Saturday, July 4, 2020

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tarnished), Project 906 Updates, And Much More!!

Another July 4th is here, so of course, Happy Independence Day to our American readers! Coincidentally, The Sault Metal Scene launched 13 years ago today on our original Facebook group, and of course, I would like to thank all of our readers and local musicians for all of their support and content over the past year, especially so over the past four months! At this point last year, I never would have guessed that a global pandemic would pump the brakes on the local concert calendar and make us swap over to a new normal, but as you saw with our 91 day posting streak from March-June, I was able to get new content out there to keep everyone informed as best as I could. The summer concert season has been decimated due to social distancing measures, though with Spun allegedly coming to St. Ignace next month, and the LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (yes) ahead, you can see that the Sault Michigan area is trying to bring some semblance of a live concert schedule back.

I'm hoping the worst of the coronavirus pandemic has came and went, especially given how the Algoma District and Chippewa County case counts have been small so far, but with fears of a second wave ever present, I hope everyone is being cautious and safe, and hopefully we'll have a full concert schedule for the summer of 2021. Thanks again to everyone for their support over the past 13 years, and now, let's dive into some big Sault Michigan news!

Barring another COVID-19 lockdown, Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished will play their first public concert since the spring on Saturday, July 18th when they headline the "Rock the Block" event at Crooked Music at 540 Ashmun Street! Yes, this will reportedly be inside the music store, despite the obvious space limitations brought about by social distancing, Tarnished confirmed as much on their Facebook page on June 19th. That said, they are encouraging social distancing and face masks, so if you do attend, please use common sense to keep everyone safe, and maybe more shows could happen in the near term. This will be Tarnished's first live show with new drummer Gary Croad, and their first show as a plugged-in quartet since October, so if you've missed Tarnished's full band setup in 2020, this will be worth your time! Three opening acts were sought in the above Facebook post on June 19th, and they are now confirmed, including Detroit hard rock quartet Letters From Abel in their local debut!

Having a downstate band open for a local band may seem atypical, but Letters From Abel are relatively new from what I have read, and they do have a Sault tie, as their drummer is Midnight Logic alum Kade Desarmo. You can see them cover Nirvana at this link, and they are a promising young group! The other acts are solo musicians, including singer/guitarist Kevin Blakeney, who you may recognize from the last three Rudyard Musicians Festivals, and who does have grunge and alternative songs in his repertoire. The other performer is St. Ignace solo artist Austin Graham, who performs under the name Grayham Entertainment. I don't know what he plays, but you can find out tomorrow when he performs at The Club at Breakers in St. Ignace. Note that Tarnished's online ticket page advertises Illinois blues project Concreteslim as playing on July 18th, but it looks like Kevin replaced them for unannounced reasons.

An all ages event with a 6:00 PM matinee start time, Rock The Block will have $10 admission at the door or via online tickets purchased above. Of course, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is not magically going away in the next two weeks, and while I hope this show goes off without a hitch and with all of the proper safety measures, the situation is volatile, as evidenced by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state. If this concert is cancelled, postponed, or relocated, we will let you know, but fingers crossed everything works out for everyone involved! See the above links for more details!

Finally, let's look at ex-Tarnished drummer Tommy Korcal's current local hard rock band Project 906, who have been staying busy during the pandemic working on original songs for a planned debut EP! On June 21st, the guys revealed on their Facebook page that they hope to record it later this year or in early 2021. Fans may have seen them play originals live on occasion, but now you can hear copies recorded from their jam room (I'd guess), starting with a fully public re-upload of "It's So Easy". Other original song names include "The Comeback" (watch them perform it live here), "Walk On", and "8th and Nowhere", but embedded below is their newest song posted on Thursday, entitled "The Lonely Few". I'll hold comment on the songs for now, in deference to the album review that will follow the EP's release, but it's great to see Project 906 staying busy and productive while they can't play live! Get more updates above and below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site next week! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Where Are The New Albums? July 2020 Update

It's now time for this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post, as we continue looking at the current release statuses and whereabouts of announced & upcoming albums from Sault Ontario metal, hard rock, and punk artists! Unfortunately, this installment is basically in a holding pattern, with only photo restorations and some minor date edits for this month's six entries, but remember that the ongoing pandemic may still be throwing a wrench into plans for some acts. In any event, where are the new albums? Read on below to hopefully find out!
The Bear Hunters - The Dead Testament

Rumoured Songs: "The Void", "The Omen", "Neckbreaker", "I Fear No God", "Servitude", "Transcend Judgement", "For Glory", "The Wrath Of Angmar", "The Dying Den", "The Dead Testament", "Deception" (bonus re-recording), "The Forest of Forests" (bonus track)

Background: In tentative planning since 2014 under this title, local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters have been playing songs intended for their second full length CD for a few years now, but only fully began recording sessions for "The Dead Testament" on October 2nd, 2015. Following a brief fundraising campaign and the gradual unveiling of song titles, the band has been working with producer Dustin Jones at Mission Control Studios, and have shared sporadic updates on their Instagram page. Like on 2014's "Eternal Hibernation", rhythm guitarist Josh Stephney has recorded parts for the album despite living in Southern Ontario. The music video for "I Fear No God" was posted on YouTube in December 2018, marking the first public release of a song from the CD, while the final cover artwork and full track listing order were posted on their Facebook page in February 2019.

