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Song You Need to Know: Sheer Mag, ‘Blood From a Stone’

Anthemic track detailing “hard luck living” previews the no-nonsense Philadelphia rockers’ upcoming album ‘A Distant Call’

Before today, Sheer Mag had released less than 25 songs, but their sound is still instantly recognizable. Less than 10 seconds into the Philadelphia rockers’ new single — the first track released from their upcoming second LP A Distant Call — as vocalist Tina Halladay enters, singing “All damn day I been waiting on line” in her trademark gritty belt over a lean, badass riff, you know exactly who you’re hearing.

From the time of their first EP in 2014, Sheer Mag’s aesthetic has been laser-focused: retro-minded, R&B-inflected pop filtered through a street-tough punk-meets-metal lens. In a 2017 Rolling Stone interview, the band’s lead guitarist, Kyle Seely, and his brother, bassist Hart, cited early influences including tech-metal and math rock but stressed that the sturdiness of the tunes was their main priority. “For me, the fun thing is just making great pop songs, basically,” Kyle said.

That devotion to their craft has made the majority of the band’s output to date — three EPs, later compiled into an anthology, and 2017’s outstanding Need to Feel Your Love — feel unusually timeless. With its narrative of “hard luck living,” detailing financial hardship on the heels of a romantic one, and compact structure, “Blood From a Stone” is another readymade anthem from a band that seems incapable of writing a song that doesn’t fit that description.

And, also like many Sheer Mag songs, the track — which comes bundled with a lyric video featuring grainy footage of Halladay — crams an uncanny amount of ear candy into its brief running time: a series of busy yet hooky riffs from Kyle, tasty clean-toned background guitar lines, a yearning chorus (“But I won’t cry / Cuz I should have known / That to get some comfort from your aching heart / Is blood from a stone”), a brief synth cameo and a couple of choice howls from Halladay. Like the best minimalists in any medium, Sheer Mag never skimp on the details.

A Distant Call is out August 23rd via the band’s own Wilsuns RC label and is available for preorder now. Sheer Mag will be on tour for much of the summer and fall.

Sheer Mag tour dates
June 22 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
June 24 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
June 25 – Olympia, WA @ Capitol Theater
June 26 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
June 28 – Reno, NV @ Holland Project
June 29 – Las Vegas, NV @ American Legion Hall
June 30 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory
July 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
July 3 – San Diego, CA @ Irenic
July 5 – Fresno, CA @ Strummers
July 6, July 7 – Oakland, CA @ Burger Boogaloo
August 30 – Kingston, NY @ BSP Kingston
August 31 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
September 1 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
September 3 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
September 4 – Detroit, MI @ Deluxx Fluxx
September 5 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
September 6 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
September 7 – Madison, WI @ The Terrace at UW@Madison
September 8 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
September 9 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
September 10 – Omaha, NE @ The Slowdown
September 12 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
September 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
September 14 – Boise, ID @ The Olympic
September 16 – Vancouver, BC @ The Biltmore
September 21 – San Jose, CA @ The Ritz
September 22 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
September 24 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
September 26 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda
September 27 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
September 28 – Houston, TX @ The Satellite
September 29 – New Orleans, LA @ Santo’s
October 1 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
October 2 – Atlanta, GA @ 529 Club
October 3 – Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
October 4 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall
October 5 – Washington, DC @ The Black Cat
October 9 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
October 11 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
October 25 – Amsterdam, NL @ London Calling Festival
October 26 – Aarhus, DEN @ Tape
October 27 – Copenhagen, DEN @ Loppen
October 29 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
October 30 – Berlin, DE @ Zukunft am Ostkreuz
November 2 – London, UK @ Mirrors Festival
November 4 – Manchester, UK @ Yes
November 5 – Dublin, IR @ Grand Social
November 6 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
November 8 – Kortrijk, BE @ Sonic City 2019
November 9 – Benidorm, ESP @ Primavera 20th Aniv, Weekender

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