger is also an incredible guitarist and him and Lzzy bounce off each other; guitar parts always mesh together seamlessly and I don’t think the sound would be as full or defined without him. Josh Smith is one of the reasons I started playing bass and one of the people who inspired me (Callum Hood, Jackie Fox and Kim Deal are there too). If you try and play one of his bass lines you’ll struggle when you first start trying to learn it and still afterwards, he’s incredible. It’s difficult for bands to make music and bring stuff to the table that works well together. When you see them live you can see they know each other with a look and any improvisation that they do the others pick up on like it was planned.

I think they send out a good message. I see a lot of people are saying their their music isn’t for younger children, but let them listen to what is on the radio. I don’t like the stereotype that rock is going to be harmful to children or inappropriate; despite my earlier rant, it’s the same as stuff which is on the radio… just with more guitars and less subtly, though listening to half of the shit (a future post coming up) it’s no longer as subtle as I originally thought. I like the fact that women are owning their sexuality- I just don’t like the fact that they tear other women down a lot of the time for owning it while being hypocritical.

I like the fact that there are women in rock and metal music. I like the representation. A lot of the music (Steel Panther for example) is about what men do to women. Halestorm are fronted by a woman and play music about what people do with each other.

If you’ve not listened to them, please do: there will be a song by song review of their latest album going up soon; I’ve been so busy and had to write a lot of posts on demand and do other paid work that it’s not as early as I’d have liked it to be.

Stay safe and stay happy, Angels ❤️

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