Current Release Status: The Bear Hunters haven't given any firm timetables for when to expect "The Dead Testament" in stores, and they have not publically referenced the album on social media in over a year, but recording sessions are reportedly complete, and they have played live since then. The band is aiming for a more professional sound and release for their sophomore effort, and to go along with that, artwork and physical distribution plans are ongoing, as are "a ton of cool ideas for stepping our media game up." Keep an eye out for updates on "The Dead Testament" when and if they come in!
Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide's fourth album

Rumoured Songs: "Lost & Found", "All Broke Down"

Background: After a lengthy hiatus dating back to the summer of 2016, local Celtic punk veterans Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide resumed public activity in early 2018, later beginning recording sessions by that October at Dustin's own Mission Control Studios, as per their Facebook page. The band confirmed that they were indeed recording a fourth studio album (and first in 7 years) in January 2019, which will presumably be released through Tidal Records, and will also be their first album with second guitarist Liam Seymour and drummer Chris Johns. A 22 second teaser of the first single "Lost & Found" was posted on Facebook, and it's official music video was released in March 2019, while "All Broke Down" was initially cited as the first single in December 2018 (source here.)

Current Release Status: When The Tide shared the above teaser clip, they mentioned that the album was "coming soon", which doesn't tell us much. With recording sessions a few months in, and it's intended song now out via the music video, it's likely that Dustin and company aren't early in the process, but we'll let you know when more comes out on their highly anticipated fourth album as we proceed in the new year!
The Elements' debut EP 

Rumoured Songs: "Liar", "G20", "Triple H", "The Rut", "I Need A Friend", "Riptide"

Background: Arguably better known for their funk, ska, and hard rock covers, local quartet The Elements have been adding original material to their sets since 2015, and have since publically confirmed earlier teases that they are working on a debut EP. Frontman Rob Speers has confirmed in personal conversations in early 2016 that they have been working in studio on the release, which will have at least 5 tracks, and I believe it's being self-recorded, but further public updates are minimal at best. A studio recording of "I Need A Friend" was quietly posted onto their Facebook page in February, following personal Facebook postings that revealed that EP sessions were further along than public statements indicated, though they have not elaborated since.

Current Release Status: At this stage, I have no idea, but Rob sounded like things were going well in studio. That said, these were largely personal conversations over a year ago, and it's anyone's guess when The Elements will provide a public statement corroborating the private teasers. I won't go into detail on that front unless the band does or gives permission, so we'll have to see if updates come out on it soon!
Mike Haggith - Bridges

Rumoured Songs: "From The 55th Parallel", "Over Indecision", "The Nature of The Times","An Act of Strength","The Catalyst", "Dangerous Town", "Come on Home", "Blue Highway", "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost", "Bridges"

Background: After moving to Thompson, Manitoba in November 2017, prolific local/Windsor hard/alternative rock musician Mike Haggith relaunched his dormant solo project, and soon commenced work on a new CD named "Bridges", which finished recording sessions in early 2019. His Facebook page has documented songwriting sessions, acoustic videos of new original songs, plus solo concerts in Thompson largely featuring new tracks. Despite the unveiling of the cover artwork, three singles, and even a music video for "The Nature of The Times", Mike indefinitely postponed the release of "Bridges" late last year due to mixing delays, personal life concerns, and the quick development of a new album named "If Ever Comes The Day", which was released last month.

Current Release Status: Mike has confirmed in his #LockdownLive concerts that "Bridges" will be released by the end of the year, and for an album with completed recording sessions, artwork, and single releases, that could be a conservative guess. With Mike's candor & honesty, you know he won't hide anything regarding "Bridges", so keep tabs for updates, but watch #LockdownLive IV to hear the whole album unplugged and hear his side of the album's progress and delays as of April!
Pillory's second CD

Rumoured Songs: "Angst of Existence", "Sculptor of Cadavers", "Wasting", "Abhorred Apprehension", "The Passing", "Exhaustive Incarnation"

Background: After previously breaking up in mid-2014, local metal band Pillory returned as a trio in the fall of 2015, trading their thrash metal roots for a heavier death metal sound, complete with a completely overhauled setlist with no carried-over originals from their 2013 debut EP. In March 2017, Id Iota guitarist Dustin Goodall's recording studio Unsalted Audio revealed that they were in pre-production for Pillory's second album, with the band confirming that sessions were underway that summer. As of July 2017, drum tracks were complete, though it took until November 2018 for the band to confirm that guitar tracking was underway, with vocals & mixing to follow. It's not clear who will provide bass tracks on the final product, between ex-bassist Jordan Leach, his replacement Blair St. John, frontman Robert Sartini (who played bass on their first EP), or a combination therein.

Current Release Status: I have no idea, and it doesn't help that Pillory have only posted once on Facebook in the past 3 years, though their new lineup returned from year-long hiatuses twice in that span for opening sets at Live705 death metal shows at The Rockstar Bar. That said, with their increasingly brutal and technical sound, hopefully they can get this album complete down the line!
Treble Charger's sixth album

Rumoured Songs: Unknown

Background: While recording a brand new album was a common teaser in Treble Charger's post-reunion concerts in the mid-late 2010s, the local/Toronto indie punk icons only gave a firm public confirmation that they were indeed working on their sixth CD in this Sault Star article in September. The recording sessions reportedly began last spring, and as of the interview, four or five demos were recorded, though things were on hold at the time while they waited for studio at the Algoma Conservatory of Music (that frontman Greig Nori is managing) to finish construction before final recordings take place there. Guitarist Bill Priddle's Pointless bandmate Dustin Goodall will record bass tracks for the album, though it's not clear who will handle drums.

Current Release Status: I am not sure, but when the announcement is made regarding completion of the Algoma Conservatory studio, that may give a hint as to a timeline. Also, remember that Treble Charger do not have a regularly maintained social media account, so things may progress faster than public statements come out. In any event, Treble Charger will want to ensure that everything goes perfect for the album, so stay tuned!
I hope you guys liked this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post, such as it is, and hopefully we have some more additions and updates to make next month! Our next monthly feature post will be this month's Defunct Local Band Profile, which will drop around one week from tomorrow. That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news and notes shortly! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

New Live-Streamed Videos From Tym Morrison & Heavy Lies The Crown!!

