For a guy who grew up with 70's punk and rock, it's hard to find a reason not to love Sheer Mag. You want punk ethos? Check. You want hard rockin' power pop tunes? Check. You want a three guitar blitzkrieg wall of sound? Check mate.
Sheer Mag formed in Philly in 2014. Tina Halladay is the presence up front. She has tons of attitude, prancing around the stage with a snarl as she growls out the lyrics. She is a commanding presence.
Like the rest of the band, she went to SUNY Purchase, and rather than move to NYC, she used her education and made a better decision: Philly! The others eventually followed and here they are. Two rough and tumble albums out, and a hard edged sound that reminds me of bands like Thin Lizzy. Did I ever tell you that I love Thin LIzzy? It's true. Anyway, take a look and listen and see if you don't agree.
The band headlined Union Transfer recently. There was a decent crowd there, but not so large that they had to move the stage back. That worked out fine for me as I wanted to be outside the mosh area and ended up on one of the two "wings" above the floor. I was right by the lead guitarist, Matt Palmer, who co-writes the tunes with Tina. Matt is sure to keep his riffs hot and heavy, and I enjoy the heavy guitar licks as much as anything about this band. Lots of guitar, but also lots of hooks and drive. Perfecto.
Tina is the clear stage presence of the band. The others pretty much stay in their allotted spots and jam heavy. Palmer plays the flying V guitar seen in the pictures. While the rest of the band lets Tina dominate, they are tight and professional. I'm always glad to see a band coming home after a nice tour because they have rehearsed and performed enough that they are just kicking it.
Sheer Mag has two albums out. Need to Feel Your Love is awesome, and has many of my favorite tracks, but the new album A Distant Call (which came out in June) is a fine sophomore effort. The band played healthy doses of songs from both and the crowd ate it up. I particularly loved hearing Need to Feel Your Love, Just Can't Get Enough, Expect the Bayonet, and Suffer Me. Need to Feel Your Love was a critical smash, one of the best albums of 2017. Pop it on and it immediately smacks you with high energy tracks that give energy, socially and sexually suggestive lyrics, and the coolness that any great rock band has to have.
Another great track is What You Want off of their pre-album EPs. It has that same hard edged sound, but Tina's bluesy, low-fi vocal styling make it an instant classic. When you combine that with the catchy guitar hooks that power the tune, it just grabs you by the throat and won't let go.
There were a couple of forgettable punk bands that opened up the show. If you google it, you can find out their names, but since they were forgettable, why would you do that? I just saved you some time.
I'm a pretty big proponent of getting to a show early so that you can see the warm up acts, but also so that you can snag a great spot at the venue. Sometimes, the warm up acts are great - Exhibit A is the Weeks - but sometimes they suck. Can I just go on record right now to say that a solo guitarist singing songs that all sound alike is a bad start to a show where the headliner is a hard-rockin' band? I don't like people being rude when someone is performing, but hey, sometimes they deserve rude. Like when they suck. And pretty much every solo guitarist who is the opener for a three band bill is almost guaranteed to suck.
Sheer Mag most definitely did not suck. I"ve seen them a couple of times and would go again in a heartbeat. They're in Europe now, which seems like a good reason to go to the Old World. But I won't be doing that because I have a couple of other shows to see right here in the USA. Yup, I"m still on a roll, and have plenty more to catch you up on.
Next up it's DIIV at Underground Arts, then Elton John (ha! Can you believe it? I can't), And maybe a few others just for kicks and grins. I haven't decided yet on who to see, but the Interruptors and Steely Dan are high probables.
I've gotta split now, but I'll be back very soon. It's hard to find the time to write when I'm going to all these shows, the World Series is on, and college football and the NFL are in the meat of their schedules. Oh, hey, I just read that book about the Replacements called Trouble Boys. I'll write about them, too. I don't consider myself a huge 'Mats fan but compared to most of the world, I probably was (I own 4 of their CDs). Anyway, there's much to do and I'll be back soon with more.
So long, BRP readers!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.