Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: A Look Back In The Year Of Local Metal, Hard Rock, And Punk

To end this very strange year, here is our annual retrospective post on the what went down in the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene in the past 12 months! Of course, ⅘ths of it was spent in a pandemic largely devoid of concerts, so I have made necessary changes to how we usually block out our year-in-review posts, but hopefully I hit on every major relevant story in 2020! Now, let's look back at the year that was... such as it was!

Before everything changed, we were lucky enough to have 2½ months of normalcy in the local scene, with three major hard rock concerts taking place in February, including Mr. Big frontman Eric Martin & Trixter bassist P.J. Farley at The Dreammaker's Theatre at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino on the 15th, Theory of a Deadman & W3apons at The Sault Community Theatre Center the next day, and Tom Keifer, Kix, and Faster Pussycat at The Hair Scare Live at The Dreammaker's Theatre on the 22nd. Sault Michigan welcomed out of town bands like BRKN Love, Peril and Scarkazm to the area for pre-pandemic concerts, while Bon Jovi Forever returned to Sault Ontario on February 22nd themselves. Other notable early 2020 shows included The Apocalypse Afterparty joining other Soo's Got Talent finalists to kick off Bon Soo at The Machine Shop, and Handsome Sandwich & the debuting Bridge Heads helping close Room 21 on Valentine's Day, among other events.

Unfortunately, everything abruptly started changing for the worse on March 13th when the first wave of concert cancellations and postponements were announced due to the arrival of COVID-19 in North America and the beginning of it's spread, leading to the 3 month lockdown through June, social distancing measures, mask mandates, indoor capacity restrictions, and smaller lockdowns in Ontario and Michigan in the ensuing months as case counts rose. The concert calendar locally ground to a halt, costing the Soo area major March-June concerts from notable touring acts like Black Label Society, Matthew Good, Candlebox, Buckcherry, Queen: It's A Kinda Magic, Sandman, Peril, Whoop-Szo, Scarkazm, First Jason, The Anti-Queens, The Lows, Destroyer, Tripp 'N Dixie, and many others. Rescheduled dates are unclear at best, if announced at all, given the unknown climate of 2021 ahead, but we'll keep you posted!

The pandemic also cost the area virtually every annual concert festival and yearly event you can think of, and public concerts only resumed on a limited basis at some venues in the late summer, notably including Tarnished's Rock The Block event at Crooked Music in Sault Michigan in July, and the Blood Shed Productions-organized Squatfest in Heyden in August. Otherwise, the hard rock concert calendar in late 2020 was primarily the domain of weekend bar cover bands playing at the few venues willing to host bands with capacity and business-hour restrictions. Fort Creek and Soundcheck defied the pandemic with concerts at both local Reggie's taverns, while Tym Morrison hit the downtown Reggie's and the new Motley Market in recent months, and The Wyld Stallyns played a one-nighter at The Rockstar Bar in August during that venue's brief return of live concerts. With the new Ontario lockdown, things are pretty dead again, but fingers crossed for a 2021 uptick!

A number of local musicians adapted to the new normal (especially during the first lockdown) by holding live-streamed concerts on social media, with Mike Haggith's #LockdownLive series, Tym Morrison's regular slate of at-home gigs, and Tarnished's numerous acoustic duo concerts (despite ongoing audio difficulties) the most prominent for heavier genre acts. Mike and A Dire Setback also moved their CD release parties to at-home streams to give them the launch they deserved, while some annual events like Rotaryfest and The Sky's The Limit shifted to virtual editions in 2020, The Wyld Stallyns made an unadvertised appearance in The Zonta Club's Purses, Pies, and Pinot gala, and new events like SooToday's Come Together Sault Ste. Marie, Coronafest, and Northern Superior Brewing's Songs & A Six Pack gave musicians an outlet to perform at a difficult time.

News didn't stop in 2020 outside of the pandemic, and there were good and bad stories to report that had nothing to do with COVID! In January, GFL Memorial Gardens welcomed the touring Queen musical We Will Rock You, while The Rad Zone re-opened in it's new Queen Street location. Room 21 closed in February, but the Soo welcomed The Borderline to the internet radio airwaves, giving a much needed local alternative! During the first lockdown, veteran local punk musician Mikey Hawdon launched his series of daily quarantunes on his uke(lele), which grew to much bigger and better things in recent months! Also this year: Shaun Antler kicked off her local musician archival project, Long & McQuade moved into it's big new location on MacDonald Avenue, Reggie's Place re-opened under new ownership, Tarnished got airplay on 9&10 News' The Four, The Inner City Surfers released their new single...

