Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Reopening Of Coch's Corner, The Fate Of 97.9 FM, And Much More!!

Let's get a new news post up on the site to cover some other recent news! I'm going out of town tomorrow afternoon, so updates may be slower over the coming week, but I fully intend to have weekend concert previews and more news on the site over the next little while, so don't miss a thing over the coming days! So for today, we have news on a local concert venue's reopening & new home, the ultimate fate of one of our former rock radio stations, some new "Woods V" reviews, and this week's classic video, so here's what you need to know!

The new Coch's Corner is officially open for business, as of yesterday! The local bar & concert spot is now operating at it's new home, at the former Foggy Notions location at 708 Queen Street East, two months after they left the old Days Inn location on Bay Street, as per a bunch of recent postings on Facebook (though note that Coch's Corner's Facebook group has yet to publically confirm the news.) From what I understand, the bar is fully operational except for the restaurant, which isn't running yet but will be implemented. I have yet to see the newly renovated location to figure out how different it looks, or if there will still be a stage for bands, but you guys know I'll have more on that as I hear of it! The re-opening ends an almost 6 month hiatus for public activity at 708 Queen, following the end of Foggy's brief successor Feedback in January and the lease transfer, and it's good to finally hear that Paul and the rest of the staff are back up & running! Coch's and Foggy's fans should definitely be amped for the re-opening, and even if it'll be different given the merger of sorts for the two bars, hopefully Coch's Corner can avoid the noise complaint concerns and other petty things that hung up the previous bars at that spot. Stay tuned for updates as I hear of them, and head to the newly open Coch's Corner's new home tonight if you can!

Next up, I wanted to fill you guys in on what happened to a local radio station that had a lot of metal and hard rock relevance during it's run. As you may remember, Classic Rock: The Bear (WIHC, 97.9 FM) served the Sault Ste. Marie/Newberry, Michigan radio market for 8 years from 2002-2010 before Northern Star Broadcasting left the Upper Peninsula and sold most of their U.P. stations to Sovereign Communications, who now own most of the non-religious stations in the area. WIHC was the only U.P. station left out of the sale to avoid going over FCC limits for regional station ownership, but Northern Star Broadcasting took 97.9 FM dark in February 2010, as the station wasn't financially viable and was operating at a loss (source here.) We got the station back (sort of) a few months later when WLJZ (94.5 FM) out of Mackinaw City switched from a country format to a Bear simulcast, returning heavier music to that frequency, which once hosted the modern rock station The Zone in the mid-2000s. Better radios here can pick up The Bear on 94.5 FM, so it's worth scoping out to see where and if you can hear it here! That said, what ever happened to WIHC out of Newberry?

Well, it's back on the air, but in a very different format than what we remember. In November, West Central Michigan Media Ministries bought WIHC from Northern Star for $150,000, and they brought it back in March as Strong Tower Radio, a religious talk station simulcasted from Cadillac, making it the fifth Christian-based FM station in the Twin Sault markets. Click here for more info. I hardly see the need for that many religious radio stations in such a small market area, but at least this one seems to be talk radio based, so it is some variance from the four Christian contemporary music stations here. I hope the new format is a success for the owners and for the more religious radio listeners around here, but it still would be nice to hear even one more rock-ish station locally. Check the above links for more on the saga of 97.9 FM over the past couple of years!

Now, here's some more reviews of Woods of Ypres' last recorded studio album "Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light", which is still attracting lots of critical notices! In January, Tom Dare from the metal website Thrash Hits gave "Woods V" a score of 5 out of 6, calling the songs "bloody good", though emphasizing the difficulty it takes to listen to the material given what happened to David Gold and the lyrical content. Nice insightful review, though filled with quotes, so check it out at this location! The following month, Khalil Mikael from the blog Melodic Reviews gave "Woods V" a 98% rating, highly praising it for it's brilliant instrumentation, musical variance, and philosophical lyrics, though I don't know if I agree with the HIM comparison on "Death Is Not an Exit". Another solid review, so click here to give it a look! Finally for today, "Khelek" from the website Metal Reviews gave this album a surprisingly low rating of 30%, criticizing Woods of Ypres for playing it safe, dumbing down their existing sound (he gave "Woods IV" 60%) into what he thought was a bland & monotonous style, and only recommended "W5" to existing fans. I applaud his honesty, but I'd say that he didn't really get into the right mindset to appreciate the album's mood. Still, check out his review at this location, and if you can't see the text, press Ctrl & A on your keyboard! Stay tuned for more "Woods V" reviews in the near future!

And finally, here's this week's classic video! With a light upcoming weekend for shows that I can project, we're dipping into the general archives once again for this latest video, which is of the former local metal quintet Lion Ride! The local/Toronto standouts brought their high impact blend of punk and metal to many concerts during their 5 year run, and this video comes from an earlier show of theirs on Boxing Day 2008 at the old Coch's Corner. One video from the same filmer is already on YouTube via frontman Mikey Lion's YouTube channel, of Lion Ride playing "Lock Me In" at this concert, but the other video is new to YouTube, and it's of Lion Ride playing their song "Slapdance"! Lion Ride's 2008-2009 lineup is represented here, including Mikey on vocals, guitarists Marky & Marco Lion, then-new bassist Diamond Brent Panther, and original drummer Marc "The Italian Stallion" Muto (in what may have been his last local show with Lion Ride.) The audio quality is this video's main downfall, as it's very distorted on the verses & choruses, which almost completely drowns out Mikey's singing. That said, the video quality isn't bad, and it's shot from a decent angle, with the guys making the most of the tables at the old Coch's!

This video was shot by a concert attendee and was uploaded to Facebook two days after the show at NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED!! All credit for this video goes to Lion Ride, I'm just trying to share it with a wider audience! Audio issues aside, their talents are visible and their energy is top notch, so give this new old Lion Ride video a look below!

That's probably all for today, but stay tuned for news and previews in the next little while! Thanks everyone!

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