Friday, May 30, 2014

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Lucky 13), Malignant Neoplasm Updates, And More!!

I wasn't expecting to have a second post today, but with an extremely short notice LOCAL CONCERT ALERT, I threw this one together to get it up on the site! In what is definitely our last post of the month, we also have new media from a local goregrind band, and lots of shorter notes, so here's what you need to know, and check out this morning's post for a new show next month, a likely inactive band, and some new videos! (Updated on Friday at 9:27 AM)

Local alternative/hard rock cover quartet Lucky 13 will return to the stage for shows TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT at The Rockstar Bar! Apologies for the short notice, the Facebook event page was only just launched this morning. This will be this veteran band's first live concert since headlining at The Rockstar Bar just over a month ago, and they should be up to their usual tricks for a night full of 1990s-leaning alt-rock classics! Though originally announced as a Friday-only gig, bassist Jeff Gray confirmed on his personal Facebook page that they'll be playing tomorrow as well, so keep that in mind! A $5 cover charge is likely, you must be 19 to attend, and there's a 10:30 PM start time in effect, so check the above links for more details! Despite the ultra-short notice for this weekend's shows, Lucky 13 have the talent and experience to put on another solid weekend, so don't miss out on the action, and for a preview, here's Lucky 13 at their live concert debut!

Next up, Blood Shed Productions gore/cybergrind solo project Malignant Neoplasm have recently been busier than they have been since last year, so what's been going on in their camp? On May 19th, project leader Tyler "Ringsnaps" Gibson announced that he'd be recording a new Malignant Neoplasm "EP" named "Music?", which was posted on the label's YouTube channel on Monday, and yes, this is the official cover. True to form from earlier material under this name, the songs are generally very short, mix Tyler's goregrind sounds with electronic and techno influences, and take lyrical and thematic inspiration from medical conditions and scenarios. This is definitely an acquired taste, but there's ample imagination and brutality to go around for Blood Shed loyalists, so check out the full "EP" below, and hear a couple of the single tracks from "Music?" at the above links as well!

Finally for today, here's six assorted shorter stories from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by band name:

  • Leading from our new and changed concert dates at the regional Kewadin Casino branches from yesterday, Kinross hard rock trio Banned's shows at The Rapids Lounge in Sault Michigan on August 22nd & 23rd have been bumped up one week to August 15th & 16th. A reason hasn't been announced that I've heard, but for reference sake, local classic/country rock trio The Brooks Band are now playing on the later weekend. Keep the changes in mind if you want to see Banned in August! My source is this link.
  • Local goregrind solo project Crucify The Whore announced on their Facebook page on last week that they're working on setting up a mini-tour through late June & early July, and they're releasing their new full length demo "Welcome To Earth" on July 1st for $5, though further details on both aren't out yet. Nice to see Tyler staying active, we'll let you guys know when his next local dates are!
  • We finally have online confirmation of local grunge quartet Haggith's current status, as they are indeed back as a functioning band! The biography section of frontman Curtis McKenzie's solo Facebook page now says that after the succeess of their Swampstravaganza reunion set, they have indeed decided to release another album, and will play live shows "the odd time". No hint of the ultimatum hinging on the CD's sale level, but it's great to hear that they're back, and Haggith's back in our active band links!
  • Along with a confirmed out of town gig in Meyersburg on July 13th for their Spiderfest event (which Shit Liver are also playing), local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades revealed on their Facebook page on Wednesday that they'll be opening for The Ripcordz at a local date this fall, though details have yet to be elaborated on. Awesome news, so keep an eye out for updates!
  • As a clarification relating to their recent return gig at bassist Mike Bird's stag & doe, I can confirm that local hard rock quartet The Side FX have welcomed back guitarist Alex Walls (who left the band last summer), but as he still lives out of town, gigs are sporadic pending his availability. Hopefully we see more of them soon! My source is frontman Rob Speers in a personal conversation.
  • Brimley, Michigan acoustic rock trio Train Wreck (featuring Half A Man frontman Erik Rintamaki) will return to the stage on Saturday, June 7th for a set at Brimley's second annual Lupine Festival at the local train depot. I mention this just in case Train Wreck skew heavier like the videos on Erik's YouTube channel suggest, but with no band pages or further clarification, that's hard to verify. Click here for more information until/unless we hear more!

That's definitely all for this month, but we'll see you guys with new news, notes, and features in June! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Public Animal), A Likely Inactive Band, And New Videos!!

In what might be our last post of the month, we have some recent news to touch on today, including new videos from some familiar faces, a band that we're moving to our inactive links, and first, a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for next month, so here's what you need to know!

Toronto hard rock quartet Public Animal will make their way north to our neck of the woods on Friday, June 27th for a headlining gig at The Rockstar Bar! Though unfamiliar on the surface, some fans may remember seeing frontman Ian Blurton at LopLops Lounge a couple years ago with C'mon, and a similar talent level can be found with Public Animal, a hard/garage rock quartet with a distinct old school feel and solid trade-off vocals with keyboardist Caitlin Dacey, so they should find an audience on June 27th! As best as I can tell, the openers will be a reunion of dormant local punk supergroup Brad Example & The Role Models, who you may remember from opening for The Saigon Hookers at this venue twice in 2011, among some prior gigs. Fronted by Inner City Surfers bassist Brad "Example" Lacell, this band had a rotating supporting cast, but their 2011 gigs both included Brad's longtime bandmate Dave Bahun and current Glitch giutarist Marco Pedalino, so might we see them back for this gig? Time will tell!

Apparently promoted by Brad (who's calling the show "Rock and Roll Mindwarp"), this 19+ show has a 10:00 PM start time, and there's a likely $5 cover charge in effect. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page! This should be an intriguing concert, especially for the classic heavy mix of Public Animal and the Role Models reunion, so keep it in mind for next month, and stay tuned for potential updates!

Next up, I've reluctantly decided to move a local metal band to our defunct Sault Ontario links, that being local extreme metal quartet Winkstinger. The band hasn't made a public statement since opening for Sleep When You're Dead at The Oddfellows Hall exactly one year & one day ago, which itself is their only concert in the past 22 months, so it's not looking great for their active status. Succeeding the similar Operation: Killdozer upon their early 2010 launch, Winkstinger (featuring Soldiers of Misfortune and Issues alumni) became a popular sight at local concerts throughout the early 2010s, including 6 appearances at Roosevelt Hotel metal nights, sets at the first two Sewer Swampstravaganzas, and winning the Battle for the Blood in June 2012 to open for 3 Inches of Blood, while recording songs for an unreleased EP during that time. I'm not sure what exactly happened to Winkstinger, but their chaotic extreme metal sound was always a fun and welcomed presence on the local stage, and despite their increasingly sporadic dates by 2012, I always enjoyed seeing them in concert!

I hope I'm wrong on them no longer being active (we'll let you guys know if they re-emerge), but in the meantime, you can see guitarist Jesse Cook with both Jack Spades & The Elements, and best of luck to Alan, Jesse, Jason, Jonas, and all of their other former members in the future!

