Monday, February 29, 2016

The Strange Coyotes - "Strange Coyotes II" CD Review!!

It's now time for our 80th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene (and first of the year from a Sault Ontario band), as we're looking at defunct local experimental/improv metal trio The Strange Coyotes' posthumous second & final album "Strange Coyotes II"! Surprisingly released on February 16th through PaperClip Productions, this album is the delayed realization of plans to record & release a live album from their final concert at Sault Band-O-Rama at The Primavera Banquet Hall on November 21st, 2014, with six posthumous filler tracks recorded earlier this year at PaperClip Productions. The album features singer/bassist James Watterworth (a.k.a. Delusionair Lionhair), drummer Mike Haggith, and singer/guitarist Chase Wigmore on the first five full songs, but he had to drop out afterward due to illness, and was replaced by Crucify the Whore mainman Tyler "Ringsnaps" Gibson (who played the same concert with Rotopsy) on guitar for three songs. As well, all but one of the filler tracks feature Mike alongside his former Haggith bandmate Jordan Leach as a guest performer.

Physical copies can be bought through the label for $5, while digital copies are available on a "name your price" model via their Bandcamp page, but support the band and consider buying a copy! With 16 songs running for about 33 minutes, let's kick things off with the first song, "Kaylore"!

Starting with a fun improvised bass solo from James, this is a familiar song from his own solo concert sets, with the band in their usual freewheeling funk/metal style here! Featuring a fun sing-along chorus and a swing-ish rhythm, it works well in this live recording, which was well done at the soundboard to capture minimal background noise. James' falsetto vocal moments don't come through as clearly on the choruses here like they did live, but everyone's on form musically, with Chase laying down some solid guitar riffs and licks, and Mike keeps up well on drums, adding up to a solid and fun start to the album! The first filler track, entitled "Bolvine Warp Speed", is next, and it transitions from low, cow-sounding effects to comical dialogue from Mike & Jordan, with other sounds thrown in for good measure. There's not much to say here, but at 54 seconds long, they definitely didn't waste that time!

Third is "Slap 'N Tickle" from the concert recording, and it's an up & down number with effective instrumentation from the guys, especially in between the choruses, showing nice creativity on the fly on the guitar & bass, as the title would imply! However, the vocals (I believe from Chase) aren't overly loud in the mix until he starts yelling late, and the chorus instrumentation seems a little up-tempo compared to the improv-funk that surrounds them. That's followed by "Change", which has a bit of a blues influence on this James-sung number that has some heavy chorus work, melodic jam guitar, and nicely paced drumming! I think the low vocals sound a little forced at times, and the words aren't as clear here as they could be, but you get more of a sense of James' singing range here than on "Kaylore". It's arguably the heaviest song yet on "Strange Coyotes II", and it's a nice sampling of the three guys in their element!

Song #5 is the second filler track, "Shepherd's Pie Stew", which is just five seconds of what sounds like backmasked & filtered dialogue, plus other effects. If there's a message here, I can't detect it, but given it's length, it still doesn't add much to the CD. Next is an 83 second "Sax Jam" from the Band-O-Rama event, with James breaking out his saxophone for this number, which is largely an instrumental aside from random screams. It's fun for it's length, and has a clear energy, but I have to admit, the saxophone isn't all that loud here. The third filler track is next, entitled "Swallowing Band-Aids", and it continues the odd experimental tone of the first two, with random instrumental segments, sped up vocalizations, and background effects running for 35 seconds. It's not boring, but it's very hard to explain in detail (in other words, it fits with the other fillers!)

The eighth track on the album is "I'm Gonna Love You", another import from James' solo repertoire, and it turns out well in a full band form, with his bass plucking and Chase's strong guitar soloing meshing well! It has a catchy rhythm, and Mike's mini-drum solo at the end is a nice touch, but the lyrics could be a little more diverse, and the song seems to go by a little fast compared to how I recall it from concerts I attended. Still, this is a solid number, and effectively fills things out in the process! Another 2016 filler track is next, that being "Townhouse Seven", which features multiple recitations of "Townhouse" over some guitar instrumentation and added effects, running for 31 seconds. Another peculiar addition to the album, but again, it's not boring!

Tenth is "Best That You Can", which also comes from James' solo sets, and marks Tyler Gibson's first credited appearance during the set/album after Chase had to bow out. He mostly provides some guitar noodling to bookend the song, but it holds up well as a mid-tempo number with a catchy cadence.and It isn't the heaviest of James' own songs, but it's a solid sing-along track all the same! Then we have "First Time Donor", which is more of a straightforward jam rocker that has a bit of a Sykotyk Rampage feel at times, and involves Tyler more on guitar than "Best That You Can" did. It doesn't have as much of the freewheeling feel that the songs with Chase had, but it's a steady rocker with a nice driving riff and some solid jamming from the three, and it has potential if cleaned up a bit!

The album's second-last song from The Primavera Hall concert is "Sneeze", which is also a fan favourite solo original from the Delusionair himself,  and is also the longest song on "Strange Coyotes II". More than any song yet, this largely comes across as a solo performance that Mike just happened to be guesting on, with no discernible guitar input from Tyler here. I don't know if James ever plans to release a solo album of his own, but this gives a nice glimpse of his creativity and bass talents, with the song rarely sticking with one sound for too long, and while guitar would have filled it out more (not to mention clearer vocals), it holds up for fans! The curiously titled "Somewhere on the Ship of Mutant Moon Cows in the Slop" comes next as the last of five filler tracks involving Jordan Leach, and it features random pitch-shifted dialogue and randomness that will leave you guessing, even at 24 seconds!

The last filler track, entitled "Weird Wolf" (apparently from Mike solo) follows with a 64 second stream of consciousness of effects, random vocals, and backmasking, though here, I can actually discern clear words when this is played in reverse with Audacity (though the track doesn't make a lot more sense than it does in regular playback.) The live concert portion concludes with "Colourful Daydream", which features James, Mike, and Tyler going into a doomy jam style with a relatively intense chorus, strong guitar improvisation, and a good & steady drum beat to fit the proceedings. It's not as chaotic and random as the songs with Chase, but they came through to end their set in a solid fashion! The album closes with "The Worst Band", which basically amounts to their concluding remarks at the end of their Band-O-Rama set, complete with some self-deprecation. At just 16 seconds, it doesn't really stand on it's own, so why not just combine it with "Colourful Daydream"?

So, what are my final thoughts on The Strange Coyotes' posthumous live album? It's a little uneven, but it's an entertaining look back at this fan favourite trio that definitely broke up too soon! Compared to their 2013 debut (which featured new studio originals), this features songs that are more familiar to fans from both their own and James' solo concerts, obviously so given it's a live album, and it has extra familiarity on that basis. Everyone performs well, with James Watterworth showcasing his bass skill and vocal range, Chase Wigmore performing strongly with some creative guitar solos and riffs, and Mike Haggith holding up his end of the bargain on drums! The recording quality is solid too, but the vocals could often be either low in the mix (as was James' saxophone), or not all that clear when trying to make out lyrics. While the Chase half holds the album's best overall moments, Tyler Gibson admirably filled in late, though it'd have been interesting to hear him on "Sneeze" or with some more vocal input.