Happy Canada Day to our Canadian readers! Today's post is devoted to new videos, starting with local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison's 24th and 25th live-streamed concerts, which took place on his YouTube channel on Thursday and yesterday, and for the first time since May, his Tuesday night show was not cut short due to technical difficulties! We'll start with Thursday's show, which begins after just 30 seconds of the "Starting Soon" card. In order, Tym kicks off the set with renditions of the Travelling Wilburys' "Handle With Care", Extreme's "More Than Words", The Beatles' "Blackbird", and The Eagles' "Desperado", before he left briefly to reconnect his microphone to his pedal, returning in time to play a jazz instrumental. Next, Tym tackles Trooper's "We're Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time)", Mr. Big's "To Be With You", his Spanish guitar instrumental, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", Night Ranger's "Sister Christian", Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction", ...

...Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself)", The Beatles' "Yesterday", White Lion's "When The Children Cry", Garth Brooks' "The Dance", John Lennon's "Imagine" (with altered lyrics reflecting Tym's Christianity), Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", Abba's "The Winner Takes It All", Aerosmith's "Dream On", Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny", Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman", Styx's "Sail Away", Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke", Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69", and finally, Amanda Marshall's "Trust Me (This Is Love)". The video did get laggy at points, but Tym's music was soundly performed as ever, and there was a nice selection of familiar songs from his past live-streams to take in, plus a couple of newer cuts (and keep an eye out for his dog!) As for yesterday's live-stream, that is embedded below, and it immediately starts with no "Starting Soon" card whatsoever.

This set features Tym performing Oasis' "Wonderwall", Don McLean's "American Pie", Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", Prince & The Revolution's "When Doves Cry", The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black", Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud", Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver", Metallica's "Enter Sandman", Billy Joel's "You May Be Right", The Romantics' "What I Like About You", Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall", The Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon", Extreme's "Hole Hearted", Days of the New's "Touch, Peel, and Stand", The Who's "Pinball Wizard", Chicago's "Hard To Say I'm Sorry", an instrumental composition, Little Texas' "What Might Have Been", Richard Marx's "Hold On To The Nights", Berlin's "Take My Breath Away", Frozen Ghost's "Dream Come True", and finally, Kim Mitchell's "All We Are". Another well done and selected set with no repeating songs from last Thursday, and it's great to see the Tuesday show going the distance for a change! Give it a look below, see more above, and look for his next live-streamed concert tomorrow!

Finally for today, we'll close in St. Ignace, Michigan for a new live-streamed video from local progressive metal quintet Heavy Lies The Crown's Facebook page on Monday! Much shorter than their usual live-streams, this starts off with bassist Danny Tucker telling viewers that they are just working on finishing touches for their upcoming full-length album, before turning the camera on his bandmates working in studio, and you do hear some samples from the sessions. Brutal sounding, as you would expect, but these are just teasers from the computer. Intriguing overall, so give it a look below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post on the site tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Full Recap On Mike Haggith's #LockdownLive "Quarterly Report"!!

As you may have bore witness to on Saturday, local/Thompson, Manitoba solo musician Mike Haggith hosted his 13th and final weekly #LockdownLive at-home concert on his Facebook page, before the series moves to a monthly format without a fixed schedule. With that said, let's spend today's post recapping it in full, as has recently been the case! The theme of #LockdownLive XIII was "The Quarterly Report", where Mike revisits and looks back on the initial 12 installments of the series, and with Brandan back in the live-stream comments, you know this will be fun! After discussing the origin of the series and it's evolution from a bored whim to a weekly event, he noted that he plans to perform his favourite song from each individual episode so far, with the fan-nominated cover at the end. After discussing the hour-long, theme-less #LockdownLive I from March, he plays his opening song from that night, "The Nature Of The Times" from his next CD "Bridges".

FYI, you can also hear that in #LockdownLive IV, which was themed around "Bridges" in full. After re-iterating the rules of the share contest for Saturday despite the now monthly format for the series, Mike calls frequent viewer Alexandra Parker to make the rules for the return of this week's fabled drinking game. Once the call ends, Mike revisits #LockdownLive II (which spotlighted the upcoming release of his newest album "If Ever Comes The Day"), from which he plays "MorningStar", which he also tackled in #LockdownLive I, V, VII , and VIII. Mike next looks back on #LockdownLive III, which was focused around his last local band The Din, and he plays their song "Missing", which also appeared in #LockdownLive I & VII. Next up is a look back at the aforementioned #LockdownLive IV, and Mike plays another "Bridges" cut, "From The 55th Parallel", which Mike noted will likely get a formal single release in advance of the album finally coming out.

Mike next dives into the covers-heavy #LockdownLive V, from which he covers Coldplay's "The Scientist", before looking at #LockdownLive VI, where he looked at his Sault Ste. Marie-era solo back catalogue. From that, he performed "Cowardly Hearts Beneath The Stars" from his 2014 album "A Place Of Our Own" again. We pass the halfway point by looking back on #LockdownLive VII, which doubled as the virtual release concert for "If Ever Comes The Day" (as filmed at a still-undisclosed secret locale), though Mike doesn't do a song from the album. Instead, he goes to a cover with a lot of personal resonance, Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", which was also heard in #LockdownLive IV-V and XI. Next was #LockdownLive VIII (themed "The Real Back Catalogue" with a focus on his Windsor-era albums), where he plays "Long Distance" from 2009's "The Curse Was The Cure".

The last third of "The Quarterly Report" begins with a call to Mike's old Din bandmate Brandan Glew, which is appointment listening enough! This prefaces Mike revisiting #LockdownLive IX, where he spotlighted musicians and songs he liked from here in Sault Ste. Marie, but rather than play favourites for a local act, Mike instead brings back the song Brandan nominated for winning the previous week's share contest, namely The Gourds' version of Snoop Dogg's "Gin & Juice", which was also in #LockdownLive XI (and yes, look for "Bob Dylan"!) Next, Mike looks back on #LockdownLive X, which spotlighted his mid-2010s local grunge/hard rock band Haggith, and he plays their old song "75", as previously heard on #LockdownLive III as well. Afterwards, Mike touches on #LockdownLive XI, which was themed around favourite covers he performed in prior episodes, and Mike brings back Prince & The Revolution's "Purple Rain", which debuted in #LockdownLive VII.

