Philadelphia musicians seem to be garnering press everywhere these days, and Sheer Mag is is no exception. While much of the “indie” scene (at least as it centers in Brooklyn) continues its fascination with 80s textures, Sheer Mag’s aesthetic is an unabashed, fuzzed-out, 70s throwback. Think Thin Lizzy and the MC5, with some Joan Jett and a bit of (dare I say) Fleetwood Mac thrown in for good measure.
Critics insist on calling them punk—which is not entirely off-base—but Sheer Mag’s songs are so, well, danceable, that the tag seems a bit ill-fitting, despite their DIY approach. There’s too much rigorous pop craftsmanship here, too many gleeful minor-7th chords, too many un-ironic, soaring guitar riffs, too much general sweetness balancing out the grit and attitude—though the oft-noted political frankness of band’s lyrics does reflect something of a punk ethos.
The press has not overlooked Sheer Mag: Rolling Stone established the band as one of “10 New Artists You Need To Know” in early 2015, calling them “a gang of punks with a not-so-secret love of Seventies classic rock.” They played Coachella this past spring, and their current offering—III EP, their third release in as many years—rated among the “Best New Music” in March in Pitchfork, who called them “the Jackson 5 raised to play punk rock, with an F-5 tornado for a singer.” Spin has compared them to “fellow reformed punks, like…Perfect Pussy or the Downtown Boys.”
Beyond academic considerations of scene, sonics, and influence, everyone seems to agree that this is resolutely fun music, perfect for inhabiting the waning days of summer. Watch “Nobody’s Baby” and listen to “Can’t Stop Fighting,” below.