The six filler tracks, on the other hand, are entertaining in a bizarre sort of way, but they just feel like an exercise in filling 5 minutes of an album while being random for the sake of being random, and interrupt the flow of the otherwise live album that we have here. Overall though, the live songs give us a strong sampling of The Strange Coyotes from their 2014 reunion, and they hadn't lost a step at the time! Fans will definitely want to check this out, and you can do so at the above links! I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, but what's on tap for March? At this point, I'm unsure, but be sure to check out this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post on Wednesday for a sampling of upcoming metal, hard rock, and punk albums, as you never know when one might come out! If nothing new is released, I'm leaning towards reviewing either Haggith's "Apocalypse II" or "XIV" (to tie in with members' shows next month in their current bands) or Integrated System of Machines' self-titled 2015 CD (to tie in with Chris Leask's shows with Highway 63.)

Be it Haggith, I.S.O.M., or something new, look for our next CD review next month, and for more news, notes, updates, features, and more as we begin the month of March! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Black Tremor, Winkstinger, Stiffler's Mom, And Project 906)!!

For this second post on this Saturday, we're covering a pile of LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for the spring months, with some cover band action, an out of town band, a notable return to the stage, and a double shot of punk rock bingo all ahead! Read on below for what you should know in chronological order, and remember to check out current details on the VM Radio Battle of the Bands schedule below this post!

Local extreme metal band Winkstinger will make their long awaited return to the stage on Wednesday, March 16th when they rock The New American Pub as part of the third installment of Six, Two, Oh.'s punk rock bingo series! Last seen in a public live concert in May 2013, it's great to see Jesse & Jonas back on stage with this fun and explosive metal band, and while they're not "punk" per say, they should provide a solid soundtrack for the next punk rock bingo installment in their New A debut! The Facebook event page confirms that they have a new bass player (identity yet to be revealed), but there's no word there about their current singer... is Alan Wells back too, or is someone else now handling vocals? We'll let you know if we hear anything! A rescheduling of the originally planned third punk rock bingo from earlier this month (which would have seen Sam Decter and friends performing), more irreverent prizes await for winners, from CDs to skateboard decks to... breakfast with caller Brent Ellis?!

Admission is once again free (with bingo cards being 50¢ a piece) for this 19+ concert, which has a 9:00 PM start time. For more details, visit the above links! It should be noted that this show takes place the same night as the second semifinal of next month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands (where Jesse Cook is playing during Jack Spades' guest set), but as Winkstinger aren't expected to play at The New A until around midnight, I imagine they can schedule things so Jesse can play at both venues. It's great to have Winkstinger back after an almost three year stage hiatus, so stay tuned for more as it comes in on this punk rock bingo installment!

Next up, let's take a detour to Sault Michigan, where new local hard/blues rock quartet Project 906 will play their second & third live concerts when they rock Dondee Lanes on Friday, April 1st & Saturday, April 2nd! Coming two weeks after their live concert debut in Brimley on March 17th, this will be the first full weekend set from Ten Kings/Full Throttle bandmates Joe Jenkins & Will Storey's newest local band project. We don't hear about regional hard rock bands playing at the Dondee as much as we used to, so we'll have to see how Project 906 do there to start April off! Early start times of 8:00 PM are in effect for these shows, you must be 21 or older to attend, and there's no announced cover charges. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and stay tuned for more from Project 906 when we hear it!

Heading back to Sault Ontario, let's return to The New American Pub once again, where Six, Two, Oh. have announced the planned fourth punk rock bingo installment already, to take place on three weeks after next month's on Wednesday, April 6th! In this case, the punk rock bingo series will welcome an out of town band for the first time that night, they being Black Tremor, an instrumental doom/classical metal trio from Saskatoon, who will bring their violin-laden doom originals to the Soo for the first time. Intriguing sound with some creative flourishes, so check them out if you like the included genres! Local doom/sludge trio AlgomA will open in their first local concert appearance since December's second punk rock bingo installment, but it will actually follow a pair of out of town gigs that AlgomA are playing next month alongside bands like Empyrean Plague and IRN in Sudbury & Toronto. Great to hear, and hopefully they continue to spread the doom as they rise in prominence!

According to the Facebook event page, more info is "coming closer to the date", but this currently has a 9:00 PM start time, will be 19+, and while 50¢ cards for that night's bingo with Brent (or "Buck Norris") is to be expected, as well as the requisite irreverent prizes, the presence of an out of town band may warrant a cover charge to be announced. I hope both of these punk rock bingo installments go forth as scheduled, as too many previous attempts have had to be cancelled or postponed, but this round of "doom metal bingo" should be a fun time on April 6th! Keep posted for more details!

Finally for today's all-concert announcement post, local cover hard rock trio Stiffler's Mom will rock The Garden River Community Center on Saturday, April 9th when they provide the house music once again for the second annual Ride For Sight chili cook-off! After a successful first run of this fundraising event for the annual motorcycle rally for blindness prevention & research, this event returns in advance of the Ride For Sight proper once again, with the chili cook-off awaiting fans and foodies alike. Stiffler's Mom will be continuing their strong support of the ride with another set of partying favourites, so keep all of this in mind for April 9th at 7 Shingwauk Street! Tickets are $20 for this ALL AGES event, which takes place at 5:00 PM again, but it's not yet clear on if there will be prize raffles, or where tickets will be available outside of Ride For Sight committee members.

As for the cook-off proper, Redundant frontman Justin Langlois and his wife Monique will return as competitors, and contact the official Facebook event page for details on how you can be one of the 10 entered teams, or to get more details on what should be another fun event for a great cause! That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's CD review and more in the coming days! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (VM Radio Battle Of The Bands 2016)!!

The final schedule for next month's second annual VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub has finally been announced, as per the Facebook event page, so what should you know? After a quieter than expected number of registrations (down from 11 to 5 this year), organizers have contracted the battle from three quarterfinal rounds to two, which means that the battle will now start on Wednesday, March 9th rather than this coming Wednesday. It will still be a multi-night, structured event with semifinals on March 9th & 16th, with the finals taking place as scheduled on March 23rd. Thousands of dollars await in cash & prizes for competitors next month, with VM Radio, Tidal Records, Case's Music, The Rad Zone, Labatt Breweries, Maxx Graphix, and The Canadian proper providing numerous prizes for bands and individual performers alike, just like last year! Though this year's lineup is much smaller, there are 5 talented bands competing in what should be a wide open contest, so here's the semifinal rosters!

The first semifinal on March 9th will welcome three bands to the stage, including the only two returning bands from last year's battle, and they include alternative hard rock trio The Din, new local pop/hard rock quartet Heavy Head, and pop punk quartet Stereo North! The Din are the most battle-tested band in the field, having competed in last year's VM Radio & Speak Easy Battles, but with new guitarist Tammy Hill now in the fold, will the former Mike Haggith & The Din prove that the third time's a charm with a finals run next month? Stereo North made a huge impression in last year's VM Radio Battle by being a part of the ultra-close finish in their second show, but can they build on that with a semifinal win for this year's event? Similarly, March 9th's semifinal is Heavy Head's second ever concert, but with a lineup full of high placing battle alums from the likes of The Suicide Kings, Haggith, and Winkstinger, plus Bear Hunters drummer Johnny Belanger (the only finalist back this year), can Heavy Head deliver another deep run in 2016?