We'll close today with new videos, including some new solo guitar clips from former Bring The Fallen guitarist Andrew Chiarello! While largely inactive from local bands since Bring The Fallen's 2011 breakup (last year's reunion show aside), Andrew has recently re-emerged with a new YouTube channel to post some solo videos, so what should you know on these? One from two weeks ago is of him playing an instrumental shred piece named "RockBro", while the other video from earlier this week (embedded below) is his cover of Metallica's "Master of Puppets". Both are shot at multiple camera angles with transitions that showcase his gear nicely, and his talent hasn't wavered since his band heyday! If anything, his guitar could be louder on the Metallica cover, but it's nice to see Andrew playing again, and hopefully there's more to come in some form, so check out his new videos above and below!

Finally for today, Skeyes of Seven bandmates Cory Murchison and Alain Fletcher have recorded another acoustic cover for Alain's YouTube channel, as posted on Tuesday! This time, it's a cover of Slipknot's ballad "Snuff", and like before, it's well performed, but Cory's singing seems a bit slow and shaky. It's a nice teaser while the wait continues for Skeyes of Seven's live return, so check it out below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news shortly! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (415E & The Pixo Control) And Weekend Concert Previews!!

For today's post at the SMS, we're focusing on this weekend's metal & hard rock concert previews in a solid weekend on both sides of the border, including a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for later this weekend and some more new dates for later in the year, so read on below for what you need to know for your hard rock show plans! (Updated at 11:34 PM)

Local alternative/hard rock trio The Pixo Control will return to the stage THIS SUNDAY at an unfamiliar venue, as they'll be rocking out at The Hard Times Bar & Grill! Apologies for the short notice, the show was just announced on Tuesday. Located at 652 Wallace Terrace (near Goulais Avenue and down the road from Tenaris Algoma Tubes), this isn't a concert venue that we're familiar with, but it's been open since at least 2008, and has hosted live bands sporadically. It remains to be seen if Sunday's show will be the start of anything bigger, but it does coincide with Hard Times' Customer Appreciation Day with related meal deals, so keep that in mind! This will be The Pixo Control's first live set since their Passport To Unity involvement, and their grungy originals should find a solid audience on Sunday night! Opening for them will be Great Chamberlain frontman Chris West in a solo set, and he should be right at home with his indie/alternative material, especially with bandmate Michael Mikus on hand fronting The Pixo Control, so don't miss his set either for some entertaining lighter music!

This show has a special afternoon start time of 1:00 PM, it is ALL AGES (probably thanks to the timeslot), and there is no cover charge. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page! This should be an interesting show, partially thanks to the new-to-us venue, but there's some talented young musicians all around to take in on Sunday afternoon, so keep it in mind! For a preview, here's The Pixo Control live at Superior Heights Collegiate earlier this year!

Also in new dates, we'll head across the river to the Sault Michigan and St. Ignace Kewadin Casino branches, where a band playing at The Northern Pines Lounge in St. Ignace TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT have some additional gigs this year at the casinos to report! The band in question is local metal standouts 415E, who will follow this weekend's shows with brand new St. Ignace dates on August 1st & 2nd and on November 7th & 8th, which sandwich new Rapids Lounge gigs at the Sault Kewadin on October 17th & 18th! Before them however, they've also had their June gigs at The Rapids Lounge bumped from June 13th & 14th to next weekend for unannounced reasons (replacing previously announced Peril gigs on the 6th & 7th, and with classic rockers Crossroads now taking the June 13th weekend.) My source for the new and altered gigs is Kewadin's entertainment page. First things first though, as 415E will be at the St. Ignace Kewadin this weekend, so don't miss Chris and Dave (and company?) tomorrow and/or Saturday!

This weekend's shows (and the other new/moved dates) all have 21+ age limits, 9:00 PM start times, and no announced cover charges, so check the above links for more details! It's nice to see 415E staying busy with some new dates, but it'd be nice to get some more confirmation about their recent lineups, album, and perhaps gigs outside of the Kewadin umbrella. Don't miss the original and cover action this weekend though, and here's the guys covering The Stone Temple Pilots!

Staying in the E.U.P., we'll head to The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino, where we'll see Charlevoix metal trio Peril rocking out TOMORROW NIGHT! Remember, this is a one night only gig, as Peril's originally announced Saturday show has been moved to Boyne City for unannounced reasons. Tomorrow's show completes a two weekend stay at the regional Kewadin branches, as the originally announced June 6th & 7th shows are off and now belong to 415E, so if you don't want to wait until July to see Jeff, Brooks, and Adam live in the area, be at The Rapids Lounge tomorrow night! Their classic metal covers will be on hand tomorrow at 9:00 PM, there is no cover charge, and you must be 21 to attend. For more details, visit the Facebook event page! Easily a favourite for out of town heavy music in the Eastern U.P., Peril should deliver another solid night of music tomorrow, so don't miss them (or Jeff's Kiss tribute Kiss'd in St. Ignace in July), and here's Peril live in 2010!

Finally for this preview post, we'll head back to Sault Ontario, where Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison is expected to enter the 26th straight week of his ongoing weekly concert arrangement at The Harp Bar & Grill with a solo acoustic gig SATURDAY NIGHT! Remember, due to the immense length of announced bookings on his website, we cover his Harp shows a month at a time, so we'll address his likely June gigs when confirmed on Facebook. Unfortunately for fans however, Tym will only be playing once this weekend for a third straight week due to a previously booked Friday night show by Tiller, a new local acoustic trio featuring former Huckster guitarist Sean Halliday, as per The Harp's Facebook page earlier today. No word yet on if Tym's weekly run has been redacted back to once a week or not, but his unplugged hard rock covers should be in full swing on Saturday regardless! Admission is likely free, you must be 19 to attend, and a 10:00 PM start time is likely. Check the above links for more details, and for a preview, here's Tym live at Mill Square last summer!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow, and much more as we enter June! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile: Alpha Trion

After a day's delay (my apologies), it's now time for this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile! In our latest monthly look at a metal/hard rock band from out of town that has featured a Sault-area native in any of their past or present lineups, we're giving a long overdue look to a band featuring a very talented drummer that once called the Soo home, so read on below for this month's profile, and if anything's incorrect or missing, let me know! (Updated on November 27th)
Alpha Trion (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Lineup: (Saultites in RED, ex-members in italics)

Curtis Wells (guitar)
Leo Pedersen (guitar)
Rae Aberdeen (bass)
Jon Morrison (drums)
Bryan Gobbi (guitar)

Official Facebook page:
Official MySpace page:
Official YouTube channel:

Local Info: A very prolific drummer in his current Vancouver homestead, Jon Morrison is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, began drumming professionally at age 10, and is an alum of Bawating Collegiate & Vocational School, but details on his local residence and band work then are scant online nowadays. A graduate of the famed Berklee College of Music in 2006 and a finalist in a 2008 Meshuggah drum contest. Jon's band work in the Vancouver area includes stints with noted metal bands like Avatara, Nylithia, and Parallel Truth, along with a brief stint as a session drummer for local metal standouts Gates of Winter in the early 2010s, so be sure to follow Jon's music for some proficient original metal! 

