Sheer Mag, Swearin'
The Number Ones
1811 14th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Sheer Mag's logo looks like the cover of an early hard rock record—all-caps font, jagged lettering. It seems appropriate, then, that at the outset of their 7" opener "What You Want", there's a guitar line with the same approximate structure as the central portion of Kiss' "Strutter". It's a fleeting-but-important moment—within the first few seconds of impact, they emphasize the "power" half of power pop. They bust out guitar solos that fly high. Their singer spits out words like, "What you want? What do you want me to do?," seemingly delivered more out of frustration than desperation. That tinge of anger—heard both in their vocals and their scuzzy junkyard guitar sound—is the perfect complement to "What You Want"'s swooning, power chord-driven melody. It's that ideal balance between sweet and sour. The track, one of four very good ones on their new 7", is an exciting introduction to this Philadelphia band.
Swearin' operates and shines like a well-oiled, pragmatic machine. Their complimentary personalities, solid work-ethic, and similar backgrounds in DIY punk, have helped them thrive. Formed in 2011 in Brooklyn, Allison Crutchfield (guitar) and Kyle Gilbride (guitar) had been making demos for nearly a year before inviting Keith Spencer (bass) into the equation. The trio eventually added longtime friend and Philadelphia resident Jeff Bolt on drums, releasing their demo EP What a Dump shortly thereafter.
The demo received instant praise from Brooklyn's indie punk scene and beyond. It combined the sounds of Gilbride and Crutchfield's prior bands (Big Soda and P.S. Eliot, respectively) while stretching into new territories of fuzzed guitars and compounded song structures.
In 2012, Swearin' released their debut self-titled LP, on which their dynamic and sound fully starts to emerge and flourish. Here, each member brings their own patterns and rolodex of influences to the table, creating a uniquely inviting and complex album. Crutchfield's vocals are smooth and her lyrics are sharp and personal. Gilbride produces a wall of layered guitars, saccharine hooks, and his own specific ear in the recording process. (He records and produces all of their music.) Spencer makes his first appearance as a songwriter in the band, delivering some of the most diverse songs to the album ('Divine Mimosa' and 'Kill Em' with Kindness'). Finally, Jeff Bolt remains powerful and heavy while committing totally to servicing the songs.
The album received much critical acclaim and the band went on to do several successful US tours. They have since relocated to Philadelphia and released their sophomore album "Surfing Strange" via Salinas Records.