The second semifinal on March 16th will only see two competing bands, but as one is a battle newcomer and the other only debuted in the fall, there will be some extra new blood in the finals the following week! One is local modern/hard rock quartet Eclipse, who feature members of The Din, Haggith, and Project 421 from last year's battles in their newest collaborative project, but this will be their second battle appearance (as they're in March 10th's Speak Easy Battle of the Bands.) Can Eclipse pick up where Project 421 left off last year and move onto the finals, and can both of Daniel Horton's entered bands end up in the finals when all is said & done? The other competing band is acoustic/indie rock quartet K.I.C.K., which will see the first ever battle appearance from this union of Cowboys & Indians, State of Misery, and Starlit Sins alumni. Can The Keep It Cool Kids deliver a big first impression on the battlefront next month?

Much like with last year's guest Pixo Control set, punk/metal quintet Jack Spades will play a guest set at The Canadian to fill out the March 16th lineup, and while this is a non-competitive set (as frontman J.D. Pearce is promoting and co-organizing this battle), you can see Jack Spades compete against The Din, Eclipse, and Heavy Head at The Speak Easy Battle on the 10th. Jack Spades are a natural fit, and they should jack the Canadian (and the planet) on the 16th, so don't miss out on their set either! As was the case in 2013 & 2015's multi-night battles, a wild card slot awaits the highest scoring runner-up band during the semifinals, and remember that being a wild card finalist doesn't mean anything negative come the finals, as Gnaeus won after being wild cards last year. The three finalists will compete for the top $1,000 prize and much more in the finals on Wednesday, March 23rd, so who will earn the right to compete for the championship? Be at The Canadian next month to find out!

Cover charges of $5 for the semifinals and $10 for the finals were originally announced, along with $15 passes for all nights of the battle, which has nightly start times of 8:00 PM and 19+ age limits. Though the lineup is smaller than last year's, there's a lot of local talent, familiar faces, and intriguing newer artists, and with last year's finalists largely working in studio right now, the field is wide open! Stay tuned for continuing updates on this year's VM Radio Battle of the Bands as they come in, and don't miss out on March 9th, 16th, and 23rd! That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news and features soon! Thanks everyone!

Friday, February 26, 2016

YouTube Channel Profile Series: ninezero & battlelionivan's Channels

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profiles, as we once again profile 1-3 YouTube channels whose content is at least 50% comprised of local metal, hard rock, or punk videos! Today's randomly selected channels come after the first channel selected only had one video, so we added a second channel to fill things out. These offer up a music video from one prominent band, and jam sessions from a notable Sault Michigan artist, so read on below for this month's profiles in this ongoing series!
ninezero's Channel (

Owner: YouTube user ninezero (identity unknown, but I don't believe they're locally based)

Channel Timeline: Launched on March 18th, 2006; Videos posted from July 15th, 2009 through January 15th, 2014

Channel Summary: Of the two videos uploaded by ninezero, one is a live clip from an Emerson Hart concert in Massachusetts, and the other is local/Toronto pop punk quartet Treble Charger's 2002 music video for "Don't Believe It All", from their latest album "Detox". Uploaded at the time as a higher quality version than previously existed on YouTube (albeit recorded from MTV2), "Don't Believe It All" is both Treble Charger's last released single & music video to date, and is themed around parodies of Asian movies, with frontman Greig Nori playing roles in a Godzilla parody & two action/kung fu flicks, and the band proper performing in what looks like an abandoned factory. Fun music video for a strong late-era song from Treble Charger, and it has a bit of the indie rock vibe from earlier albums as well! However, this channel hasn't visibly been used since 2014, and there are more substantive YouTube channels for Treble Charger content.

battlelionivan's Channel (

Owner: Former Scofflaw/Blind Baby drummer Ivan Schliska

Channel Timeline: Launched on September 27th, 2011; Videos uploaded in January & April 2012

Channel Summary: Ivan's channel features two videos of band work that he undertook in the Sault Michigan area in 2012, including a concert video and a jam session clip.

Why Should You Watch: This channel is worth watching to check out some of Ivan's talented work in the local music scene, as his bands were very entertaining, and he was a solid drummer! However, this channel hasn't visibly been used since 2013 and has no Blind Baby footage, while Ivan has since moved out of the E.U.P.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

Scofflaw rockin "Scofflaw": Ivan's only Scofflaw video upload here is of his former local metal band playing their own self-titled song at a jam session in January 2012. Featuring Ivan alongside singer/guitarist Jeff Barnes and current Retro Troop/Broke On Sunday bassist Barney Gravelle, it's a strong performance from this fan favourite trio, who give off of a punk-meets-Black Label Society at points here! However, the video suffers from having no microphone for Jeff to sing into, and Barney is not in frame of the camera at all (you do see him at the end though.) For more from Scofflaw, check out other YouTube channels and their MySpace page!

tom bergeron: Ivan's other video from April 2012 is of him and other local musicians (including ex-Hammerspace guitarist John Bergeron, hence the title reference to the TV host) jamming one of John's own original songs. Taking on a sound similar to early 1990s grunge, it's a strongly performed song, but the vocals are a bit monotonous, and the camera angle is too high, so only Ivan is captured at any reliable viewpoint. I also can't confirm the other two musicians' identites, but this is a solid jam, and I wonder if this band amounted to anything after this video?

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profiles! Next month in this series, we'll be looking at three channels for the first time this year due to the first channel featuring only two videos of the same type, so we'll be looking at ex-Bring The Fallen guitarist Andrew Chairello's YouTube channel (featuring solo guitar covers), YouTube user brianhmyles' channel (featuring two videos from Buckcherry's Kewadin Casino concert 4 years ago), and Havadder guitarist Jamie July's channel (featuring a 2014 video from one of their concerts.) Look for all of this on or around March 26th, and stay tuned for more news and updates shortly! Thanks everyone!

Sault Michigan Weekend Concert Previews, A New Video, And More Updates!!

Let's wrap up this weekend's concert previews by covering Sault Michigan-area hard rock shows for this final weekend of February, but to round things out, we have a new video from a E.U.P. artist and some assorted recent notes! Now, here's what you should know!

We'll start at the newly re-opened Sault Michigan bar Three One Three on Ashmun (formerly The Back Door), where Kinross classic/hard rockers Banned will hit the stage TONIGHT! This favourite local trio played at 313 Ashmun under it's old identity back when The Back Door experimented with live bands in 2013, but the new ownership look to be more open to hosting live bands, and Banned are the first hard rock-leaning band that we've seen there since the relaunch in a full concert capacity, so definitely consider checking Banned out tonight at the new/old venue! Note that Banned were previously been scheduled to play Manistique's Kewadin Casino tomorrow, so DJ Dan Dunn will be spinning tunes at Three One Three tomorrow instead. A 9:30 PM start time is in effect for this 21+ concert, which doesn't have an announced age limit. For more details, visit the above links, and here's Banned live last year!

Also in the Eastern U.P. this weekend, Sault Michigan hard rock quartet 415E will head south to The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino for concerts TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT! After almost two months off, the former Hubbard-Menard Band will return to the stage for the first time in 2016 this weekend, and they should have two more solid nights of Van Halen-inspired hard rock in store for fans in St. Ignace this weekend, so don't miss out on the action if you're in the area! Theyll be back in St. Ignace in two months' time as well, in case you can't make it to this weekend's shows. Like usual for 415E's Kewadin Casino gigs, there's no announced cover charges for these 21+ concerts, which both start at 9:00 M. For more details, visit the above links, and for a preview, here's 415E live in the Soo early in their run!