Band Bio: Launched in late 2008, Alpha Trion have been sporadically active since then, largely in studio settings to work on original material. Though they did search for a vocalist shortly after launch (source here), this band has largely been an instrumental project, with the same lineup since the fall of that year. Alpha Trion made their live debut (the first of just two shows to date) in January 2009, and began working on a debut album named "Survival Means Invention" that fall. The band documented it's early progress via video blogs on their YouTube channel, but it still hasn't visibly been completed, with updates slowing down by mid-2012, and nothing coming to their Facebook page since September 2013, aside from a solo video from Curt Wells in June. Hopefully Alpha Trion are still an active project, as their progressive/djent metal originals are very heavy and entertaining, and I can see why they still get solid online praise!

The five songs on their MySpace page (and surviving YouTube clips) point to a technical and proficient sound that fans of Meshuggah and similar bands will definitely take to! Curt Wells & Leo Pederson are excellent guitarists, Rae Aberdeen's chugging bass fits nicely, and Jon Morrison's skilled drumming is a great compliment! It'd be interesting to hear this material with vocals, but hopefully Alpha Trion are still alive and will complete their CD down the road! Check out their original material at the above links, and here's the guys playing their song "Fragmented" in 2009!

I hope you guys liked this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile! Next month in this series, we'll take a look at London hardcore/crust punk quintet Gatgas (featuring Sault Ontario natives Bob Bromley Jr. and Garry Ingram) in advance of their set at Hardcore Homecoming in September, so look out for that on or around June 26th, and stay tuned for more news and notes this week! Thanks everyone!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A New Archive Album Discovery, New Media Finds, And Much More!!

Before we touch on this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile, we have some news of the old and new varieties today, including some recent shorter notes, new media from a local band, a neat concert video from 23 years ago, and leading off, information on a 16 year old CD that I recently bought for collecting and SMS purposes, so here's what you need to know!

Local music fans from the late 1990s might be interested in this find, as I now have a physical copy of the 1998 compilation album "Local Steel"! Found on the "Various Rock" CD shelf on the left hand wall at The Rad Zone for $10 yesterday, this is an album I've been looking hard for since learning that you can't check it out of the library's "local archive" section, so what should you know about it? This CD compiled 17 different local acts to contribute original material, and though all are long since defunct, there's plenty of familiar faces! For example, members of Lion Ride are featured with The Bombed Squad, and future Stiffler's Mom bandmates appear with Alexis Machine, while more recently familiar artists like Tripod the Dog, Troy Isaac, and The Gully Yodellers perform original songs, among many others. Most of the CD is focused around alternative & hard rock, but there's some full metal, blues, and punk tracks as well, with the somewhat cryptic Porn Fairies even diving into an industrial/techno sound! While mostly separate performers on each song, 4 artists play on multiple tracks, with bassist Steve Batenchuk featuring on 3.

Co-produced by future Gsis Murphy bandmates Tony Marcello and Keith Davis at Full Scale Audio Productions, the booklet hints that there would be a second annual "Local Steel" disc, but I can't prove if that occurred. This was an awesome find, and given that the album has a high amount of hard rock songs, I do want to review it on the site in a month with no new CDs waiting! In the meantime, I've uploaded the whole thing to YouTube at this link, so check it out if you want, and here's one of the early heavier tracks, local metal quintet Hollow playing their song "Flesh & Bones"!

Leading from "Local Steel", my research on some of the performers led me to this even older concert video featuring 3 future bandmates in Your Mother (the aforementioned Tony Marcello, Keith Davis, and Steve Batenchuk) from an older band in 1991! Joined by guitarist(?) Rob Struk and drummer Mark Webster, the band in question was Midpoint, who were a familiar metal band around the turn of the 1990s, so much so that they even toured! This video (courtesy of Tony's YouTube channel in March) comes from a performance in Thompson, Manitoba, which was filmed for a local TV show there called "The Pit", and it's of their cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley", so how does it sound? Despite not beginning at the start of the song, it's well performed, and the presence of a keytar is of interest, but the vocals aren't quite at the right range for this song. Very cool to see this video though, and hopefully more local musicians post some old archive material like this at some point, so check out Midpoint live in Thompson, Manitoba below!

Next up, have you been curious to hear more material from local grunge/hardcore duo Bad Back? Well, this might be as good a source as any, as drummer Nathan Sauve has posted 26 recordings of them onto his personal Soundcloud page over the past year! I'm not sure how this slipped us by for so long, but Nathan has been posting material there since May 2013, and it's definitely publically accessible. While mostly originals (including most, if not all of their live setlist contents), there are select covers and even a few songs with guest performers. The recording quality has steadily improved since last spring, and given that these were likely recorded at jam sessions, there's a fun energy and spirit present in most! It's nice to hear nice quality versions of "Togna Sharogna" and "Lung Bucket", among others, and hopefully Nathan keeps adding to this page, or expands Bad Back's social media presence beyond Twitter! Check everything out above, and stay tuned for more on Nathan and Jamie's next shows!

Finally for today, here's three recent shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by band name:

  • The local contingent has grown for this year's Touch of Death Metal & Punk Fest in Cochrane, Ontario, as local sludge metal trio AlgomA, the aforementioned Bad Back, and local goregrind project Crucify The Whore have all been confirmed for the late June lineup, as per the event's Facebook page! They all join Shit Liver and Steve & Andrew from D3athcharg3r among the Saultite performers. Awesome news, hopefully they tear up Cochrane next month!
  • After a 9 month hiatus, Sault Michigan concert promoters Allstar Promotions re-emerged on their Facebook page on Friday to ask for opinions on booking British hard rock legends The Cult for a show this year, presumably at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Ste. Marie Kewadin Casino. It'd be cool to see, but if you want to show your support, like or comment the status at the above links!
  • Add some more Saultites to the well anticipated Hardcore Homecoming show at The Rockstar Bar on September 13th, as London hardcore punk quintet Gatgas (featuring Harsh Heads alum Bob Bromley Jr. and fellow Soo native Garry Ingram) have been added to the lineup, joining Random Killing and their local frontman Andrew Kiteley for this long awaited return home! Awesome news, hopefully Gatgas deliver a solid set of crust punk this fall! My source is promoter J.D. Pearce on the Facebook event page on Wednesday.

That's all for now, but stay tuned either tonight or tomorrow for this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile on Alpha Trion! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A New Local Internet Radio Station, New Videos, And The Suicide Kings + Karaoke?

I'm back from St. Joseph Island a day earlier than expected, so we have a new news post for you guys today covering stuff missed over the break! In this post, we have new videos from both sides of the border, an intriguing new live karaoke project from some familiar faces, and first, news concerning a new addition to our local radio roster that you might find intriguing, so read on below for what you need to know, and make sure to read our Jack Spades EP review and 5150DOA YouTube Channel Profile that both went up as auto-posts over the last few days!

