Philadelphia band Sheer Mag finds hope during tense times

Sheer Mag brings its energetic soulful rock to Seattle.

“From the sorrow we created / A fragile state of blood and whim / Made for rich men in their white skin,” sings Tina Halladay of Philadelphia-based band Sheer Mag. The song, called “Expect the Bayonet,” finds its groove and grit in the tensions of the current political state, as does most of the band’s debut album, “Need to Feel Your Love.”

Sheer Mag is slated to perform it for Seattle audiences at Chop Suey on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

“The new album is political in nature; even before this happened things weren’t looking too great. I mean, it’s just this presidency pushed all that ugliness to the forefront,” said lead singer Halladay. “But as a band, we’re drawn to the light and to hope.”


Sheer Mag

8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., Seattle; $12-$14 (

Sheer Mag, originally named “Sheer Magnitude” as a joke, began when Halladay and the other members — Kyle Seely, Matt Palmer and Ian Dykstra — met at State University of New York at Purchase.

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“At school, we were all in different bands and we’d go out and support each other. We’d also play bills together. Then all our bands sort of fell apart at the same time, and I moved to Philadelphia,” said Halladay. “The others followed, and we lived together in a house and started playing together as a band.”

Halladay said most of their friends from school were moving to New York, and she just couldn’t see herself or the band living there. “Philadelphia allowed us more time to work on music and less distraction,” she said.

The move to Philadelphia also gave Sheer Mag a flavor that many of their contemporaries don’t have. Philadelphia’s specific brand of soul — defined by pre-disco groove and lush instrumental arrangements like those of artists like Patti LaBelle — has seeped into the indie rock of Sheer Mag.

The title song, “Need to Feel Your Love,” for instance, sounds like the love child of the Jackson 5 and the Bee Gees. It prominently features a disco high-hat and syncopated funk bassline in tandem with Halladay’s dazed, stretched vocal quality.

The debut also underscores the band’s willingness to be vulnerable about their political stances and their personal lives.

“That song [‘Need to Feel Your Love’] was about someone in my life,”…

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