"The Quarterly Report" ends with #LockdownLive XII (themed around Mike's high school-era bands in Windsor), and he tackles The Thorns' 2010 original ""A Quarter Mile At A Time". As promised, Mike closes his set with his fan-mandated cover, as last week's winner Tianna Rice nominated him to cover The Jonas Brothers' relatively new song "What A Man Gotta Do", and yes, he puts on his legendary dragon onesie for the occasion. I will say this, Mike's cover is better than the original, and has a good folksy intensity! In the last few minutes, Mike outlines the complete metrics for hits, comments, and shares and such from the first 12 episodes, before outlining the growth of the #LockdownLive series, thanking everyone for the engagement, hyping the private group's afterparty that night, and reiterating the plans for the series now that it will only be held monthly, including the planned polls to pick the dates and themes.

Effective and entertaining way to end the #LockdownLive series' weekly era, and there were a lot of fun songs to recap for the occasion! I am slightly surprised by the amount of covers, but hey, they're songs Mike loves, after all! My big issue with episode #13 is that he took a little too much time outlining the metrics behind each individual video, but it is interesting to see what videos got the most and least engagement. Check out #LockdownLive XIII below, and stay tuned for our post-show coverage and more news & notes on the site later this week! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Inner City Surfers - "Laughing On The Outside" CD Review!!

It's now time for our 132nd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and this month, we're dipping into the archives again with things still creeping along during the pandemic. That said, I am tying in this review with recent events (namely local punk musician Mikey Hawdon's 100 daily "quarantunes", a.k.a. Mikey & His Uke), so let's finally take a look at his band The Inner City Surfers' second CD "Laughing On The Outside"! Independently released in 2002, this album was recorded in September 2001 at Insight Recorders in Toronto with producer (and Mikey's future Fairmounts bandmate) Simon Head, before being mixed by Joao Carvalho at Umbrella Sound. As usual, The Surfers are represented here by their classic lineup, including Mikey on drums alongside singer/guitarist Dustin Jones, guitarist Dave Bahun, and Brad "Example" Lacell on bass. CD copies of "Laughing On The Outside" are now out of print, but it is still readily available online.

You can buy this album or stream it for free on services like Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Soundcloud, YouTube, and Spotify, with download copies running for between $7.99 and $10.49, while CD copies could turn up at your favourite used record locales. Song names below are linked to their YouTube copies. Also, note that three songs on this CD were later re-recorded for The Surfers' self-titled "black album" in 2007, but we will approach the new versions when we review that album on the site.

With 11 songs running for almost 37 minutes, let's begin this review with the first song, "Figure It Out"! Opening in full on fast-paced skate punk mode, the driving guitar work is really good, and Dustin's melodic vocals are very fitting on the verses and in the effective stop/start choruses. It's a very straightforward song with no major diversions, but it's punchy and works extremely well, though at times, Mikey's drums did sound buried beneath the guitar. Still, a very entertaining and up-tempo way to start the CD! Next is "Booze N' Doobs", which is the first song here to later be re-recorded on "The Black Album". This song slows things down with more of a country vibe that will definitely please Rising Tide fans, with far more reserved vocals. The song's lyrical themes lend itself well to making this the band's signature drinking song, and while it's not my cup of tea, it fits that way! The drums  and Dave's twangy solo compliments the song well, but punk diehards may be disappointed.

Another song to return on the 2007 CD is next, namely "Screwed",  which tonally splits the difference between the preceding songs with an upbeat, steady rhythm and nice guitar picking before the choruses ramp things up a little more. The folksy side collides with punk in a good way here, so fans of both sides will find things to like, and I like Brad's bass work, though I didn't find that Dave's spare-yet-distorted guitar solo meshed well at all. Pleasant song that works on it's own merits! The album's shortest song follows, namely "Whole New Day", and this is another laid back song, harbouring more of their country side again while also being more down-tempo. Honestly, Dustin's singing isn't at it's clearest for me here, and it can be hard to make out the lyrics, but the guitar solo is effective. The composition's good, but it's too short and vocally muddled for me to recommend as is.

Fifth up is "Step Back", and if you were waiting for more fast-paced punk action, this will do the trick! That said, the guys play at a steady, relentless pace that only really pauses to breathe for a second at a time, and for me, I wish the song had more melody to it than this. While well performed, the vocals are mostly at one constant level, and the song doesn't really switch gear until slowing down for the coda. It's not a bad song, but I prefer songs with more of a melodic variance. Next is "T.V.", which has a slower, almost 1990s alternative rock flavour which I wasn't expecting, and that's saying something for a Surfers album! Like on "Whole New Day", the vocals are not overly clear at this register, and oddly, the song doesn't really have a proper chorus either, just instrumental bridges. Musically, I like the sound (reminds me of Weezer a bit), and the guitar and bass work are extra fitting, but the vocals don't add much to it.

The seventh track is "Won't Belong", which is the last of the three songs to be revisited on "The Black Album". After some very bluegrass-esque guitar picking, this songs gets into old school country territory, and if it wasn't for their vocal tones, you'd never guess this was the Surfers! In this case, multiple band members share vocal duties, which is effectively handled. This is a well performed and mixed song that will satiate fans of their country sides, but for my tastes, it's not preferable. Then we have "Get High", which feels like a companion piece to "Booze 'N Doobs" in some respects, though here, the verses have a campfire sing-along vibe, contrasted with the heavier full-band choruses and bridge. I like the jump in tone here, and the laid-back majority of the song is well done with very solid singing and guitar work, so this is a sleeper pick on the album!