Also today, here's a new solo vocal/guitar cover from former Elipzis bassist/Riot! By Night frontman Ryan Harrison, who posted this rendition of Evans Blue's "Cold (But I'm Still Here)" onto his YouTube channel yesterday! His first solo song in two months (though oddly filmed on a vertical cell phone camera angle), it's a nice version of this modern hard rock song from a band who should be familiar from multiple recent Kewadin Casino gigs, so check it out below, and hopefully more turns up from Ryan soon!

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

  • We have moved local/London progressive metal solo project Hiroshima Mutant Mindframe to our inactive band links due to a year's inactivity. The Matt Parr-led solo project hasn't posted a public update since uploading their most recent "Heavytrack" onto their Soundcloud page on February 24th of last year, with other online pages being inactive for band updates longer still. Matt's a talented guitarist, so be sure to follow his continuing band work in London to see what he's now up to!
  • In a clarification for the Fishbowl Festival-opening Like A Pisces concert at The Gore Street Cafe earlier this month, musician and festival/venue head Sam Decter revealed on his blog that an additional band named Bass Monster 7L (perhaps linked to the 7L podcast?) performed at the event, while the previously advertised Lauren McClure did indeed play a solo set that night. Still no idea on the identities of Brash Gash or Insoosticide, but hopefully this Nirvana tribute was a blast to kick the festival off!
  • In a belated update to our profile of December 2009's Kiss Battle of the Bands, we added a trivia note to reference runners-up Lion Ride's battle runs in Toronto in 2010, where they finished in third place at March 2010's Great Canadian T-Shirt Battle, and were semifinalists in that November's Indie Week competition (won by Toronto dance rockers These Electric Lives, whose last drummer was Lion Ride's Mike Indovina.) And lastly, a reference to competitors Bring The Fallen's win in May 2010's Downtown Showdown is also included. I'm surprised that all wasn't noted before, but now we're reasonably caught up going into next month!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for much more news and features in due course! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Mourning Wood) & Sault Ontario Weekend Concert Previews!!

With this last weekend of February upon us, let's begin our concert previews for this weekend with a look at Sault Ontario hard rock shows going down through Saturday, including SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS! Now, with this being a relatively busy weekend, we will tackle Sault Michigan weekend previews in our next post, so look out for them then, and now, here's what you should know on the Canadian side of the border!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Mourning Wood will return to the stage TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT at The Rednecks Saloon! Apologies for the short notice, the band only announced the shows via the official Facebook event page on Monday. Fresh off of their trio of shows at three different venues last weekend, this will be Mourning Wood's first full concert weekend since their Esquire Club shows earlier this month, and their first at the former Nicolet Tavern since the week prior to that. This should be a good opportunity to see Steven, Terry, Paul, and Glen back for a full weekend of varied and often heavy covers, and with an ever expanding setlist, you won't want to miss out at Rednecks TOMORROW and/or SATURDAY! Note that SooToday's entertainment page lists a band named Jukebox (the name 3/4ths of Mourning Wood used last Thursday for their Cocina Del Diablo concert) for a one nighter at the OLG Casino on Saturday, but that conflicts with their Rednecks show, so that's either a separate band or an error.

There's no announced cover charge for TOMORROW & SATURDAY's 19+ shows, which both have 10:00 PM start times. For more details, visit the above links, and for a preview, here's some new videos from Mourning Wood's New American Pub show on Saturday! Newly uploaded to their Facebook page, these are drum-cam videos from Glen Thomas (literally, it's strapped to his head) of the guys covering Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and, as embedded below, INXS' "New Sensation". The camera angles are obviously shaky given how they're filmed, but the guys give some solid grit to these covers, so give them a look above & below!

Moving to previously announced concerts, let's next look at long-time Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison's latest shows in his continuing Gliss Steak & Seafood weekly concert arrangement, as he'll be back at The Quality Inn's restaurant for solo acoustic matinee shows TONIGHT, TOMORROW, and SATURDAY! The last announced concerts of the month for this talented veteran singer/guitarist (though we will add his March shows to our listings when confirmed outside of his website), Tym's skilled blend of classic and hard rock covers should find another solid audience for his continuing three-peat of unplugged evenings downtown, so be sure to keep these in mind if you're up for a softer night of cover favourites! There's no announced cover charges or age limits for these 6:00 PM concerts (but remember that this is a restaurant), so visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Tym live!

Closing with a pair of one night events, let's first touch on the second of three hard rock/punk-featured concert events at the ongoing Fishbowl Festival of Community, Food, Arts, and Culture at The Gore Street Cafe, as acoustic punk solo project Telephone & Address will rock the laundromat TOMORROW NIGHT! Other than it's status as an early event in the first annual Fishbowl Festival, there's no real gimmick or theme to this concert, but Chris Shoust should be up to his usual tricks with his unplugged punk originals, so don't miss out if you like & follow his music! For reference, he will also be premiering his own short film "Darkness" at the cafe on March 3rd, click here for details on that. Telephone & Address will be opening for the new local band Sammy D & The Therapy, who are comprised of festival co-organizer & cafe co-owner Sam Decter alongside recent open mic night hosts Patrick Evans and "Mikey S" (genre & Mikey's full name unclear), but their lineup has talent!

Also, the event page also credits an apparent band named The Mescaline Ditch, who are described as "a dark horse out of left field" and feature "Tube & Computer". I don't have much more on that on this band, but they may be similarly covert and of the "you have to be there to know" vein that Brash Gash & Insoosticide were. Admission is $5 unless you have a $25 pass for the full festival (admission is free in that case), this is an ALL AGES show, and it starts at 7:00 PM tomorrow. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and here's Telephone & Address live at Six, Two, Oh.!

Finally for this post, let's head to The Rockstar Bar, where debuting hard/pop rock quartet Heavy Head will make their local concert debut TOMORROW NIGHT! Featuring ex-Suicide Kings frontman Mike Gaetano, Jack Spades bandmates Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger, and Project 421 bassist Daniel Horton, this is an intriguing local supergroup that unites four busy & prolific local artists, and while they identify as playing rock, pop, and dance, they should fit our coverage unless this is a radical departure from their musical backgrounds and past band work. How will Heavy Head sound in their live debut, and only public concert before they compete in both of next month's battles of the bands? Find out tomorrow! Local pop punk quartet Stereo North will open the proceedings in their second Rockstar Bar show of the month, and also shortly before they compete against Heavy Head at the VM Radio Battle of the Bands next month, so come early for their covers & originals!

For reference, The Boot Hill Crooners will be playing at The Rockstar Bar on Saturday night. A $5 cover charge is likely for tomorrow's 19+ concert, which goes down tomorrow at 10:00 PM. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and for a preview, here's Stereo North live, while we await our first video footage of Heavy Head!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for Sault Michigan previews and more next! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Two New Local Metal Albums, Plus Pixo Control & Id Iota Updates!!

We've got a busy post for your Tuesday afternoon, and while it includes the latest from two rising local bands, we're starting with not one, but two new-ish local metal albums that you should check out, with one from each side of the border! Here's what you should know!

