Arena Rock For The Basement
Among the modern day alternative rock acts, Sheer Mag is that kid in grammar school stern on his standing that his dad’s classic rock bands are much cooler than anything you were listening to on the radio. This Philadelphia based band has a punk ethos that is hidden behind the glam of ’70s classic rock, built from riffs that would’ve been an instant classic in a different time period.
The lead singer of Sheer Mag, Christina Halladay, is what makes this group unique. Without her bluesy, distorted and empowering vocals, Sheer Mag would be in the White Reaper realm of uncontrollably imitating classic rock almost to the point of parody. Her voice adds a sense of soul and power, along with production that gives her sound a distorted garage aspect that compliments the riffs in a unique way.
The difference between the compilations of Sheer Mag’s past and this premiere LP release is the glam-rock of it all appears to be amplified. Sheer Mag feels more spacey and extroverted this go around. The opening track, “Meet Me In The Street,” shadows more of the glitz and gaudiness of The Darkness compared to previous releases, that sound like the lovechild of Alabama Shakes and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The grunts of Halladay are mean and more in your face than a previous track like “Fan The Flames.” “Need to Feel Your Love” is a sexual track that races all over the place. It’s bluesy and undeniably has impressive guitar work, but it feels as if the guitarist, Kyle Seely, is always trying to find the hook in this song, playing constantly catchy riffs, but not letting any of them stick around long enough to get stuck in the listener’s head. This is an unfortunate trend that happens in a few other tracks on Need To Feel Your Love such as “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Until You Find The One.”
Although sometimes the hook can’t catch on for some tracks, others have that it-factor that makes the band special. “Expect the Bayonet” has a sweltering guitar riff that goes perfectly with the high pitched vocals of Halladay. Here she preaches the political backlash that is all over cities in America with lyrics like, “And I been reading the news and you’ll surely regret / If you don’t give us the ballot / Expect the bayonet.” This track is surprisingly very political, but the metaphors Halladay uses for the current state of events are some of the most original political lyricism 2017 has seen thus far. “Suffer Me” has an infectious chorus with a guitar melody that feels perfect in some sort of ’70s crooked cop movie.
Sheer Mag has a lot more potential than Need To Feel Your Love is letting on. The highlights on the album come from the catchy riffs they formulate on tracks like “Expect The Bayonet,” but there are a number of tracks that follow a launching roller coaster of melodies that don’t allow for one solid riff or hook to settle into a speed limit. If Sheer Mag can ever adjust this, they have everything they need to write a modern day classic rock record. The distinct vocals of Halladay, plus the nostalgic riffs of Kyle Seely make Need to Feel Your Love, at the very least, a deserved listen to the classic rock fan.