Through daytime television, tawdry paperbacks and pop-psych seminars, the self-help industry pulls in an annual $10 billion, promising the secrets to defeat procrastination, de-clutter the home and achieve the body one has always imagined living in.
Because we all strive to be better, everyone is guilty of some self-help motivator. Mine is Sheer Mag, a straight-up rock 'n' roll band from Philadelphia that's tighter, tauter, hotter and more powerful than your favorite athlete's ass. When I need a pick-me-up or an attaboy, I turn to the quintet's rippin' trio of EPs. The combo of singer Tina Halladay's voice — like Etta James compressed through a tin can — and guitarist Kyle Seely's indomitable uncle-rock shredding resets any bad attitude and psychs me the fuck up.
Before dates and after breakups, I listen to Sheer Mag. For basketball warm-ups and watching hockey fights, I listen to Sheer Mag. I think I could bear a major and un-anesthetized surgery with only a tall beer and "What You Want" booming out of a fine rig of speakers.
Short for "Sheer Magnitude," the quintet emerged from the Irish and Italian American enclave of South Philly — the neighborhood pictured in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Like the best moments of the absurd townie comedy, Sheer Mag's combo of '70s radio rock, punk grit and anti-capitalist attitude makes you want to pump fists and get drunk on a roof with your oldest friends.
Like a $5 burger-fries combo or doing whip-its in the back of a mini-van, Sheer Mag acts as a great American equalizer — a cheap, euphoric experience anyone can enjoy. Put EPs I through III on the stereo for your vaping "Let's Make America Great Again" step-dad and your coolest feeling-the-Bern friend and they'll want to cross the aisle to head bang, swap denim jackets and slam Budweiser. On three four-song EPs the band has delivered only hits, writing perfect stadium licks in the house-show setting. Think Thin Lizzy in the hands of your favorite garage combo.
On Twitter last year, comedian Wint wrote, "its fucked up how there are like 1000 christmas songs but only 1 song aboutr [sic] the boys being back in town." But thank the lords of rock 'n' roll, Sheer Mag is coming through to divine Phil Lynott's ghost one EP at a time.