Remember how Sault Michigan epic metal quintet Integrated System of Machines released and sold a CD when they reunited for last July's P.O.D.-headlined concert at The Dreammaker's Theater? Well, we can now confirm a lot more on it, and huge kudos go out to frontman Bob Helsten (a.k.a. Orb Hearthstone) for sending me a full copy! The CD in question (their second) was indeed a fully packaged and pressed album, was self-titled and produced, and features their current lineup of Bob alongside guitarists Chris Leask (Highway 63) and Jonathan Bennett, bassist Art Dietz (The Creepy Little Coffee People), and drummer Bart "Black Trab" Rennels. I.S.O.M.'s newest CD features 10 songs, and their set on July 3rd actually presented the vast majority of the track listing in order (as featured in this YouTube video from the concert). In order, the songs include "Screams", "Patterns", "Stays The Same", "I.S.O.M.", "The Writer", "Last Time", "Prison Farm", and "Been There Before" with "Words To Say" and "Underground" closing the album.

The album is half comprised of 5 re-recordings from their 2008 debut "Apocalyptic Vision", with "Patterns", "The Writer", "Prison Farm", "Been There Before", and "Underground" being the new songs. I can't confirm if the album is available via local merchants (if it is, Grooves Music would be an obvious locale), and if true, what it costs, but in any event, it's not digitally available that I've found. Still, it's great to know more on I.S.O.M.'s newest CD, and hopefully we see the guys back on stage later this year!

The other new album is a complete surprise, as defunct(?) local funk metal trio The Strange Coyotes quietly released their second album onto their Bandcamp page on Tuesday! Entitled "Strange Coyotes II", the album is actually the delayed culmination of their plans to release a live album recorded during their set at Sault Band-O-Rama at The Primavera Hall in November 2014 (their last concert to date), and that is basically what we have here, so it's great to have it out, even if 15 months after the fact! Released through PaperClip Productions, the live nature of it (and The Strange Coyotes' own improvised style) means that their set/this album has no songs in common with their 2013 self-titled debut album, but consequently, more familiar songs from their runs and from bassist James Watterworth's own solo repertoire! He is joined by singer/guitarist Chase Wigmore and drummer Mike Haggith here, but apparently, Chase had to bow out halfway through this set due to illness, so Crucify the Whore mainman Tyler Gibson (who played that show with Rotopsy) filled in for the remainder.

As well, there are five short filler tracks that Mike (who appears to have spearheaded this album's delayed release) recorded with former Haggith bandmate Jordan Leach, so keep those in mind as well. Copies of "Strange Coyotes II" can be bought for $5 through PaperClip Productions, and are available on Bandcamp on a "name your price" model, so be sure to check it out above! Now, with that said, will I.S.O.M. or Strange Coyotes be next for a CD review on the site? We can confirm that The Strange Coyotes are next in the coming week, as that's a brand new album (I.S.O.M.'s came out over 7 months ago), and we can tie it in with Mike's show with The Din earlier this month, but an I.S.O.M. review is definitely coming in the near future! Check out both CDs above!

Next up, here's the latest news from local alternative/hard rock trio The Pixo Control, starting with a disappointing note, as their planned show with Aldous at LopLops Lounge this Friday has been cancelled, as per the deletion of it's Facebook event page on Sunday. A reason for the cancellation was not announced, but hopefully nothing bad happened, and remember that Aldous will still be playing there at the Moon King concert on April 21st! However, there is good news, as The Pixo Control have released a teaser video to their YouTube channel featuring 20 seconds of footage for their first ever music video! It's for their song "Scratch" from December's debut CD "Probably Not", and it was filmed at The Townehouse Tavern in Sudbury when they played there last month. Of course, it features the band's current lineup performing, with mixer/masterer Dustin Goodall now the band's bassist.

Filming was done by Sudbury's Here Kitty Kitty Productions, who The Pixo Control had been filming "footage of all sorts" with at the time, and while one can assume this was the "salty surprise" that the band had mentioned, the teased acoustic performance is not available yet. This is labelled as the "1st teaser" in advance of a full release on March 25th, which strongly hints that more teasers of the full "Scratch" music video are coming, so be sure to be on the lookout for them, as this is shaping up well so far! Give the first teaser clip a look below, and stay tuned for more updates!

Lastly for today, here's the latest from local alternative hard rock band Id Iota, who have been relatively quiet since last summer, so what's new from their camp? The band (featuring Free Beer, Pixo Control, and Vertically Impaired alumni) has shared a pair of new updates on their Facebook page to note that "we've been secretly working on some stuff", and again referenced their current recording sessions, though it's not 100% official on if these are for an album or just some new studio songs. The band also shared this Facebook video of the aforementioned Dustin Goodall at the laptop with drummer Blair St. John listening to a track while delivering some percussion (of sorts) to it. Check it out below, and stay tuned for more!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more updates in the coming week and beyond! Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Speak Easy Battle Of The Bands Lineup Reveal, Plus New Videos!!

Before we get into the meat of this post, let's frame it with a newly confirmed band for next month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian, as new hard/pop rock quartet Heavy Head are the fifth confirmed band for next month, as per the official Facebook event page! With a lineup full of 1st and 2nd place battle finishers with bands like The Suicide Kings, The Bear Hunters, Winkstinger, and Haggith, can they find similar successes next month so soon after their debut? I say that now because they're also confirmed for another big event next month, which leads off this post, along with some new videos, so here's what you should know!

The full performer lineup for the second annual Speak Easy Battle of the Bands has been announced via the official Facebook event page, so who all is playing on Thursday, March 10th? Joining the previously confirmed modern hard rock band Eclipse are the same three acts that were confirmed last fall for the original date, so alternative hard rock trio The Din, returning thrash metal band Pillory, and indie solo musician Jesse Merineau are all still in! They will be joined by punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, the aforementioned Heavy Head (fresh off of their debut show this Friday), indie/electronic rock project Aldous, and former Coverfly bassist Bryan Brown in a rare solo set. Of note, this will be the battle of the bands (and Speak Easy) debut for Aldous, Bryan Brown, Jack Spades, and Pillory, unless any of them are joining The Din, Eclipse, & Heavy Head at next month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands, of which this battle takes place in the midst of.

The Din and Jesse Merineau are the only returning bands from last year, and with none of last year's top 3 in the field next month, this is a wide open contest! It may be surprising to note that this is Jack Spades' first battle of the bands appearance (and first announced concert since October), but members have ample battle experience with bands like The Bear Hunters & T-Rex Manning, and frontman J.D. Pearce has promoted or played at all but one local battle of the bands since 2012. This will also be Pillory's first concert since their 2014 breakup, and their first with new bassist Jordan Leach, but how will they sound come March 10th? As for Bryan Brown, I'm unfamiliar with his solo music, but he played for Coverfly for three years before departing that veteran cover band earlier this year. He's got the skills, but how will he handle the solo spotlight, and what exactly does he play in that regard? Find out on March 10th at Algoma University's campus bar!