If you've been following SooToday recently, you may have noticed that two of their recent polls related to music, specifically one poll about if you'd listen to a local internet radio station, and a follow-up relating to readers' musical preferences (country & rock ran away with almost 60% of the votes combined.) Well, the polls weren't just hypothetical, as SooToday's Facebook page has revealed that their parent company Village Media is currently developing an online streaming radio station called VM Radio! Plans are for it to have a local focus and planned airtime for local original music, so if you're interested in submitting your own music for consideration on this station, drop them off at 642 Queen Street East (or via the mailing address on Facebook), or e-mail digital copies to No word on a launch date, programming details, or anything similar yet, but we'll keep you posted, especially in regards to possible hard rock/metal inclusion!

This won't be the first internet radio station founded in the Soo (Energy Rock Radio launched here before moving to British Columbia), but a local news-backed station that could serve as an alternative to the current FM stations would be a nice addition! Myself, I'd like to see a variety for everyone so that it attracts as wide an audience as possible, but keep an eye out for how VM Radio shapes up in the coming months!

Next up, while not technically a new local band in the traditional sense, all 4 members of local hard rock band The Suicide Kings (Mike Gaetano, Steven Flint, Mitch Sirie, and Ben Boudreau) have announced a new live music project named URawk that will serve as the hosts of Sault Ontario's first ever karaoke night with a live backing band rather than pre-recorded tracks! Covering genres from metal to country, they have a wide setlist ready for fans to come on stage and sing along with, while you can also request songs for the guys to learn in advance of one of their live appearances, and cash prizes are also planned. Current plans involve Urawk hosting live karaoke nights at The Rednecks Saloon (the former Nicolet Tavern) each Thursday at 10:00 PM for the foreseeable future, though no word yet on if we'll see them at other venues or on other days. Their debut night will be on Thursday, June 26th, and their wide ranging setlist (which has a number of metal songs, but doesn't emphasize them) is sure to grow, especially if URawk takes off!

No word yet on what roles Mike will serve with URawk, especially as the emphasis is on karaoke singers to sing with the band, but Mike is a guitar player too, so he could take on that role if need be. I've heard of the live band karaoke concept in bigger cities, and I'm very curious to see how well it goes, as this could be a way for many local music fans to let out their inner rock star without the band commitment, or maybe test the waters to get involved in a band further! You should know how talented The Suicide Kings are, and hopefully they bring the same intensity and focus to URawk, so keep their debut in mind next month!

We'll close today with new videos, including a new preview video relating to Sault Michigan-area label Werehold Records' next Friday the 13th music posting spree next month, this time courtesy of label owner & Life's Eclipse frontman Jason Mills! Posted to the label's YouTube channel on Friday, this is a 39 second clip of Jason playing guitar for a new Life's Eclipse original that will be unveiled on June 13th, playing overtop backing programmed drums. Short, but it's a nice tease for the new material to come, so give it a look!

Finally, Pillory/Crimson Crusade guitarist Robert Sartini posted another solo guitar cover onto his YouTube channel on Wednesday! This time, he covered Dying Fetus' "Your Treachery Will Die With You", and though you can barely hear his guitar over the original backing track, he definitely knows this brutal death metal track well, and it shows in the clip! Check it out below, and stay tuned for more from his channel and band work!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news this week, plus this month's Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jack Spades - "The First" EP Review!!

For our last auto-post before I head back home, here's our 59th monthly CD review at the SMS, as we're taking a look at Sault Ontario punk/metal quintet Jack Spades' debut EP "The First"! Released independently in digital formats on April 20th (with it's physical release coming a month later on May 16th), this disc was recorded earlier this year with producer Jamie Vincent (AlgomA) and was later mixed in Peterborough by veteran local musician Mark Rand. The EP features the band's current lineup, including J.D. Pearce (credited under his Frightlight stage name Johnny Pints) on vocals, alongside his T-Rex Manning bandmate Tiffany Stocco (credited as T.S. Spades) and Jesse Cook (The Elements) on guitar, with Bear Hunters bandmates Justin Lam and Johnny Belanger on bass & drums respectively. Physical copies cost $10 upon their initial physical release, but that may vary in later scenarios, while you can buy the full EP on their Bandcamp page for $4, so pick it up at the above links or to inquire about CD copies!

Featuring 5 songs (including one cover, all linked to their Bandcamp copies) and clocking in at just under 13 minutes in length, this will be a short review, so let's get things going with the first song, "They Live"! Inspired by the Roddy Piper movie of the same name, this is the EP's shortest song, but it packs a lot into it's 102 second length, harbouring more of a traditional punk sound compared to many of J.D.'s recent band originals! The production helps give a nice clear angle on this fast paced original, with rapid-fire vocals, a no-nonsense instrumental sound, and very solid drumming from Johnny, but I will admit that the song sounds slightly rushed, and you do lose some of the on-stage attitude in a studio setting. Very nice opener though! The 2 minute "Rise" is second, and after a catchy chugging riff and solid drumming to open the song, it settles into an interesting contrast with relentless music and casual vocals that do compliment each other well, with Jesse getting a solid showcase of his guitar solo ability! This will be more up metalheads' alley, though while it's an effective rocker that never bores, "They Live" arguably has more energy to it.

Third is "Breakneck Speed", which lives up to that name after a slow guitar intro by showcasing the members' metal chops and punk edge in equal measure! Jesse and Tiffany lay it down hard on guitar throughout, the backing vocals fit well, and Justin's bass is more than up to par! The song does start getting a bit repetitive near the end, but the name of the song sure isn't a lie, and it deftly marries the band's two genres without sacrificing either in the process! Definitely a highlight of "The First" so far! Fourth is a licensed cover of The Ripcordz' "X", which is also the EP's longest song, but how does this live favourite translate in studio? Very well, the guys play this at a fast and relentless pace with nice vocals and backup singing through the choruses, and everyone is up to the challenge instrumentally, with Johnny impressing on drums, and J.D.'s singing drives things in the right direction! I'm sure Paul and company would be happy with this cover!

Last on "The First" is their original "To The Left", which opens with dirty guitar riffing, relentless drumming, and a nice punk/metal vibe that suits everything, and it lives up to the standard of early tracks with a galloping edge and fast paced verses! The vocals have a catchy rhythm, and the guitar solo has a bouncy upbeat feel which translates to the latter stretch of the song as well! Another entertaining punk/metal hybrid to end the EP on a high note, though like on some earlier tracks, some of the live attitude is lost in studio. So, what are my final thoughts on Jack Spades' debut EP? I think this is a successful first foray into studio recordings for this relatively newer local band, with their punk & metal sounds coming through very nicely! To me, this is the best that one of J.D. Pearce's bands has sounded on a CD release, and his vocals fit well with a melodic style and heavy edge throughout each track! Jesse Cook and Tiffany Stocco stand out well on guitar, Justin Lam's bass skills are welcome, and Johnny Belanger's drumming is a constant force!