Next on the CD is "The Quest", which brings us back into punk territory with a nice galloping drum track, strong melodic vocals from Dustin, and a catchy overall rhythm! This isn't really a guitar showcase aside from the post-chorus bridges and the end of the song, but if you can get past that, it's a fun song with strong lyrics, and I like how everything is mixed on this one! The penultimate song is "Victims", which is by far the heaviest song on the CD, with aggressive nearly-screamed vocals and a much more aggressive, forceful guitar riff. Effectively, this is the "Ten Commandements" of this album, if not quite as free-wheeling, but it showcases The Surfers' ferocious side as well as you could expect, and it's a solid showcase for Brad on bass in particular! As a metalhead, I can definitely get behind this song as an album highlight, but the melodic aspects of some earlier songs were missed.

"Laughing On The Outside" closes with it's longest song, "3 am", but it's definitely a conceptual jump from earlier songs. We start with Dustin singing and playing acoustic guitar while lamenting his state in the world at 3:00 in the morning, as laid overtop background noise of what appears to be sounds of the city at 3:00 AM, but the full band kicks into alt-rock territory for brief stretch of heavier music that rocks while it lasts, and Dave really lets loose on guitar! The song ends with about 3 minutes of the overnight background audio from earlier. For what it is, it works as a closer!

So, what are my final thoughts on The Inner City Surfers' sophomore CD? Overall, this is an effective album that showcases the guys' musical growth since their self-titled "Blue Album", but for my musical preferences, things varied further beyond that here. Dustin Jones & Dave Bahun's guitar work was as solid as ever, Brad Example got lots of moments to shine on bass, Mikey Hawdon's drumming was reliably excellent, and Dustin's vocals were usually a solid fit across these 11 songs! In the two years that followed their debut, the Surfers' influences had definitely began evolving, with country and folk sounds moving into their track listing more, while punk songs were less of a focus, arguably only being the primary genre of four songs. In this sense, you see where The Surfers were going musically on their next two CDs, though of course, they never dropped punk entirely. For me, I enjoyed "Figure It Out" & "Victims" the most, while "Get High" was my favourite of the non-punk tracks.

Aside from my own genre tastes, my big issues with the CD were occasionally muddled and hard-to-hear vocals, and I would have liked to have heard more guitar solos from Dave than we go. That said, I liked this album for the musical talent and improved production on display, and while I prefer the songs on offer from their debut, the professionalism and musicianship brings this one to the same level, and gives us a strong preview of what was to come in 2007. Buy or stream "Laughing On The Outside" at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, but what's being reviewed on the site next month? At this point, I'm not sure, but check our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post on Thursday for hints as to what could be coming up. If no major new metal, hard rock, or punk albums come out from local musicians, I will jump into our archives once again, though due to our 6 month anti-bias buffer rule, it will not be of an Inner City Surfers or (Mike) Haggith album.

With no concerts next month to tie a review in with, could there be another reason to tie an album review in with something, or could I just pick a high profile un-reviewed CD for July? Time will tell, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site this week! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Mike Haggith Updates, Plus Some Long Overdue Concert Videos!!

Here's another new news post for your Saturday afternoon reading, and while it ends with some newly discovered concert footage from a show late last year, we're mostly focusing on some recent news and notes from a prominent solo musician. Here's what you should know!

In advance of tonight's final weekly #LockdownLive (more on that in a bit), local/Thompson, Manitoba alt-hard rock solo artist Mike Haggith was interviewed in this SooToday article by contributor & fellow local musician Chris Belsito on Monday, so what can be learned here? In the interview proper, Mike discusses his love of aviation (his day job and what he took at college here), his time in Sault Ste. Marie as a musician and fan of the local scene, his musical influences, his progression in studio recordings, his new CD "If Ever Comes The Day", the issues he feels personally about, and the postponed CD release show that we hope will take place in November. Aside from some nice insights about the album sessions and how Mike recorded it, there's no real scoops here, but it's a nice article done by two musicians with a lot of mutual respect, and it's a solid read for fans, so be sure to check it out above!

Next up, let's stay on a Mike Haggith trajectory, as his post-show for #LockdownLive XII took place on his Facebook page on Tuesday, so what is there to take in here? After promoting the above article he discussed what went down in last week's Windsor-heavy #LockdownLive episode, while also lamenting that he couldn't play at the Nickel Days festival in Thompson due to the pandemic, and promoted the free release of "Take Back The Moon" on Bandcamp on Sunday only for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Regarding future episodes, tonight's #LockdownLive XIII will be "The Quarterly Report", where Mike will spotlight the past installments, but this will be the last weekly installment due to the continued re-opening as the curve flattens (viewership has taken a hit since then too). As such, Mike is moving to a monthly format for future episodes, but he will open polls to determine optimal airdates that will work for his and fans' schedules.

Regarding last week's share contest for the person with the most engaged share of the live-stream getting to pick Mike's mandatory cover today, the winner (who got 5 likes and 54 comments) was regular viewer Tianna Rice, who nominated that Mike cover The Jonas Brothers' "What A Man Gotta Do", which Mike has a great initial reaction to! Surprisingly recent pick too, as that song only came out in January. Look for him to cover that one (reportedly in his dragon onesie again) at the end of tonight's episode! As for the fan-requested original on the post-show, Tianna requested the somewhat adult "The Snake" from Mike's 2015 CD "The Warinside", which he performs before wrapping the video and promoting tonight's episode once more. Entertaining and informative episode that helps set the groundwork for the series' future, so tune in tonight to hear #LockdownLive XIII, and check out the whole post-show from earlier this week below!

