Sheer Mag


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Need To Feel Your Love (2017), 6/10
A Distant Call (2019), 6/10
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Philadelphia's quintet Sheer Mag (vocalist Tina Halladay, guitarist Kyle Seely, rhythm guitarist Matt Palmer, bassist Hart Seely and drummer Ian Dykstra) debuted as a distant descendant of Thin Lizzy on the EP Sheer Mag (2014), containing the crunchy and catchy Hard Lovin, on the EP II (2015), with the Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque Fan The Flames, and on the EP III (2016), with the confrontational Can't Stop Fighting, the girl-group ballad Worth The Tears and the Joan Jett-esque Nobody's Baby, all collected on the album Compilation (2017). The vocalist screams out of her head (mostly sociopolitical lyrics in the tradition of militant punk-rock), but the guitarists engage in elegant counterpoint, and the rhythm section maintains an orderly pace. Except for the vocals the sound is very traditional.

Need To Feel Your Love (2017) brings all the elements to fruition, but its limitation is the strong sense of dejavu. Meet Me In The Street blends the classic hard-rock riffs of Deep Purple and AC/DC. Rank And File evokes Bowie's The Jean Genie. Turn It Up emits psychotic Guns N' Roses emphasis. Suffer Me sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd fronted by a punkette. The group expands its horizons with the Cyndi Lauper-esque disco-punk of Need to Feel Your Love, the disco-funk of latter-day Bee Gees in Pure Desire, the country lament Until You Find The One and the Byrds-ian folk-rock Milk And Honey. It is not clear what they want to be when they grow up.

The (socialist) concept album A Distant Call (2019), with the guitarist also supplying the drumming, opens just like its predecessor with classic hard-rock riffs a` la AC/DC (Steels Sharpens Steel), but it is clearly more concerned with melody. Alas, the more melodic songs (Blood from a Stone, Hardly to Blame) lose so much punk (all the way to the lame ballad Silver Line) that the sociopolitical message sounds parodistic. Luckily the incendiary rock'n'roll anthem The Killer and the pounding and psychedelic Keep on Runnin', with some of their best guitar interplay, rescue a sound that is moving dangerously close to pop balladry; and the vibrant Chopping Block even tops that, possibly the zenith of pathos of their entire career.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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