Sheer Mag: Playing Favorites (Third Man) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  

Sheer Mag

Playing Favorites

Third Man

Mar 07, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Philadelphia four-piece Sheer Mag are a band that manage a rare trick. Interlacing classic rock with NYC-inspired punk, they offer the warm satisfaction of the former while exuding the street cool and incisiveness of the latter. In Christina Halladay they have a singer who belts out disco melodies as easily as dispensing bittersweet soul.

On Playing Favorites the band deliver you into a world where melancholic romance butts heads with unforgiving heartbreak and knowing naivete is tempered by brash cynicism. All aspects come with gobs of moreish Motown melody and exuberant riffola.

Playing with abandon, the band tear through empowering break-up bangers like “Eat It and Beat It” and “Don’t Come Lookin’” with a sort of glee and recklessness that belies the guile needed to make it sound like it comes so easy.

With heartwarming love songs, such as the ravishing, regretful “I Gotta Go” and the brilliant bounce of “Moonstruck,” they toss out huge hooks and bewitching balladry that’s fresh, raw, and intoxicating. A lot of the magic comes from Halladay, whose thrilling voice leaps and lurches over the screaming lead guitar of Kyle Seely and relentless rhythm from Matt Palmer and Hart Seely.

The no-bullshit attitude of “All Lined Up” celebrates barroom joys even as Halladay allows that “Oh I fall to pieces / Cause I had ‘em all lined up,” turning a pool game into a funny, sad story of resilience and hope—“This world’s cold and we’re alone / But we’re not just drifting through outer space.”

This half-smiling honesty is best captured on “Tea on the Kettle,” which declares true kindness and adoration (“As long as I got a biscuit, you got half”) and on closer “When You Get Back,” a promise that heats the heart while acknowledging the heartache distance brings—“I’ll be so full of joy but now I’m sad and blue / So come back, I need you” are the lines that cap off the album, a neat display of the balance of sorrow and delight that characterize it.

What’s largely great about Playing Favorites is just how FUN it is, a rambunctious rock ‘n’ roll record with a big heart and a smart mouth. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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