Though familiar to J.D.'s other bands like Fitswitch, Jack Spades come across here as more influenced by punk as a whole rather than The Misfits (though elements of them are present), and there's a fast paced melodic nature that should appeal to metal & punk fans alike, especially on songs like "Breakneck Speed"! If there are concerns, it's from how some of Jack Spades' live intensity and swagger doesn't translate to studio recordings, and the EP could have been lengthened by including songs like "Motorwolf" and "Frederick", but the title "The First" implies there will be a second. Very solid debut from Jack Spades, so be sure to do your part in jacking the planet by buying this EP via the above links! I hope you guys liked this month's album review, but what's coming next? In all likelihood, we'll be reviewing Mike Haggith's newest solo CD "A Place of Our Own" next month, but that's tentative pending what else comes out from heavier local bands (if anything), so stay tuned for updates on that front, and more news this coming week! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

YouTube Channel Profile Series: 5150DOA's Channel

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profile, our monthly look at 1-3 randomly selected YouTube channels with at least a 50% ratio of local metal/hard rock videos! This monthly feature series takes us back to Sault Michigan this month for the third time in 5 months, and it's courtesy of a very talented local metal musician who's been in some familiar recent bands, so read on below for this month's profile!
5150DOA's Channel (

Owner: 415E guitarist Chris Hubbard, also known from prior stints with Nixxon Dixxon, Splitshot, and Trail's End

Channel Timeline: Launched on May 19th, 2011; Videos posted from June 2011 through May 2013

Channel Summary: A personal use channel, Chris' channel draws a heavy inspiration from Van Halen, with all of his videos involving the legendary hard rock band in some form. His first six videos from May 2011 are solo guitar covers of Van Halen songs, while 8 of his more recent uploads were from Van Halen concerts attended in early 2012 in Auburn Hills, Michigan and St. Paul, Minnesota. Chris' other 4 videos include 3 clips showcasing his EVH and customized guitars, and one of him playing the drums.

Why Should You Watch: I'd give Chris' channel a look for some very solid guitar covers and live concert footage, especially if you love David Lee Roth-era Van Halen (though two of his covers are of Sammy Hagar-era material.) He's very talented, and has a clear love and respect for Van Halen, which are a good combination! For reference, Chris has not visibly used this channel since last year, and while he has no videos of any of his band work here, his mother's YouTube channel features a nice amount of videos from older Nixxon Dixxon concerts.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

Van Halen "Panama" cover Kramer 5150: With over 27,000 views, this is Chris' most popular YouTube video at present. Posted on June 2nd, 2011, it's a cover of Van Halen's "Panama" on his custom Kramer 5150 guitar. Very well performed, the video could be a bit lighter, but he has a very nice grasp on this Van Halen classic and plays it very proficiently! Die-hard Van Halen fans should be impressed, but be sure to give his 5 other guitar covers a look for more examples.

My Homemade Van Halen EVH Frankenstein Replica Guitar (see description): Of Chris' three early-2012 videos showcasing his Eddie Van Halen guitar customizations (including an Ernie Ball OLP customization & this EVH Charvel Star replica), this video will be most familiar to casual fans, as it showcases Chris' custom replica of Eddie's legendary Frankenstein guitar, complete with a detailed breakdown of used parts and techniques. Set to Van Halen instrumental tracks with no vocal descriptions, you can still see the work that he put in, and it definitely looks the part of an EVH original! Note that Chris teased many more custom guitar videos, including of his Kramer 5150, but only the three made it to his channel.

Alex Van Halen Snare Sound / Ludwig LM402 snare drum: Chris' last performance video from May 2012 is uniquely of him drumming, mainly on his Ludwig LM402 snare drum (the same type that Alex Van Halen uses), though he gradually transitions to playing the entire kit. Though you can barely see Chris beyond his hands and knee, he does show clear drumming talent here, the sound is close to Alex's own playing, and it'd be interesting to hear Chris cover a full Van Halen song on drums!

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, we'll head back to Sault Ontario for our third straight single-channel profile, as through 100% random selection, I have chosen defunct local metal band Alter White's YouTube channel, featuring songs from them and former guitarist Mike Matthews' later solo work! Watch out for that on or around June 22nd, and stay tuned for our review of Jack Spades' debut EP on Saturday! Thanks everyone!

This Weekend's Concert Previews, Bear Hunters CD Updates, And More!!

Hey guys, just a brief scheduling note for our posts over the next few days. I'll be in St. Joseph Island until at least Saturday (maybe until Sunday) visiting my dad, and as a result, I'll likely be without internet for the duration. That doesn't mean the site's slowing down though, as I have two auto-posts planned to fill time in the interim, those being this month's YouTube Channel Profile later today, and our review of Jack Spades' debut EP on Saturday, so watch out for them then! Before then however, we have a new post today featuring new albums updates, some recent notes, and previews of our currently known weekend concert previews (we'll address any late notice ones that we missed when I get back), so here's what you need to know!

Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison will continue his ongoing weekly concert arrangement at The Harp Bar & Grill on Pine Street with his usual hosted jam night TOMORROW! Entering week #25 of this current run, this will likely be the second straight week where Tym is only playing one night at the former Madison's Pub, as we're under the assumption that The Harp is screening UFC 173 on Saturday, similarly to how a UFC PPV pre-empted one of Tym's shows a few weeks back. Of course, if we hear anything to the contrary before this afternoon, we'll let you know! Either way, Tym's skilled hard rock covers are always a dependable source of entertainment, and the jam/open mic angle should provide it's own interest, so be at The Harp TOMORROW for all of the action! Admission is likely free, you must be 19 to attend, and there's a likely 10:00 PM start time. Check the above links for more info, and here's Tym live at The Harp in December!

Lastly for known hard rock concerts this weekend that had advance notice, Charlevoix, Michigan classic metal trio Peril will begin a three weekend run of gigs in the Eastern Upper Peninsula with shows TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT at The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino! This weekend's dates will be their first in St. Ignace in almost 3 months, and come in advance of shows over the next two weekends at the Sault Michigan Kewadin, though the announced date on May 31st has been relocated to Boyne City for unannounced reasons (source here), so make sure not to come next Saturday if you want to see Peril! Their entertaining classic metal renditions will be at The Northern Pines Lounge this weekend with 9:00 PM start times each night, 21+ age limits, and no announced cover charges. Check the above links for more details, head down to St. Ignace for a perilous good time, and here's the guys live in Vanderbilt in 2012!

Next up, we finally have some new updates concerning local death metal band The Bear Hunters' long-awaited debut album "Eternal Hibernation", so what should you know? In honour of hitting 400 likes on their Facebook page, guitarist Mitch Sirie revealed on Monday that mixing has begun for it, and that he will be handling that along with mastering & physical packaging. Preview clips will likely be posted on the band's YouTube channel in the near future, along with more content, while he also revealed that "a very talented artist" is doing the cover artwork, which he highly praised. Mitch is aiming to finally release "Eternal Hibernation" in July, and there will definitely be a CD release party connected to it. After over 4 years of work, it's great to finally hear some new updates concerning the album, and hopefully the newest indications aren't incorrect or premature! Stay tuned for updates as they roll in, and of course, for their next concert bookings!