Also, three Heavy Head members are pulling double duty on March 10th (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger with Jack Spades, and Daniel Horton with Eclipse), but will those bands snag multiple podium slots? $400, $200, $100 prizes await the 1st-3rd place bands, who each have 15 minute sets to impress the fans (no judges, it's a fan voted event again), and for attendees, admission is $5, it starts at 8:00 PM, and it's 19+ for all but Algoma students with student ID cards. This hould be another entertaining battle, so for more details, visit the above links, and stay tuned for more on both of next month's battles of the bands!

We'll close today with new videos, including the latest YouTube upload from Sault Michigan classical metal project Theatre of Night! Keyboardist Craig Harrison posted this on his YouTube channel yesterday, and it's of him playing his part of a new original song called "I Guess This Is Goodbye". Though obviously still in the works, Craig lays down a solid and pretty sounding keyboard track here, and it should accent the full metal song well when complete! Give it a look below!

Finally for today, here's a pair of new solo drumming videos from Bad Back's Nathan Sauve, as uploaded to his YouTube channel yesterday! His first uploads there in about six months, these are "post-music" performances, with him taking on the handle "DJ Nato" on one, and the songs themselves are called "Haunted Head" and, as embedded below, "Spew on the Motorway". A bit of a diversion from his usual solo performances, Nathan drums here to electronic-influenced music that feels a bit trance-like at times, but his drumming is as sound as ever, so give them a look above & below, and hopefully we hear more from Bad Back soon!

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A New Local Punk Band, Project 421 Updates, And Much More!!

Today's news post is full of shorter recent items, but we also have some details on what's been up with a popular local band recently, and first, here's a new local hardcore punk band to add to our band links, and they are called Programmed To Fail! Note that they spelled it "Programed" with one M, no word yet on if that's intentional. This is actually the band who formerly went as The Transjenners (presumably referencing Caitlyn Jenner), and who had recently deactivated their Facebook page for unannounced reasons, but now it's back with the new, less-topical name. As of this writing, we don't know a lot about Programmed To Fail (including who all is in the band), but they do have a Soundcloud page under their original name that has a short original song named "We Push Back". Running for just 74 seconds, it has the requisite intensity, but it's staticy, ends abruptly, and has very loud vocals. I'm curious to hear more from Programmed To Fail though, so check them out above!

Next up, here's the latest from local classic metal quintet Project 421, who clarified their recent inactivity and concert removals via their Facebook page two weeks ago (our apologies for the delay, I only saw the personal Facebook posting about this at the time.) In a nutshell, guitarist Frank McGillivray's daughter Casey has been brought to the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto due to abdominal tumours, and while she has undergone surgery, they were awaiting further details on her prognosis as of February 7th. As a result, the band is hoping to host a benefit show (date & venue unclear) for Frank's family in order to cover medical costs, and are looking for bands and a P.A. system for said event, though the posting notes that Project 421 themselves likely won't be playing if it happens. This is definitely sad news, but our best wishes and thoughts are with Casey, the McGillivray family, and all affected by this, and hopefully she gets well soon!

And if you're interested in helping out towards the proposed benefit concert, message guitarist Blair Burch at this link for details! Hopefully we see Project 421 back on stage when the time is right, but family comes first, and if you want your fix in the meantime, remember that Curtis, Daniel, and Chris are also in Eclipse! Stay tuned for more when it's announced!

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

  • Remember how the Facebook event page for last night's Like A Pisces Nirvana tribute concert at The Gore Street Cafe replaced the individual performer names with the monikers "Brash Gash" & "Insoosticide"? Well, those weren't just stage names, as they were actually (one-off?) bands that played the event alongside The Pixo Control, presumably with some of the same performers that were previously listed, with a shared photo showing Brash Gash's frontman wearing an elaborate fish mask. Very intriguing, we'll have to see if these bands prove to be more than one-offs!
  • Newer local modern hard rock quartet Eclipse are the fourth publically confirmed band for next month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands (as per the Facebook event page), joining The Din, K.I.C.K., and Stereo North on the bill! Eclipse are also the first band confirmed to be playing next month's Speak Easy Battle, but can members improve on their performances in last year's battles with The Din, Haggith, and Project 421 come next month? Stay tuned for much more on both events!
  • Speaking of Haggith, the defunct local grunge/hard rock quartet revealed on their Facebook page yesterday that they're giving fans the chance to bring the band back for a reunion concert (date and venue undetermined), but only if they get 500 shares/likes on the aforementioned post by May 10th. If this campaign gets that far, the 475th person to share or like the post will win a gift package of band merchandise. It'd be nice to get full closure to their run, so visit the above links to help support the reunion campaign!
  • Local drummer John Ethier is looking to jam some "fast punk" with other local musicians. There's some early interest, but if you'd like more details, message John at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from this past Monday!
  • Local classic/hard rock quartet Mourning Wood's special evening show at Cocina Del Diablo this past Thursday (as "Jukebox") was held without guitarist Steven Flint for unannounced reasons, as per personal Facebook postings by band members. Hopefully "Jukebox" had a great show despite Steven's absence! Also, just to clarify, last night's New American Pub gig was apparently an 8:00 PM show (not 6:00 PM, but still unusually early.)
  • The original crash band (Sykotyk Rampage) have posted their newest free "album" onto their Reverbnation page! Entitled "Messa-Chords", it was released last week, is considered their 56th album (and first of six this year), and is an instrumental release with all song titles starting with the letter B and consisting of four words, with all but two having at least two words starting with B. It's up to their usual creative standards, so give it a listen at the above links!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates as this week progresses! Thanks everyone!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Rest Of This Weekend's Hard Rock Concert Previews, Including A New Video!!

Before we get into today's post, here's a note that might be of interest for Iron Maiden fans, as local artist Darren Emond will be demonstrating his art and drawing some work on-site outside of the Sears entrance of The Station Mall tomorrow, and art on display will include pages from his upcoming Iron Maiden comic book. This should be fun to check out if you're able, especially for Maiden and comic fans, so consider supporting Darren's work tomorrow if you're able, as he's a very skilled artist!

Now, let's dive into this weekend's remaining hard rock concert previews (barring anything super late notice), and we'll start in the Eastern Upper Peninsula with a look at Kinross, Michigan classic/hard rock cover trio Banned's next gigs, which go down TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT at The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino! Fresh off of their Hessel gig this past weekend, this will be Banned's first St. Ignace weekend of the new year, and the Traynors & Wayne should be in fine form as they continue their busy schedule, so consider a trip south to St. Ignace this weekend for some varied and often heavy covers! If you miss them this weekend, remember that they'll be in the Soo next weekend, and back in St. Ignace in April. 9:00 PM start times, 21+ age limits, and no announced cover charges are in effect, so check the above links for more details, and for a preview, here's a brand new Banned concert video!

Filmed by the band's friends at Third Cinema Productions, this was uploaded to Banned's YouTube channel on Valentine's Day, and it's of the guys covering Nirvana's "Come As You Are" at last week's I-500 festivities in the tent during the race's annual pub crawl! Featuring opening and closing credits (and a mid-video bug with the YouTube channel URL), this is a strong widescreen performance of this grunge classic, with Alex Traynor handling the vocals well, so give it a look below, and don't miss Banned tonight or tomorrow in St. Ignace!

