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
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
all collected on the album
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.
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