This is Philadelphia based rock band Sheer Mag. Have you been missing pure rock n roll? Y’know… that real shit. Cranking guitars that effortlessly rock without assaulting, rolling without all the bloody aggression. That 70’s rock. HUGE melodies and big hooks hung upon vocal personalities that would just make a song soar? Sheer Mag knows your pain. They know your struggle. They wear it on their songs like a war-patch, awarded for too many heartbreaks to count… across too many sleepless nights to remember. Much of this presence is filtered through the siren-song vocals of Tina Halladay. She is soulful and exposed, shredding personal tragedies and triumphs throughout her lyrics offered up with an intensely passionate delivery. And when that is laid upon the serpentine bass/guitar lines of a song like, “Hardly To Blame”, the result is attention commanding right out the gate and only gets better as the song crashes into its super-sweet-hook of a title. The band formed in 2014 and has to date put out two full length albums. 2017’s “Need To Feel Your Love” and 2019’s “A Distant Call”. You gotta love the cover of that second album… it’s so retro bad… it’s actually bad-ass. Same with their logo. It’s so over-the-top-Thin-Lizzy-doing-rails-off-a-Deep Purple-album-cover-cool that it dominates most actual metal bands attempts at bad-assery. Besides Halladay’s inescapable vocal charms, a lot of the Sheer Mag appeal comes from guitarists Matt Palmer and Kyle Seely. The rhythms and lead runs are often semi-complex and playful while always adhering to a solid rock formula. Check the solid single, “Fan The Flames”, that despite a questionable blown out mix, still manages to be a catchy, layered, yet ready for classic rock radio song. Sheer Mag seem to be catching the eye of the critics as well. Rolling Stone featured them in 2015 based on the strength of their first demos. They hit Coachella in 2016 as well as being featured on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Between their logo and generally hard to label sounds (without somehow going retro with the categorization), Sheer Mag seems to get lumped into a ‘heavy metal’ genre, when they would be much more comfortable with a ‘classic rock’ association with their sound. Considering the recent success of Greta Van Fleet, perhaps 70’s guitar rock based bands might once again rule the land. It’s interesting the number of labels reviewers have tried to come up with to fit Sheer Mag. “Punk” – naw, they rock with too much class for punk, but they often dress like shit and do sort of have a ‘fuck it, we are us, deal with it’ attitude and that’s pretty punk. “Hard Rock” – closer… but the edges are usually too smooth in a Sheer Mag song. But you can tell the members of Sheer Mag probably listen to a lot of the genre. “Rock and Roll” – generic, but fitting. Especially since they write great SONGS. That’s something classic rock holds above a lot of contemporary rock… that undeniable talent level that brings the magic and makes the above average creations. “Garage Rock” – maybe in their Philly street-wise cred, but their sound is much too mature and put together, despite their best intentions to keep it a bit grimy. “Proto-metal” – perhaps shades of this exist in the tricky, complex, running guitar lines, but the over-all song compositions stick to a more, intentionally familiar pop song structure. “Power Pop” – only in their ability to churn out stupid good hooks in their choruses and dominating melodies. Sheer Mag exists with lines tapping into all of that, which is why they are both familiar and refreshing at the same time. Which is probably exemplified no better than by their danceable track, “Suffer Me”. It starts out intricate and stumbling, but attention grabbing in it’s obvious talent level… but when they pull the trick of actually shifting into the pleasant stomp of the actual song right out of that intro noodling… it’s done in a way that your ear barely catches what they did there. Genuis. As to what put a young Christina Halladay unto the path that would define her later life… “I decided to get new friends in ninth grade because all my friends were kind of dicks, so I started hanging out with weirdos and going to shows 40 minutes away,” Halladay remembers about discovering punk in a rural Long Island that was more “farms and wineries and fields and shit” than all-ages spaces. But despite the recognition, the band still struggles like most rock bands nowadays. “People think I’m making tons of money because they don’t know the difference between getting recognized and getting paid,” Halladay explains. “I don’t get money for being in Rolling Stone. You don’t get fucking paid for getting press. I have enough money to survive… because I’m good at surviving.” Orange is the new punk We’ll leave you with “Nobody’s Baby”. A track that should earn Sheer Mag an opening slot on the next Cheap Trick tour. Just can’t get enough of that grumbly late 70’s/early 80’s guitar jacked through a shitty amp sound.