Meanwhile at The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino, fellow local classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63 are advertised to return for solo headlining concerts of their own TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT! Fresh off of St. Ignace Kewadin gigs this past weekend, these shows continue their 2016 pattern of (generally) monthly gigs at the two E.U.P. Kewadin branches, and should deliver another fun weekend of wide ranging classic favourites for fans in the Soo! Now, it should be noted that the band hasn't publically plugged upcoming concerts on their Facebook page yet this month, but they have updated the page recently, so I wouldn't expect a change in plans regarding this weekend's shows unless stated otherwise. As usual for Highway 63's frequent Kewadin gigs, look for no announced cover, 21+ age limits, and 9:00 PM start times for tonight & tomorrow's concerts, so check above for more details, and here's Highway 63 live!

Finally for this weekend's previews, let's head back to Sault Ontario for the opening night of the first annual Fishbowl Festival, where local alternative/grunge trio The Pixo Control will be a part of the Like A Pisces tribute concert to Nirvana (and 1990s grunge, alternative, & new wave music) TOMORROW NIGHT at The Gore Street Cafe! The first of three hard rock/punk events taking place during this inaugural month long festival (coinciding with the Pisces stretch of the Zodiac calendar), this will be (I think) The Pixo Control's debut at the downtown cafe/laundromat, and coincides with what would have been Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's 46th birthday. What's more mysterious is the apparent headlining band Like A Pisces (referencing lyrics from "Heart Shaped Box"), who may or may not be playing collaboratively with The Pixo Control or separately, but performers were previously listed as including festival promoter/cafe co-owner Sam Decter, Honest Job's Drew Armstrong, and Lauren McClure.

Now, Sam and Drew are credited as "Insoosticide" & "Brash Gash" for unannounced reasons (possibly intended secrecy, or just creative license?), while Drew's bandmate Mister Tahti was once credited as performing with them as well. In any event, there's a lot of talent in store for this Nirvana tribute! Note as well that this event follows the opening ceremonies for the Fishbowl Festival at 5:00 PM, which will include presentations, speeches from organizers (and even the mayor!), and a mystery musical performance at 5:30 PM, though that's not considered part of the Like A Pisces show.The Fishbowl Festival itself has an eclectic lineup of local arts, culture, and awareness events largely taking place at The Gore Street Cafe through March 20th, and the ambitious roster includes everything from concerts, art exhibitions, and workshops to a film premiere, community meals, and a free market, so definitely visit the festival's Facebook event page for full details on all events scheduled for this month long activities, which offer a little something for everyone!

Admission for tomorrow's Like A Pisces concert is $10 (up from $5) unless you buy a $25 pass for all Fishbowl Festival events at the cafe beforehand, and with that, admission will be slashed to $5 tomorrow, and other events will either be discounted or free with said pass. All festival events are ALL AGES, and the concert will start at 7:00 PM, while tomorrow's opening cermonies beforehand also has free admission. For more details, visit the show's Facebook event page! The cafe and the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre have a great idea on their hands here, and hopefully this month's festival is huge, so stay tuned for much more on it, and here's The Pixo Control live last summer!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates in due course! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

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

It's now time for the results of last month's poll and the launch of our newest poll for this second post of the day, but be sure to check out the first of this weekend concert previews in the post below this one! As you may remember, last month's poll posed this question to you guys: What was your favourite local metal, hard rock, or punk album of 2015? We sadly only got 10 votes in the poll, but the results are interesting, so here's the final tally!

The Pixo Control - Probably Not (3 votes, 30%)
Other (3 votes, 30%)
Mike Haggith - The Warinside and/or it's promotional EPs (2 votes, 20%)
Destroilet, Jack Spades, and The Ripcordz - Fed Up! (1 vote, 10%)
Rotopsy's newest CD (1 vote, 10%)
Bad Back - ALbums (0 votes)
Blood Shed Productions' Rock And/Or Roll 11-Way Split (0 votes) 
Crucify The Whore & Scrotox's split CD (0 votes)
Haggith - Apocalypse II and/or XIV (0 votes)
Malignant Neoplasm's first album (0 votes)
RedD Monkey - Opus 2: Untitled (0 votes)
Any of SweetKenny's 2015 albums (0 votes)
Telephone & Address - Rust Orchid (0 votes)

What do you guys think? In ascending order, the albums with 0 votes I can generally see not finishing higher (all things considered, given the low voter turnout), but I would have most expected Haggith's final CDs to get at least one vote, as they were a prominent & accomplished band in their day! I would have predicted that the "Fed Up!" split CD would have made at least the top 2 in the poll, but at least it got some attention, while Rotopsy's 2015 album did get some support from a Blood Shed fan, and hopefully we hear more from the label next year! Mike Haggith's 2015 solo output came in third place, a solid showing for The Din frontman, and here's to much more from his projects as well! A tie for the lead came between "Other" (though I can't confirm who those 3 voters had in mind and The Pixo Control's debut CD "Probably Not", which won the poll despite being the latest new release in the field of choices. Michael and Keeghan crafted an entertaining alternative hard rock CD for their debut with great production, and I'm definitely curious to see what The Pixo Control does for an encore!

Thanks to everyone for voting! As for this month's poll, let's touch on another big topic from last year as our 2015 retrospective polls continue, so we're posing this question this month: What was the biggest local metal, hard rock, or punk news story of 2015? As you may have seen in our retrospective post on the past year at large, last year was certainly an eventful year in the local music scene, and it's always interesting to see what SMS readers found to be the biggest and most notable news events of any kind in the past year, so we have 25 choices (plus "Other") to choose from! Just as a reminder, note that this poll constitutes the "biggest" news stories of the past year, not necessarily the "best" or "happiest", which you may want to remember when you note that musician deaths and band breakups are included as options. I hope I chose a wide ranging list of news stories of different kinds from 2015, but again, you have "Other" as a choice if we missed your top story. Now, here is some extra info on your choices!

Anvil headlines at The Rockstar Bar on April Fools Day: It's always a good time when Toronto metal legends Anvil hit the Soo, which they did on April 1st for a more intimate headlining concert at The Rockstar Bar, with locals Jack Spades & Project 421 joining them for this night of "metal on metal"! Also featuring Anvil's first local show with new bassist Chris Robinson, was this the peak of 2015?

Beaumont Avenue/The Suicide Kings disband in July: After a successful three year run that saw them win the Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands and open for Randy Bachman & Airbourne, local hard rock quartet Beaumont Avenue (better known as The Suicide Kings) surprisingly announced that they were breaking up after their Rotaryfest set in July. Was this the biggest news event from last year?

The Danger Cats disband: This all-female hard rock/punk quartet sadly announced that they were parting ways in June in advance of frontwoman Kate Drew's move out of town, but they accomplished a solid amount in their year & a half together, attracting many positive notices and recording some original material! Did The Danger Cats' end top last year for big stories?

The Emergency Festival returns at Rocky DiPietro Field: The new summer concert festival from LopLops Lounge returned for it's sophomore installment in August, with local bands like Northwest opening for out of town bands like The Sunparlour Players, but the Sault Downtown Association fight forced it to be moved to Rocky DiPietro Field. Was this your #1 news story of 2015?

Garden of Bedlam return for Go Skateboarding Day: Well over a year after their last public concert, local metal quartet Garden of Bedlam played their most recent concert, and last to date, when they headlined Tidal Records' Go Skateboarding Day party at Queen Elizabeth Park. Their future is up in the air with Buzz moving, but was Garden of Bedlam's latest show the top moment of the year?

