December 15, 2015 | by Bryne Yancey

It often takes several years of practice, hundreds of songs being written, reworked, reworked again, then whittled down to a select few, then recorded, then a few tours or so, for a band to really hone in on their voice.

It’s like growing up in a way: You have to trudge through the shit to really figure out who you are and what you want. Sheer Mag seem to have figured it out almost immediately, but, what if they haven’t and they’re already this great anyway? What if their two 7-inches, the second of which was released earlier this year, are the floor, rather than the ceiling?

It’s crazy to think about, because the band’s aesthetic is so well-defined and sounds and feels so well-worn already. Christina Halladay has so much soul in her voice, so much charisma in her delivery. She’s a supernova-like driving force that make Sheer Mag such a unique outlier in the overarching DIY punk scene, not just in Philadelphia, but everywhere. She’s the hook. But then there’s guitarist Kyle Seely right behind her, roping listeners in even further with strong melodies and creative, song-serving solos. The duo’s instruments exist within a unique push and pull, Halladay’s voice fiery, Seely’s guitar parts warm and inviting. It’s a very satisfying dynamic.

“Fan The Flames,” the side-one-track-one from Sheer Mag’s second 7-inch, is the band’s most well-rounded song to date. There’s a decidedly lo-fi hum to the entire song, and all of their songs, that nearly acts like an additional instrument. Seely’s guitar parts twist and turn with a Thin Lizzy-like tone and precision while Halladay belts out affecting lyrics that are decidedly 2015 Philadelphian, about the way gentrification changes neighborhoods here to the point where busted, bullet hole-riddled windows and structurally dilapidated rowhomes stand, barely, alongside plasticky-looking, half-million dollar townhomes on trash-filled streets where longtime residents feel anger at being pushed out, anger that eventually turns to apathy, and then, eventually, a sad acceptance.

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