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

  • Local doom/alternative trio Brutaly Fatal have announced that they've changed their name to The Revolution, as per their Facebook page on Tuesday. The name change was apparently made to better represent the band & their current music, and it's a move that mirrors the original Brutaly Fatal's name change to Re-Born earlier this year for similar reasons. I'm all for the name change, especially as it kills the "brutally" misspelling once & for all, and stay tuned for more big announcements from The Revolution!
  • In his newest Reverbnation update, Dafter, Michigan solo hard rocker Ken "SweetKenny" Sutton revealed that three songs from his upcoming 10-track album "This End Up!" (still scheduled for a July release) are now streaming at this link! Entitled "She", "Mary Ann", and "I Met Her At The Taco Stand", give them a listen in advance of his next album release, and stay tuned for our next full review of one of Ken's albums then!
  • The newest episode of Local2's video music profile series Tuned with Donna Hopper was posted online at this link on Saturday! It mostly focuses on this month's Passport To Unity festival, plus an interview with recent out of town rappers A Tribe Called Red, but there are some familiar faces among the P.T.U. performers that were filmed, including ex-Quite Frankly singer Ryan Seabrook and Swampstravaganza 2013 performer Guy Smith. Note as well that the concert calendar segment accidentally covers the now-cancelled Cross Dog show that was planned for July 24th.

That's all for today, but stay tuned for an auto-post of this month's YouTube Channel Profile later today! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A New Band Page Discovery, Plus Plenty Of Recent News Items!!

We're back with some assorted news today, mostly to clear out recent shorter items that we haven't yet covered on here, but we are leading off with a new discovery of a band page relating to some recently prominent musicians (and brothers) that we never covered on here, so here's what you need to know!

In looking up recent Project 421 guest singer Travis McKenzie's past music work, I came across a website for one of his old bands, so what should you know? We technically already have this band linked on the site under their last name 20 Pack of Marshmallows, but among short lived stints under the Manganese and Warning names, they were first called Wanko Twist from their 2008 inception until around mid-2009. Travis sang lead and played guitar in this era of the band, and at the time, he was joined by his older brother Curtis (of Haggith & Project 421 fame) on guitar, Darren Vlasoff on drums, and while Wanko Twist didn't have a bassist, Curtis' long time bandmate Daniel Horton served as their manager. There's obvious Haggith connections to their sound and set, with Haggith originals such as "Wanko" (naturally) and "Loverbeam" starting in this project, but their sound didn't attain a direct grunge influence until their brief run as Manganese. An album named "Battle Royale" was once planned, while they did play some Dunnplugged gigs at the former Sir James Dunn Collegiate under this name.

It's interesting to read up on Curt's past band work, which had a lot of ambition and effort. and while none of the Wanko Twist videos linked on their site survive, songs played by this band under their later 20 Pack of Marshmallows incarnation can be seen on his YouTube channel. From what is currently available, you can see the talent and promise from the McKenzie brothers and their collaborators, so give them a look at the above links, and read more about this band's eventful run via Curt's solo Facebook page!

Finally for today, here's nine assorted shorter updates from the last while, as we clear out many recent items! As usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist, event, or website name:

  • A post on local goregrind label Blood Shed Productions' Facebook page on May 11th by Brutaly Fatal frontman Austin McCrae indicated that the label was "planning on having a show at The Oddfellows (Hall)", and were seeking performers and sorting through details, though a date wasn't announced there. Whether this is connected to Heavy North Entertainment or will be an independent show is yet uncertain, but stay tuned for potential details!
  • Sault Michigan metal band Chained Memories have announced that they are "a failed project" & "no longer a band", as per a post by drummer/founder Mike Rynberg on their Facebook page on Sunday, which cites various personal differences for their breakup. Chained Memories had been active off & on since 2009, but never managed to fully get off the ground, or even post live material during their run. Original Eastern U.P. metal bands haven't had an easy go lately, but hopefully everyone stays active in music, and best of luck to Mike, Ryan, Sean, Chris, and other former members in the future!
  • Though local goregrind solo project Crucify The Whore won't be playing live again until next month, they're still busy, as leader Tyler Gibson announced on their Facebook page on Sunday that their upcoming demo album "Welcome To Earth" is complete! Whether that refers to the sessions or full pressing isn't clear yet, but keep an eye out for it this summer!
  • The Jack Spades EP release show at The Rockstar Bar on Friday was covered by SooToday's Donna Hopper for this article (entitled "Jack the planet!") that was posted online the next day. Solid write-up, and there's also very nice photos of the bands, though they're all in black and white, and none are from Johnny Belanger & Jesse Cook's acoustic set. Click here to see 7 photos of Jack Spades, 5 of Project 421, and 3 of The Elements!
  • On Friday, organizers of the annual Sault Michigan benefit concert festival LemmaFest updated this year's Facebook event page to clarify some recent news, including that bands will be confirmed this coming week, other events and themes are in the works, and that fans shouldn't worry about a recent minor setback, with weather the only pressing concern this year. I didn't hear any negative rumours, but good to know things are going alright, and stay tuned for more!
  • I have read recent Facebook personal postings concerning a new Sault Michigan band named Nose Dive that has been playing live gigs in the area recently, and their lineup features singer/guitarist Fran Blackwood (Electric Motor Fish), ex-Clownsack bassist Tony Rogers (most recently of No Decision), and Power Slug drummer Bob Helsten. The lineup is promising, but I have yet to find an online page for them, nor confirmation of their sound/genre. If we hear anything, we'll let you know!
  • Local/St. Catharine's death metal trio Shit Liver will head back to Cochrane, Ontario in late June for another set at their annual Touch of Death Metal & Punk Fest, as per the event's Facebook page. Awesome to see them back this year, so keep it in mind for next month if you're in the area! For reference, London death metal band D3athcharg3r (featuring the Soo's own Steve Rhodes & Andrew Angelic) have also been confirmed, which is awesome too!
  • SooToday's current poll on their website poses this question: "Would you listen regularly to a local Internet radio station?", with choices including variations of "Yes" relating to where you'd be listening, along with "Nope, not interested." It's not clear yet whether this is an early feeler towards a Village Media-launched station, but over 55% of voters have chosen "Nope" as of this writing. If you want to show your support either way, vote above, as this could work well if it's a serious thought!
  • According to posts on their Facebook page over the weekend, local hard rock band The Suicide Kings were joined by Wishbone drummer Brent Royer on temporary vocals for most of their weekend at The Rednecks Saloon, after Mike Gaetano bowed out due to strep throat complications. Brent has lead vocal experience from bands like Settle For Silver and the original Turner Up, so hopefully he was a solid fill-in, and I wonder if anyone got any footage?

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes soon, plus this month's YouTube Channel Profile on Thursday! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jack Spades EP Details, Papa Fogals Chair Reunion Footage, And More Videos!

In our second post of the day, we have new videos from bands on each side of the border, recent news coverage of a band reunion earlier this month, and leading off, updates on a recent CD release, so read on below for what you need to know, and check out last month's poll results & this month's new poll in the post below this one!

Let's start today with some details concerning physical copies of local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades' debut EP "The First"! This is the CD copy's album cover (which I replicated from a scan of it), and while the whole booklet is in a monochrome colour scheme, the CD's actual label has a tan aged look to it. The back booklet of original copies features autographs from all 5 band members in this pressing, while the inside features the band's lineup, thank yous from each band member, and photos from Jack Spades' set opening for Anvil in March, as taken by SooToday's Donna Hopper. In terms of the technical credits, both Jamie Vincent and Mark Rand are given equal production credit, while the booklet and logos were created by Frightlight guitarist Kevin Powe. Copies were $10 at the EP release show on Sunday, but that also included admission to the show, so it's not clear yet whether they'll drop in price in other sale situations. Aside from an odd cut on the edge of my booklet, everything's really solid, so get your copy of "The First" A.S.A.P., and stay tuned for our review!