Gnaeus wins the VM Radio & Speak Easy Battles: March 2015 brought us two battles of the bands after a year+ hiatus for that type of event, but local post-punk quartet Gnaeus stole the show at each, winning the fan-voted, one night Speak Easy Battle and the four-night, judged VM Radio Battle to claim $1,400 and lots of acclaim as they continue their rise! Were the battles your #1 moments?

Gongshow summer concert series at The Rockstar Bar: From May-September, local concert promoter J.D. Pearce gave us the Gonqshow summer concert series at The Algonquin Pub, with 10 concerts going down with locals opening for out of town bands ranging from Caym to Evilheart, including a one night move upstairs for SNFU's return! Did the Gonqshow outrank other major 2015 events?

Haggith release their final albums & part ways: A tumultuous second run for Haggith culiminated last summer with their ultimate breakup after a guitarist switch and increased focus on outside bands, but they did leave fans with their final CDs "Apocalypse II" & "XIV" last spring, and most members remain active in the local scene. Was Haggith's disbandment your #1 news story last year?

Mike Case passes away after a long cancer battle: The local music scene lost a highly influential performer and instructor when Case's Music founder and veteran country musician Mike Case lost his fight with cancer in April. His memory lives on via his long musical legacy, including via all of the students he tought along the way, but was this the biggest news item of 2015 to you?

Mike Haggith releases "The Warinside": Shortly after his band Haggith ended their run, drummer Mike Haggith launched his biggest solo album yet, entitled "The Warinside" (or "The Warrenside") with a big release concert at The Rednecks Saloon in July. Mike received some big praise for the album, and he's followed it's success with his band The Din, but would you vote for it here in this poll?

Music Depot closes it's doors: A few years ago, the Twin Saults had a combined seven music stores, but the closure of Music Depot on Gore Street last year brought our total down to four. Fans of Music Depot lamented it's closure, especially after the lengthy rumours about it's status and ownership, but was it's ultimate end your #1 news story of 2015?

The Northern Vibe Festival debuts in Ophir: Two years after Hempfest headed north to Moonbeam, Planetary Pride brought a summer concert festival back to nearby Ophir, Ontario in August with The Northern Vibe Festival, trading the marijuana culture theme for an end-of summer music party. Notably featuring The Billy Bastards' return, was The Northern Vibe Festival tops for last year?

The Pixo Control release their debut CD "Probably Not": The aforementioned winners of last month's poll, local alternative hard rock trio The Pixo Control released their long-anticipated first album "Probably Not" with two CD release concerts in December, with the album rightfully getting a positive response since. Was this Tidal Records release your top news event of 2016?

P.O.D., Hoobastank, and Fuel rock Kewadin Casino: Superior Entertainment brought this massive concert to The Dreammaker's Theater in Sault Michigan on July 3rd, with platinum selling hard rockers P.O.D., Hoobastank, and Fuel joined by Lights Out Paris, Redburn, and the reunion of local metal veterans I.S.O.M.. It was a huge and successful show, but would you vote for it?

Punk rock bingo debuts at The New American Pub: In September, local concert promoters Six, Two, Oh. launched their punk rock bingo series at The New A with a night full of bingo fun and irreverent, often-punk themed prizes, with a December return featuring Shit Liver and AlgomA in concert! Though other scheduled installments were cancelled, did punk rock bingo lead last year for you?

The Ripcordz & local bands release "Fed Up!" split CD: After lengthy recording sessions and many teases, local punk/metal quintets Destroilet & Jack Spades joined forces with Montreal hardcore punk legends The Ripcordz to release their joint split CD "Fed Up!" in November featuring four originals and a cover from each band! Was this ambitious album the top news story last year from the SMS?

Rotaryfest's Second Stage returns at Clergue Park: With financial concerns wiping our Rotaryfest's all-original Stage 2 in 2014, and the Sault Downtown Association battle holding up it's Queen Street home, a revamped one-day Stage 2 returned at Clergue Park in July with an all-local lineup, including plenty of alternative & punk action. It was great to have it back, but was it last year's #1 story?

Sabrina Pelchat passes away: The local metal scene was shaken last fall when former Chronic Demonic singer and multi-talented artist Sabrina Pelchat (a.k.a. Sabrina Strange) suddenly passed away in October, with a tribute concert following for her the following month at The Rednecks Saloon. Her loss remains very sad, but would you consider this the biggest story among choices in the poll?

The Sault Downtown Association fights for survival: The summer's outdoor concert season on Queen Street was completely cancelled when some local business owners attempted to disband the Sault Downtown Association, forcing the relocation of Rotaryfest's Second Stage and The Emergency Festival. The S.D.A. survived under a new name, but did this saga top this year's other stories?

Saving Abel headline first annual Superior Festival: Despite a late relocation and date change, Superior Entertainment's first annual Superior Festival was a hit at The Savoy Bar & Nightclub in August, with Saving Abel and Lights Out Paris back from earlier Kewadin gigs along with a lineup that even included Sault Ontario bands! Was this show the top news item of the past year?

Shit Liver return home during their Canadian tour: They don't get to play here as much now that they're based out of St. Catharine's, but Shit Liver brought their goregrind sound back here in April for two gigs (including a Rednecks Saloon headliner) during their Northern Debauchery Tour of Canada, with fans enjoying the brutality! Was this the biggest news story of 2015?

SNFU headlines at The Rockstar Bar in July: The only Gonqshow event during that series' run to take place upstairs at The Algonquin Hotel, this show certainly deserved it, as Vancouver hardcore punk legends SNFU returned to the Soo for the first time in six years last July, with a strong local support lineup in tow! Did your open up your mouth and say "SNFU!" when voting in this poll?

Stereo North debuts: The winner of our poll on your favourite new local metal, hard rock, and punk bands of last year, local pop punk quartet Stereo North debuted to a big audience at Bon Soo's Marquee in February, and have continued to play notable concerts as headliners and openers since, including a run in the VM Radio Battle! Was Stereo North's debut tops for last year?

Treble Charger rocks The Machine Shop in February: Over a year after their last local concert appearance, local/Toronto punk/indie veterans Treble Charger returned home for a huge headlining show at The Machine Shop at Mill Square on Bon Soo's opening night last year, with Tidal Records support acts in tow for the occasion! It was a huge show, but were you there to vouch for it?

The Who's Tommy premieres with That's Chester: November 2015 saw Shot In The Dark Promotions host a live stage production of The Who's Tommy, with classic/hard rock veterans That's Chester as the house band for their last concerts to date, as guitarist Eugene Orlando suddenly passed away two weeks later. This was sure a high note to go out on(?), but was it your #1 story of the year?

Other: Did we miss the choice you think was the biggest metal or punk story of 2015? Maybe we missed a major concert that was a bigger deal? Perhaps you had a debuting or dissolving band in mind that's not listed above, or a lineup change in a band? Or maybe we didn't include a major news story that impacted the local scene, or perhaps you went outside our genre rrange? If your preferred choice isn't here, "Other" is for you!

VOTE TODAY!! You guys have until March 18th to cast your ballots in this poll, and hopefully there's a solid turnout of votes this month, so cast your votes A.S.A.P., and stay tuned for more weekend concert previews tomorrow! Thanks everyone!