Sheer Mag Break Down Their New Album Playing Favorites Track By Track: Exclusive

Track by Track is a recurring feature series in which artists guide readers through every song on their latest release. Today, Sheer Mag take us into their new record, Playing Favorites. The band’s Tina Halladay and Matt Palmer dive even deeper into the album on our Consequence UNCUT podcast, which presents the complete interview unedited for your listening pleasure below or wherever you get your podcasts.

Sheer Mag have returned with their first album in five years, Playing Favorites.  As the collection’s rousing title track suggests, Playing Favorites feels like a greatest hits collection from the Philly band. In addition to it being their first release since signing with Third Man Records last year, it’s a return to their classic, heavily-inspired rock sound while forging impressive new musical ground throughout.

The band — comprised of vocalist Tina Halladay and multi-instrumentalists Matt Palmer, Kyle Seely, and Hart Seely — have had Playing Favorites in the works for a while now, writing and recording the album over a three-year period. “My joke right now is when people ask if me if I’m excited about the album coming out, I tell them that I already heard it, so I’m not as excited,” Halladay jokes over a video call alongside songwriter and rhythm guitarist Matt Palmer.


Get Sheer Mag Tickets Here

Despite the album’s neatly-produced, charming air, Playing Favorites does signal a slight departure for Sheer Mag from their last album, A Distant Call. Certain tracks, like back-half cuts “Tea on the Kettle,” “When You Get Back,” and the emotional “Golden Hour,” bring a deeply earnest sense of devotion. Meanwhile, energetic numbers like “I Gotta Go” and “Eat It and Beat It” are examples of the band making great rock ‘n’ roll without taking themselves too seriously.

Palmer and Halladay both speak to the record’s variety, and name Steely Dan, The Eagles, and American folklore as some of the album’s influences. As evidence of that, they’ve added plenty of enjoyable backing vocals this time around — but throughout each song is Halladay’s inimitable voice, conjuring power and tenderness in some of her most impressive performances to date.

Listen to Sheer Mag’s Playing Favorites below, and read Matt Palmer and Tina Halladay’s Track by Track breakdown of the album — which includes a story about playing Playstation 5 while Mdou Moctar recorded a guest guitar solo for “Mechanical Garden.”


Grab tickets to Sheer Mag’s 2024 North American tour here.