...frontman Dustin Jones' main band The Rising Tide (and Tarnished) released their own new music videos, Gary Croad replaced Tommy Korcal on drums with Tarnished, and Shit Liver released their long-gestating 2016 Canadian tour documentary. This was a difficult year, but thankfully, it was still a newsworthy one for unrelated reasons!

If being locked down at home did one thing for local musicians, it encouraged them to write and record in studio, and we got a surprising number of local metal, hard rock, and punk albums this year! The aforementioned Mike Haggith ("If Ever Comes The Day") and A Dire Setback (their self-titled album) got their new discs launched via virtual release concerts during the lockdown, while Sault Michigan's Tarnished put out their own EP "Down To The Wire" in July, not long after their Rock The Block concert. Blood Shed mainstays Crucify The Whore released "P.C. Sells... But I Ain't Buyin'!" and their second "A Couple Of Degenerate Bastards" split with Chase Wigmore this year, while Chris Raginskis' debuting 9 Times Dark project released "Vicissitude" in August. 2020 ended with a bang with two long awaited album releases, namely The Bear Hunters' "The Dead Testament" last month and As It Stands posthumous EP "The Lost Tapes" two weeks ago. Here's to even more high profile new albums in 2021!

Given that most bands couldn't play concerts as normal in 2020, the lack of debuting bands was understandable, though we did see the public concert debuts of The Bridge Heads and Fort Creek this year, while The Isolation Sessions leaned into social distancing in their early branding and videos. It would be unfair to call out bands for being inactive in 2020 for obvious reasons, but there were a few notable bands to publically throw in the towel, like Sault Michigan classic rock mainstays Highway 63 this summer, while both X's & Y's and Sault Ontario's Parabol saw their Facebook pages quietly deleted with no public notice then or since. As well, a handful of groups have not been heard from since the second half of 2019, like Treble Charger, AlgomA, Rotopsy, Pillory, Telephone & Address, The Guitar Gangsters, and Coral Fang, who were all moved to our inactive band links this year. Hopefully 2021 is a better one for band activity!

As always, we'll end things with comebacks and returns to activity from prominent bands, and while few had the opportunity to play a concert as part of their resurgences, some familiar faces still made their presences known again in 2020! Acts like Ashoka At The Show, Black Cloud, Foothill Road, Mike Cliffe, Mike McCleary, The Shaner, and SweetKenny all came back to activity this year with new studio material or live performance videos,hopefully presaging more to come in the new year! Also, Ottawa's Bad Chug reunited and relocated to Sault Ontario with a Buckcherry opening slot still waiting in the wings, That's Chester posted a new Pink Floyd cover to honour late bandmate Eugene Orlando, Skeyes of Seven resurfaced to compete in a Corus Radio song contest, ex-No Arrow drummer Joe Falco resurfaced with solo videos on Youtube, and Destroilet came back to sell new t-shirts. Here's to more from them & others in the new year!

2020 was not a great year, but there was enough good in it where you can't completely write it off. That said, 2021 has to be a better year for the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene, how can it be worse? I'll be forgoing our usual "new year forecast" post tomorrow because, frankly, no one knows what 2021 has in store, let alone when we'll have some semblance of a normal concert calendar again, so why waste time when everything could be wrong? In any event, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and we'll see you back with next month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post on Saturday, with more news to follow when available! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Another Local Metal/Punk Video Showcase!!

For our final news post of 2020, we're looking at some recent video uploads from a bunch of familiar faces from the local scene, including a few more belated Christmas-themed performances, and we'll start with a new old video from Sault Michigan classical metal quintet Theatre of Night in concert! Of course, their fourth annual Christmas concert tour did not take place in 2020 for painfully obvious reasons, but in a presumed Christmas Eve olive branch for fans on their YouTube channel, they did post a new-to-us video of them playing their set-opener "What Child Is This?" during the tour finale at The Park Theatre in Holland (40 minutes west of Grand Rapids) last year! If you want to see the whole concert from this night, click here, but this is from a separate camera that's closer to the stage. This is a very proficient and grand rendition from Theatre of Night that should help put you in the Christmas spirit, even 4 days late, so give it a watch below!

