December 12, 2019

Touring: Sheer Mag

artwork: George Gillies

SHEER MAG TOUR DATES:

SYDNEY: Wednesday March 25 @ Red Rattler Theatre. Tickets on sale now
WOLLONGONG: Thursday March 26 @ La La Las. Tickets on sale now.
BRISBANE: Friday March 27 @ The Zoo. Tickets on sale now
MELBOURNE: TO BE ANNOUNCED.

Are Sheer Mag the rock’n’roll saviours this planet needs right now? Just named as one of the great rock albums of the year by Rolling StonePitchforkNPR to name a few, and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders chose their worker anthem “Expect the Bayonet” at his New York campaign rally.

“Five years since the lower-than-lo-fi underground hit “What You Want” shook some action on the dance floor, Sheer Mag has toured like maniacs, upgraded to well-respected studio engineers like Arthur Rizk and become the denim-and-leather-jacket-wearing standard bearers of truly independent rock and roll. A Distant Call refines the Philly band’s roots — Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick — with a bottomless well of hot licks and ripping guitar solos, brawny call-and-response and Tina Halladay’s soul-cleansing howl. Leaning into its signature sound, but adding unexpected textures here and there, Sheer Mag’s worker anthems and brokenhearted rock ballads fist-pump just as hard, but maybe a little more tender” – NPR

Sheer Mag’s dizzying rise initiated in 2014, when the Philadelphia band self-released the first of three 7-inches and started playing the Northeastern DIY circuit. Ironically, the music stood apart because it sounded so familiar. Indebted to ‘70s arena rock, power-pop, and proto-metal, Sheer Mag’s songs reminded a lot of us of the music we grew up with, but maybe couldn’t relate to because it was big, brash, and unapologetically macho.

Sheer Mag reclaimed some of that energy without perpetuating the toxicity. On their debut album, Need to Feel Your Love (2017), the band surveyed their contemporary political landscape through the lens of history. Singer Tina Halladay transported herself back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, denounced redlining practices that undermine the popular vote, and paid homage to White Rose activist Sophie Scholl. On paper, it’s a mouthful, but accompanied by guitarist/lyricist Matt Palmer, guitarist Kyle Seely, and bassist/producer Hart Seely, those songs became hook-laden rallying cries.

Two years later, Sheer Mag returned with their sophomore album A Distant Call. They’re still writing about surviving our current hellscape, but this time around, the politics get extra-personal. The album verges on being a concept piece, and the protagonist resembles Halladay herself. The songs document a particularly alienating time in her life when she was laid off from a job. Broke and newly single, her father (with whom she had a fraught relationship) passed away, leaving her with more wounds than felt possible to heal.