Next up, remember how Thessalon/London metal quintet Papa Fogals Chair reunited locally on May 3rd at The Moose Lodge in honour of bassist Mike Bird's stag & doe? Well, Local2 cameras got to attend this event and film a report that you can now watch at this location! Remember, Local2's video host doesn't allow external video embedding. Featuring an assortment of video footage of their reunion set (their first since 2010), drummer Derek Turner talks to the camera about PFC and a bit about their history alongside his bandmates, before transitioning at the end to footage of Derek's most prominent active metal band Garden of Bedlam, who were playing live for the first time in 2014 that night. No footage was included of Derek's other band The Side FX's set at the stag and doe, and we still await some new public updates from their camp. Though a stag & doe isn't an event that we tend to cover on here because of their personal nature, it's great to see Papa Fogals Chair back together, even if for one night! Check out the very solid video footage above, and hopefully this wasn't the last we've seen of them!

Closing today with videos that we can embed, here's a brand new preview of Sault Michigan solo project Drayton Fever's upcoming studio work for label Werehold Records' Friday the 13th music event next month! Posted onto the label's YouTube channel yesterday, this is the first Werehold video in 5 months, and the first depicting a live performance in 2 years. It's of project leader Doug Reed playing guitar for one of two new Drayton Fever songs planned to be a part of the June 13th upload spree, though does the video have to be so close with no camera angle changes? Short, but promisingly heavy, so give it a look below!

Finally, Brutaly Fatal frontman Austin McCrae posted a pair of new solo videos onto their Facebook page yesterday! Both are early versions of new original songs for the band, and they include "Belly of the Beast" and, as embedded below, the longer "Cold Temptress". Both are solid early glimpses at new material, but they're obviously unfinished without Rainey & Brandon involved, and I have a feeling Austin's not going full power on the vocals for these takes. We'll see how they turn out, but give Austin's new Brutaly Fatal song previews a look above & below!

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

Last Month's Poll Results & Our New Poll!!

As it's the 18th of the month, it's now time for this month's new poll to kick off, and also, time to end last month's poll! As you may remember, last month's poll posed this question to you guys: What was your favourite local metal/hard rock concert of 2013? We got a very solid 50 votes in the past month (2 higher than in the late 2013 poll), so thanks to everyone for voting, but who won our last "favourite _____ of 2013" polls? The results are below!

The Dayglo Abortions at The Rosie on September 9th (17 votes, 34%)
Haggith at The Algonquin Pub on December 7th (13 votes, 26%)
40 Sons at The Rockstar Bar on February 28th (9 votes, 18%)
The Bear Hunters at The Oddfellows Hall on October 30th (2 votes, 4%)
Biipiigwan at The Moose Lodge on November 24th (1 vote, 2%)
Airbourne at The Canadian Nightclub on August 19th (1 vote, 2%)
Bunchofuckingoofs at The Roosevelt Hotel on August 12th (1 vote, 2%)
Swampstravaganza III at Oddfellows Hall on August 10th (1 vote, 2%)
Frightlight at The Roosevelt Hotel on August 1st (1 vote, 2%)
The Golers at The Roosevelt Hotel on July 4th (1 vote, 2%)
The Golers at The Roosevelt Hotel on June 20th (1 vote, 2%)
Skeletonwitch at The Canadian Nightclub on June 3rd (1 vote, 2%)
Other (1 vote, 2%)
The Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands from April 3rd-24th (0 votes)
The Ripcordz at The Algonquin Pub on April 13th (0 votes)
The Crusade at The Canadian Nightclub on May 20th (0 votes)
Striker at The Roosevelt Hotel on June 25th (0 votes)
Oddzfest 2013 at The Oddfellows Hall on July 26th (0 votes)
The Ripcordz at The Roosevelt Hotel on October 26th (0 votes)
Bam Margera at The Canadian on December 14th (0 votes)

What do you guys think? In ascending order, I'm very surprised by the amount of shows that got 0 votes, especially as all received at least one in the half year polls, including the early 2013-winning Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands, and both of last year's Ripcordz shows (which combined for 7 votes!) It's all in who votes, I guess. 8 shows (and "Other") were tied for fifth with a single vote, including a surprising 5 vote dropoff for Frightlight's short film benefit last August, but most finished in an appropriate location given their totals in their predecessor polls. Fourth place went to the Devil's Night show at The Oddfellows Hall last fall (which was only a slight drop from the half-year poll), while in the biggest surprise of all, the first 40 Sons show from last year surged from 1 to 9 votes! More fans must have been on the site in the past month than in the summer! Again though, the late 2013 poll's top 2 voted shows held their spots for the full year poll, with the Haggith farewell show holding steady in 2nd, and in 1st place with 17 votes (34% of the total) was The Dayglo Abortions' gig at The Rosie on September 9th!

I'm still impressed with how well the most recent Dayglo concert has done in these polls, especially given the rainstorm's severe impact on the turnout, but longtime fans of theirs will know exactly what a great show that they put on, and it was well worth the weather!  As one of the last major metal/punk shows at The Rosie, it's extra notable in hindsight too. Thanks to everyone for voting, and here's to a great 2014!

As for this month's poll, I thought I'd cover a topic I've debated doing for a while, but in the wake of some recent concert venue closures and changes in the area, this makes sense to see where people's hearts lie. With that said, here's this month's question: Which of these recently closed local concert venues do you miss seeing metal/hard rock shows at the most? I often hear complaints about there being few places for local metal bands to play at, and we have lost a few notable venues in the last 5 years, but which one has the most fan support nowadays? To be included in the poll, the venue must have closed in the given incarnation in the past 5 years (so no Club Princess), it can't be still open in the form we last knew (i.e. Runway Park), and it must have hosted multiple bands that are on the SMS (so no Bottoms' Up Lounge.) For sake of clarification, we haven't included venues that have the same general band roster despite a name and theme change, hence the absence of The Nicolet Tavern & Madison's Pub.

With that said, I've chosen 8 recently closed concert venues in Sault Ontario to focus on this month (plus two more general options for fans who don't agree with the 8 given), so read on below for your choices in this month's poll!

The original Coch's Corner: Though Coch's Corner lives on at the former Foggy Notions location, I know there are fans who miss it's prior location underneath the former Days Inn on Bay Street, which became a Holiday Inn Express shortly after Coch's moved in early 2012. Unlike it's current incarnation, the old Coch's Corner welcomed non-acoustic metal and punk bands, and hosted many of J.D. Pearce's late 2000s shows, but do you miss the old Coch's Corner's inviting downtown locale?

The Eastgate Hotel: This is a bit of a cheat given that The Eastgate was long closed by the time of it's demolition in 2010, but it was still an active bar as recently as 2006, and there were still some fans holding out hope that it'd return as an active bar/venue in the late 2000s. Now the site of Algoma Insurance parking, The Eastgate was once a go-to location for metal concerts back in the day, but do you miss it more than it's more recent counterparts?