To close today's post, here's some overdue new live concert videos that we haven't featured on here! Foreign concept, right? During our research on the Oh!No Collective's YouTube channel for yesterday's feature profile, I was reminded that the videos there (and much more) were also on their Facebook page, and as it turns out, we never discussed the last concert footage they uploaded there before the pandemic began. On December 21st, the former Six, Two, Oh. hosted Oh!Noel, a mixed-genre holiday concert at The Rockstar Bar featuring surf rock instrumental band The Dynowaves and rappers Rick E & Kodex, and click on their names to see their well shot videos. The other band on this night was local alt-punk trio A Dire Setback, who Oh!No filmed twice for Facebook, including their cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" and, as embedded below, their original "Forget This Memory". Nice Christmas attire on the guys, including what appears to be an ugly sweater on Nick!

We're almost as far away from Christmas as you can get in the year (apologies for the delay), but these are fun videos overall from a good charitable event, and  while the audio is somewhat muffled at times, A Dire Setback and the other acts all perform to their strengths! Give these videos a watch above & below, and hopefully concerts will return in some form soon!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's CD review on the site tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Friday, June 26, 2020

YouTube Channel Profile Series: Oh!No Collective & Jonathan Spike

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profiles, as we continue our monthly spotlight of YouTube channels with content at least half devoted to local metal, hard rock, and/or punk musicians, in order to give them promotion for current readers to hopefully encourage hits and subscriptions! This month's random selection gave us a channel with just three videos from two different concerts, so I picked a single-video channel to round things out with, and there's some interesting stuff here for metal and punk fans alike! Here's what you should know!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Oh!No Collective (
Owner: A member of local concert promoters Oh!No Collective (formerly known as Six, Two, Oh. and Oh! Right Arm Promotions). Their exact identity isn't given, but my best guess would be co-founder Jamie Vincent

Channel Timeline: Launched on April 13th, 2019; Videos uploaded on December 9th, 2019

Channel Summary: Quietly launched prior to the agency's name change in September 2019, the Oh!No Collective channel only features three videos so far from two different concerts that they put on locally late last year.

Why You Should Watch: I recommend giving this channel a look to see what the Oh!No Collective was up to before the pandemic, and while they haven't posted much there yet, we may see more here when shows can safely happen again. That said, the Oh!No Facebook page has much more videos from their late 2019 concert slate to check out, including all three videos on the YouTube channel. If there were plans to re-post more Facebook videos on YouTube, then that has clearly fallen by the wayside in 2020. 

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

Black Mastiff at Loplops on Oct 21 '19:
The earliest video here (but last to be uploaded) is of Edmonton stoner/hard rock trio Black Mastiff headlining at LopLops Lounge on October 21st, and they can be seen here playing two songs (starting with their original "Downed By A Sound"). Their doomy southern rock has a nice groove to it in this performance, captured from two different camera angles, and while scheduling on Election Day (and a Monday) didn't help attendance whatsoever, this is a good introduction to Black Mastiff! Videos of local openers Man Feelings & Chase Wigmore were filmed for Facebook, but were not similarly uploaded to the YouTube channel.

SlumShine - Back In Blue & Blue Shift at Outspoken Brewing Dec 6 '19: Oh!No's other two videos are of local acoustic punk solo project Slumshine's headlining date at Outspoken Brewing on December 6th, including of their rendition of "Thrashmaster 10 Billion" and, in the channel's most popular video, their non-album songs "Back In Blue" and "Blue Shift". Well shot videos of Brent (pink ski mask in tow) in his element with these aggressively acoustic original songs, and the crowd sounds receptive! Despite a "special guest" also being advertised, Oh!No did not film that act for Facebook.

Jonathan Spike (
Owner: YouTube user Jonathan Spike, who I don't believe is locally based

Channel Timeline: Launched on October 17th, 2013; Only video uploaded on March 23rd, 2014

Channel Summary: Jonathan's only video is of
local/Toronto indie/punk veterans Treble Charger's music video for their hit original song "American Psycho" from their 2000 CD "Wide Awake Bored". As it turns out, this is a re-upload of the exact same copy of this video from 98Watts' channel in 2006, complete with Shrapnull Productions credits from an even earlier uploader. However, Jonathan did include song lyrics in the description, and he promised to start uploading gaming videos if he got one subscriber (which has happened, but no new videos of any kind have followed suit). Visit our profile of 98Watts channel from 2017 to read our full recap on the "American Psycho" video, but fans of Treble Charger's pop punk era won't be disappointed!


I hope you guys liked this month's  YouTube Channel Profiles! Next month in this series, we're back to a profile of a single channel, as our random selection is for Sault Michigan classical metal band Theatre of Night's channel! Consider it a Christmas in July feature, if you go for such things. Look for this on or around July 26th, and for more news soon! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New Video Uploads From Three Local Solo Musicians!!

We're back after a couple of quiet days with a new post devoted to recent videos from local solo musicians, and we'll start with local punk musician Mikey Hawdon's conclusion of his 100 days worth of quarantune videos on his YouTube channel! If you didn't catch the references in his descriptions on Facebook and YouTube, the daily videos of "Mikey & His Uke" ended yesterday with video #100, but he is not hanging up the ukelele, just dropping to a wider release schedule so he can work on new installments without a rushed deadline (and this is presumably easier with day jobs resuming too). As for the last three daily videos, Sunday's is of Blink-182's "Dammit" with guest musicians, while Monday's is of Goldfinger's "Wayne Gretzky" (fittingly as video #99) with that band's drummer Darren Pfeiffer on hand drums and his best full hockey equipment. Embedded below is video #100, a cover of Pennywise's "Bro Hymn" with a lot of special guests!

Like last week's cover of Operation Ivy's "Unity", this cover (Mikey's longest one yet) drops the ukelele pretense very early, and it has Mikey on lead vocals alongside members of Pennywise, The Offspring, Anti-Flag, Pulley, Good Riddance, and No Big Deal, plus Darren again, George Stroumboulopoulos (seriously), and lots of familiar faces providing the chorus "Whoas", including Mikey's old Lion Ride/Detroit bandmate Brenton Ellis (now of Slumshine.) Fittingly stacked closer to the series under it's original scheduling, and it's great to see how much it has grown over three past 3 months, so check out 'Bro Hymn" below, and see much more above!

