Sheer Mag — PURE DESIRE (live performance)

On my bed
You took my hand and then you said,
“Don’t you crave the rush?”

Chris Lee of Supagroup once made a claim that though there was a lot of rock music in the late 90s, there wasn’t much rock & roll. What he meant by this distinction was that there was a heavy emphasis within the rock music community of his time on making artistic statements regarding heavy sociopolitical issues (Pearl Jam, Bad Religion, Public Enemy et al) but not much rock music that was made for the explicit purpose of fun. This lineage has continued on to the 00’s, the 10’s and will likely carry on into the 20’s. The majority of the partisan rock community will seek out state-of-the-union type Artistic Statements and a small minority will treasure

Sheer Mag skirts the line between these two paradigms: one half of them is dedicated to fist-in-the-air rabble-rousing and the other half equally committed to getting those hips shaking. (‘skirt the line’ is perhaps the wrong phrase, Sheer Mag trample, they groove and they hammer but they do not tread lightly, musically, ideologically or otherwise). At their heart, their sense of conflict does not merely center around the typical mainstream/underground debate, but in the rockist/poptimist duality.

Much has been made of their 70s hard rock influence, but it’s easy to overlook that this form of music was pop during its time and was only co-opted later by generations down the line as Serious Music made by Serious Artists. That being said, it’s an important move for Sheer Mag to include several dance tracks on this record. Pure Desire is positively disco, a form that’s immortally pop, and even more disconcerting when you remember that there once was a time in the late 70s where rock enthusiasts declared the format a plague and burned records in a football field. Those times have long since past though, disco basslines co-exist with hard rock guitar noodle-age and have done so for quite some time. Sheer Mag‘s mastery of both forms pays tribute to this shifting dynamic.

Like their UK counterparts, Martha, they concern themselves with important issues, framing most of their potent lyrics within a working class vs the oppressive elite dynamic. However, like their British kins, they too understand the power of the groove, a utilitarian weapon against the all-enslaving work grind. Based upon a sturdy danceable drumbeat, up-and-down bassline, simultaneously chorused and chicken-scratched guitars, the vocalist does not pontificate on the politics of the physical and gets right down to the business of extemporizing the carnal.

They want us to meet them on the street and, with this song, they tell us why.

RIYL: Motown Greatest Hits, Nuggets Comps, Ripping-the-plastic-off-your-newly-purchased-records