Foggy Notions: The other venue that ended as we knew it due to Coch's Corner's move into it's building in 2012, Foggy Notions (last known as Feedback in late 2011) was a long-time mainstay for music fans at 708 Queen Street East, and before then at 624 Bay Street under a few different owners, hosting a number of notable local and out of town bands, including many metal bands! Small but inviting, do you miss Foggy's more than other recent closed venues?

GLOW/The Other Place: I've long heard discussion relating to buying this Gore Street venue and re-opening it, but nothing has came out since GLOW closed it's doors for the last time in late 2010. Also briefly known as the Nite-Life Dance Club, fans may remember a number of big metal shows there in 2007 & 2008 under it's Other Place moniker, and it had a successful run for dance fans too, but do you miss the venue at 119 Gore more than the rest?

The Outback: The closure & demolition of Sault College's on-campus bar and concert venue in early 2012 may have been a long-term gain in order to facilitate their new Student Wellness Centre (which hosts The Outback's successor Odeno), but there are bound to be many Sault College alumni (like myself) who miss The Outback for it's occasional heavier concerts and memorial events! Do you miss The Outback the most?

The Roosevelt Hotel: Admittedly, the jury's still out on the future of this Korah Road venue as a metal host after recent news media hinted that the now renamed Reggie's West is open to booking out of town bands, but given the original Reggie's Place's full country theme, some fans still have reservations. Largely thanks to The Rosie's former metal & punk night series', it became a go-to spot for concerts in the early 2010s, but is it your most missed recent venue?

Smack Daddy's/Bossy's: This recently closed central bar & venue was most active in mid-2011 as Bossy's Pub N' Grub for metal bookings (including Tym Morrison, Hollow, and more), but longtime patrons probably know it best as Smack Daddy's Bar & Grill. Never as active for SMS-covered concerts as other choices in this poll, Smack Daddy's is being torn down this year to construct office buildings, but will you miss it more than other examples?

The Vibe Lounge: Active as a bar & venue in 2010 & 2011, The Vibe Lounge on Goulais Avenue served fans even deeper into the west end than The Rosie, and it hosted a fair amount of (largely cover) hard rock bands during it's short run. Still the home of the Polish-Canadian Hall (which has recently been a popular wrestling venue), The Vibe Lounge did have some loyal fans when open, but were you among them?

Other: Do you not particularly miss any of these concert venues the most? Is there another closed concert venue that you miss more than these 8? Were you thinking of an older venue like The Windsor Park Hotel or the Ramada Inn? Maybe one that's just been inactive recently, like the Bellevue Park Bandshell? If for any reason, you don't miss any of the above bars and venues, vote for "Other"!

VOTE TODAY!! You have until June 18th to cast your votes, so let's see what you guys think about this month's topic, and let's see what people's general thoughts are on closed concert spots! That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news later today! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jack Spades EP Release Party Review!!

Hey guys, it's now time for our review of last night's Jack Spades EP release show at The Rockstar Bar! Before we get into the performers, I should mention that physical copies of their EP "The First" were $10 at the door, while patches, posters, and more band paraphernalia were also on sale at the door upon entry, and we will give a more in-depth look to the CD this coming week (and yes, our review is also imminent!) Good turnout last night, fans were very active by night's end, but it did start slowly. Now, to the bands!

The night started with a late addition acoustic set from Jack Spades bandmates Johnny Belanger & Jesse Cook, with Johnny reprising his singing & acoustic guitar work from the Sewer Swampstravaganza open mic block last week. Aside from Jesse's addition on second guitar, this set was largely similar in song choices (if not exact) with Johnny's open mic set, mixing punk covers of bands like Flogging Molly and Social Distortion with alternative & indie rock covers from the likes of Blue October and Biffy Clyro. Like then, Johnny has underrated talents as a singer and guitarist, but I remember him playing both when we were still at Bawating in the mid-2000s, and it's nice to see him break out of the drumkit more nowadays! I assume too that his covers reflect more of his own music preferences, so why hide them for so long? Jesse's guitar work was a nice addition, but he seemed a bit out of place at times, though we'd get his more usual fare later in the night. Solid start to the evening, we'll have to see if this goes any further!

Next up was local classic metal quintet Project 421, though with a temporary change up front, as singer Curtis McKenzie is out of town at the moment due to work commitments. They kept it in the family for his mystery replacement though, as his younger brother Travis (who played guitar in some of Curt's early bands) filled in on vocals in his place, though guitarist Blair Burch sang lead on the first two songs. While Travis doesn't have his brother's vocal range, and his stage presence did seem a little forced at times, he does possess a punk tone that fit pretty well on Judas Priest, Kiss, and Metallica covers, and I'd be curious to hear him in a full time band again! Everyone else was in their usual form, with Blair's guitar work standing out, and Larry Mousseau's experience drum skill showing throughout the set! This might not be the optimal way to see Project 421, but Travis filled in nicely, and if the need arises, they should give him the call again!

Co-headlining was local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements (replacing Destroilet) in their first show since Medi-Fest in March, and they left a good impression in their Rockstar Bar debut!  Their set featured assorted funk rock covers including heavier songs from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Tenacious D, and Nine Inch Nails (featuring Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce on guest vocals), and they handled each pretty well, though a few were a bit messy. Like when I saw The Elements at the former Roosevelt Hotel, I found them hard to photograph partially due to how animated singer Rob Speers was, but his voice held up well on their songs, while it was nice seeing Alex Hagerman on drums again, and James White's skilled bass work was a constant! The delay before their set was the only major complaint I had, as The Elements have a good thing going that's a bit different from the norm, and hopefully we see them back at it soon!

And finally, your headliners were local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, who tore through a slightly sped-up set of originals and covers in honour of their release of their new EP, and fans were very receptive! Along with all 5 songs from the new disc, Jack Spades' setlist also included newer originals like "Frederick" and "Motorwolf" and Misfits & SNFU covers, and their freewheeling intensity and attitude served them well with the crowd! J.D. Pearce's vocals were up to par from past shows, Justin Lam's bass was excellent as usual, and in his third set of the night, Jesse Cook showed no obvious wear as he tore through some very nice guitar solos! Aside from a late mishap during "To The Left", things seemed to go off without a hitch, and hopefully last night's show kicked off Jack Spades' EP in style! If nothing else, they jacked The Rockstar Bar, and there's definitely more to cover next!

Overall, this was a very fun show, especially with the release party frills and seeing some bands who aren't regulars at The Rockstar Bar at this very nice venue, and be sure to look for more on "The First" this week! Photos and videos from the show can be seen at this link or via our Facebook page, and as for videos, here's Johnny & Jesse covering The Verve Pipe's "The Freshman", Project 421 & Travis McKenzie covering Iron Maiden's "Running Free", The Elements covering Volbeat's "The Mirror & The Ripper", and Jack Spades playing their short originals "Crossroads" & "They Live"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for last month's poll results and this month's new poll TOMORROW, plus new news soon! Thanks everyone!