Next up, Bridge Heads/ex-Haggith frontman Curtis McKenzie has thrown his hat into the live-streamed concert arena with an hour-long performance video on his Facebook page on Monday! Over three months after hyping a Twitch live-stream that never came, Curt began by making sure everything was in working order with his setup, and introduced his set by noting that he was open to taking questions (primarily about his music career) and requests from viewers. His set began with a cover of Weezer's "In The Garage", before mentioning his renewed promotion of his music and past band pages (he even reactivated PaperClip Productions' Facebook page!) Curtis next covers The Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song", before discussing the current status of The Bridge Heads, who only played live once before the pandemic hit and guitarist Daniel Horton moved out of town for work reasons. Curt noted that The Bridge Heads are currently planning to proceed as a trio.

While he would ostensibly be their lead singer and guitarist short term, Curtis is open to focusing on one or the other should they bring on a fourth band member. Sounds like an adaptable plan, and hopefully we see Dan back on a local stage down the road! Curt covers Collective Soul's "December", Three Days Grace's "Wake Up", and Alice In Chains' "No Excuses" next, before reiterating his current music plans, which are primarily around The Bridge Heads rather than fully resuming his solo project (he noted earlier in the video that this live-stream was more to get updated content out there.) The set resumes with covers of Lifehouse's "Hanging By A Moment", Weezer's "My Name Is Jonas", and NOFX's "Bob", before Curtis reflects on his work with the band Haggith, running through a brief Cliffs Notes version of their history. He plays their original song "Clifton Hill" from their "Deuce" album, as well as the untitled bonus track at the album's end.

Curt moves back into covers to close, including The Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush", and two System of a Down songs ("Lonely Day" & "Toxicity"), as dedicated to his 2015-2017 hard rock band Eclipse. Overall, this was a fun set with lots of strong performances, but you can tell Curt is new to a live-streamed set like this, and a sequel should be smoother for between-song banter. Also, the flashing stage lighting is very distracting for an hour-long video, and I would scrap it or at least slow it down next time. Give Curt's whole live-stream a watch below!

Finally, fellow local hard rock solo musician Tym Morrison live-streamed his 23rd at-home concert on his YouTube channel yesterday! After an unusually long 10 minute wait past the "Starting Soon" screen, the show begins, but viewers will notice that the visuals are choppy once again, which won't bode well if you're expecting a 2 hour set. Tym starts by covering Richard Marx's "Now & Forever", Air Supply's "Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)", and Frozen Ghost's "Dream Come True", after which Tym starts acknowledging the video issues. He plays an instrumental song next, followed by Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" and Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love", but Tym spends the rest of the runtime attempting to fix the video before bailing on the stream after just over a half hour. This is the fourth straight Tuesday night show from Tym to be cut short due to technical difficulties, alas.

The audio quality was just fine, and Tym sounded as solid as ever, but the laggy video issues were never in doubt. I do like that yesterday's covers (Roxette aside) were all debuting in his live-streamed series, as far as I can recall, and hopefully tomorrow's show goes off without a hitch! Thursdays seem to have a better success rate. Give yesterday's a watch below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site soon! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Full Recap Of Mike Haggith's Newest #LockdownLive Concert!!

Single-post topic to end the weekend with, as local/Thompson, Manitoba solo artist Mike Haggith live-streamed his twelfth #LockdownLive concert onto his Facebook page last night! This episode was subtitled "The Windsor Connection", and was centered around his band output in the late 2000s before enrolling in college in the Soo. We did discuss some of his Windsor bands on the SMS way back when in our old series on out of town bands from local musicians, but a lot of this aspect of Mike's career will be foreign to many readers. If I can source relevant links to the bands and songs on offer, I will let you know! After outlining the contest where the winner with the most engaged share of the video picks the mandatory cover for next week, Mike opens by playing "I Love You Anyways", which he famously wrote in a dream at the age of 6, before including it in two of his Sault-era albums, early Din setlists, and in #LockdownLive III a few months ago.

Afterwards, Mike calls a special guest, namely Dylon Rabidoux, who fronted his 2005-2012 stoner rock band S.C.A.R. (short for Sick, Carnivorous, And Rebellious), and the guys reminisce on the good old days, including lots of discussion about their last album, 2010's "13th Circle Of Hell". Once Dylan hangs up, Mike dives into S.C.A.R.'s songs "Green Peace" & "Quiet, It's The Rainforest" (with surprise Bob Dylan pastiche at the end), a mash-up of Eazy-E's "Boyz-N-The-Hood" & "Nobody Move" that they amusingly played live (as inspired by Windsor's Daniel Rush Band), and their original "Fraction Of A Second". If you are curious, you can hear the three above original songs on S.C.A.R.'s Facebook page in studio and/or live form. Next, Mike moves to his 2010 alternative/experimenal rock band The Thorns, who gave us his next song, "As Memories Fade Away", which Mike re-recorded solo on 2011's "Suspended Animation", and you may have heard on #LockdownLive VI.

Similarly to his chat with Dylon earlier, Mike calls his old Thorns bandmate Jeff Morrell, who played bass in that group, while Mike was on lead vocals & rhythm guitar. We get lots of reminiscing about their band work and high school once again, but there is an odd break in the show when Mike has to retrieve his cat Luna from an excursion to his apartment's laundry room, deal with his neighbour's dog Chico, and then find his other cat Artemis! Once that seven minute intermission concludes, Mike returns to #LockdownLive proper, where he performs the Thorns originals "A Quarter Mile At A Time" and "A Nightmare On Reed Street", the latter prefaced by a story of him getting the actual Reed Street sign from drummer Tyler Colley when he went back to Windsor for Christmas in 2014. The latter song is on The Thorns' Soundclick page, but not the former, despite 32 songs being uploaded there. He closes this section by summing up this band's short but eventful lifespan

The final Windsor band looked at here was Mike's 2007-2009 rock band The Air, who are very obscure for social media and surviving online materials nowadays. Mike performs their original songs "The Alberta Cheese Wagon" (yes, he explains the title), a shortened version of "Clockwise", and "Exit" to wrap up his look at his hometown bands. Mike ends the show by covering Elton John's "Your Song", as nominated by last week's share contest winner Brandi Martel, and given that this was a straight-forward, sincere choice not meant to troll Mike, we do get a pleasant, non-jokey rendition here. It's up to you to determine what approach you prefer, but he handles this cover very nicely! Mike gave closing remarks afterward to sum up each band in hindsight, hyped #LockdownLive XIII this coming Saturday, which will be his "quarterly report" episode looking back at the first 12 episodes.

Strong and informative #LockdownLive installment, especially if you weren't familiar with his Windsor music, and you do hear the potential that he'd carry into his local and Thompson solo and band work! Of course, much of this music is not representative of his maturity and talents nowadays, but I think he picked some good songs here! That said, could we get another #LockdownLive episode devoted to one of Mike's old bands again, perhaps The Strange Coyotes or the acid jam-era Din? Give #LockdownLive XII a watch below, and stay tuned for more news this week! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

New Videos From Mikey Hawdon & Tym Morrison, Plus More Updates!!

Today's news post is video-heavy, but we do have some assorted recent updates to wrap things up with. We'll start with the two newest solo vocal/ukelele cover videos from local punk musician Mikey Hawdon's YouTube channel, as his daily quarantunes have hit their 97th installment! In fact, both of the two new installments have a local relevance, including yesterday's cover of Jimmy Martin's "Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone", which was inspired by hearing the song live in Nashville when he and his mom vacationed there two years ago. The rendition features three of Mikey's Tidal Records colleagues, including Jay Case on the banjo, Frank Deresti on the bass, and his old Rising Tide bandmate Sheldon Jaaskelainen on the fiddle. Nice rendition with poignant lyrics, so give that a listen above! Embedded below is today's quarantune, where Mikey covers U2's "With Or Without You" with members of 1990s local punk band The Spigots!

The cover choice is fitting, as Mikey saw The Spigots in his first ever local concert back in 1993 at The Windsor Park Hotel, and "With Or Without You" was a staple of Spigots setlists. Mikey is on ukelele, guitar, and drums for this cover, alongside Spigots alumni Trevor Hartless on vocals and Frank Guidoccio on bass. The Spigots are well before my time, but this is a solid yet loose cover, albeit with a very repetitive chorus, and it must have been a thrill to revisit the dawn of Mikey's local punk fandom here! Give this quarantune a watch below, and look for more tomorrow!

Next up, local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison live-streamed his 22nd at-home concert on his YouTube channel on Thursday, so let's do another full recap on the SMS! You may notice that I skipped over Tuesday's show, which Tym did attempt to start, but he doesn't get to play any songs due to technical difficulties. No, the video feed wasn't glitchy, but he was clearly having problems hearing the guitar and his setup on his end, and he attempted to fix it for 17 minutes before giving up on the stream. At home, we could hear his guitar, but Tym will know better than I if things aren't working right. This is the third straight Tuesday stream of Tym's to be abbreviated due to technical difficulties, which is a very odd coincidence, but hopefully next Tuesday's isn't cursed! He did resolve the issues in time for Thursday's live-stream (embedded below), though "Starting Soon" card aside, it falls 15 minute shy of 2 hours.

In order, Tym starts by covering The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" & Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)", before playing an instrumental composition. Afterwards, Tym tackles Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (which the feed abruptly cuts off), Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise", Supertramp's "The Logical Song", Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle", Phil Collins' "One More Night", 10cc's "I'm Not In Love", Tom Petty's "Yer So Bad", another instrumental, Phil Collins' "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)", Richard Marx's "Hold On To The Nights", his Spanish guitar instrumental, and an original song named "The Reason Why", with lots of anecdotes about it's composition and how he recorded it in high school, though it's not on his CD. Tym's set closes with Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver", Billy Joel's "You May Be Right", and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall", before thanking everyone and apologizing for Tuesday's show.

Strong set overall, and Tym performed to his usual standards despite the obviously warm temperatures! His story about "The Reason Why" and working with ex-Phatstick frontman Jason Taillefer was nice too, especially if you followed Tym's original career. However, if you're not instrumentally inclined, you may not appreciate the three vocal-less songs here, and Tym just did the Richard Marx & Billy Joel songs this past Thursday. Give the whole show a watch below, and fingers crossed Tuesday's live-stream is glitch free!

Finally, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or event name:

  • Mikey's Inner City Surfers bandmate Dustin Jones sent an acoustic cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours" to SooToday for this article on Monday, which is tied into Pride Week festivities and for something the whole community can enjoy. Nicely done rendition for a great cause, so give it a look above! The video host SooToday used here does not allow external embedding. 
  • Sault Michigan classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63 have announced that they are cancelling their planned Rudyard Days event and all other upcoming dates "until further notice" due to a (non-COVID) health issue with one of their members, as per their Facebook page on Wednesday. The band had no shows left in our calendar as it was, but I believe Rudyard Days was the community gathering/concert that Highway 63 had discussed in April, to be held once the shutdowns ended. Hopefully we see Highway 63 back on stage in some way, shape, or form down the line!
  • It goes without saying at this point, but the Northern Vibe Festival in nearby Ophir, Ontario will not take place as scheduled next month due to the coronavirus outbreak, as per their Facebook page earlier this week. The Northern Vibe Festival only features heavier and punk bands sporadically, but their diverse entertainment on the old Hempfest grounds is always a great time, and hopefully they can return better than ever in 2021!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site next week! Thanks everyone!