Next up, let's head north to Sault Ontario for new videos from three familiar punk musicians, starting with Northwest guitarist Greg Callaghan, who was the special musical guest on a performance video uploaded by the Toronto-based podcast series Backyard Variety Tour's YouTube channel on Christmas Eve. Sadly, Greg couldn't host his usual Christmas Open Mic event at Coch's Corner this year (we all know why), but maybe this will help make up some of the difference! Introduced by podcast host Ian Pozz, Greg plays an 18 minute set of four Christmas deep cuts here, so if you don't want to hear the same old carols, this should do the trick. In order, Greg covers Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis", John Prine's "Christmas In Prison", Gordon Lightfoot's "Song For A Winter's Night", and to fill out the punk quota, The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York" with his girlfriend Amanda Kemp joining in on vocals.

Greg offers some context about the first three songs in between, and I do like that he didn't do the same old carols here, even if some are decidedly darker than you'd expect! The close camera angle from a low angle is a little odd, and the audio quality on this camera isn't amazing, but Greg sings and plays capably on these covers, and he and Amanda harmonize well! Give it a look below, and here's hoping for a better year for Northwest & Greg ahead!

Also, here's a new video of former Brain Tuel guitarist Zach Reid playing an instrumental cover of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song", via an arrangement by Bruce French, as uploaded to his YouTube channel last week. Soft and intricate performance from a tight camera angle, this should put readers in a belated Christmas spirit, so give it a watch below!

Finally, let's close things on a non-seasonal note via a new song from Inner City Surfers bassist Brad Example's YouTube channel! While Brad's solo material has largely been of an acoustic folk rock bent, this song does feature his long-time Surfers/Role Models bandmate Dave Bahun, and this does share some thematic similarities with softer Surfers songs. Entitled "Girl Next Door" and set to footage of a shadowbox theater with lyric track, this song works well pairing Brad's raspy vocals and Dave's strong melodic guitar licks, so fans will want to give it a listen below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our 2020 year-in-review post by Thursday! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

COVID-19 Updates & Concert Cancellations, Plus A New Christmas Carol Cover!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and Boxing Day! We're back as we begin the dash towards the end of 2020, and given that most of this post is devoted to obvious recent news that goes beyond music,  I am projecting that we will have at least one more news post after this, likely on Tuesday, with our year-end retrospective post now pencilled in for New Year's Eve. With that said, here's what you should know regarding a certain major news story in Ontario, with a belated Christmas bonus at the end!

As is likely common knowledge by now for most readers, the province of Ontario entered a new lockdown yesterday due to rapidly increasing COVID-19 infection rates. The lockdown is projected to last for two weeks in Sault Ste. Marie and the rest of Northern Ontario, running through January 8th, while Southern Ontario will be under this order for four weeks, though these are subject to change pending how case totals look over the lockdown timeframe. Click here or visit your preferred local/provincial news sources for details, but the resulting closures and capacity restrictions will be very familiar from the lockdown we endured in Ontario from March-June. This news will not be welcomed by some, especially given that Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District are in code green, and have done a much better job at keeping case counts low than much of the province.

As of this writing, there have been 65 coronavirus cases reported here, and all but 3 are now resolved (source here), but of course, we want to keep the numbers low in the area and discourage travel to & from Southern Ontario for the time being. I know this can be frustrating, but at least this is only 2 weeks (we hope), and luckily, this didn't go into effect until after Christmas. Stay home, stay safe, stay vigilant, wear a mask, and use common sense! With all of that said, this news does affect what little of a concert calendar we had in the Soo. Specifically, this will cancel the Fort Creek-headlined New Year's Eve concert at Reggie's Place next week, though the guys are taking this in stride, and have teased on Facebook that they'll be spending the lockdown recording. We'll keep you posted on that! Also, Tym Morrison crammed in one more late notice gig at the same venue this past Wednesday before the holiday break & lockdown went into effect.

I profusely apologize for not covering that concert on the site proper, as it was announced on too late of notice (and with too few stories for us to fill out a post with) to plug it on the site, but it was covered on our Facebook page, and hopefully Tym put on a great show for downtown Reggie's patrons on Wednesday! Lastly, this isn't related to the Ontario lockdowns, but I have removed the previously announced Scarkazm concert at The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino on New Year's Eve from our concert calendar. That date was announced well before COVID was an immediate concern, and while Scarkazm have been playing limited live dates in recent months, the casino has yet to resume booking regular live acts at their on-site lounges. As such, there are no concerts whatsoever listed in our Sault Michigan concert calendar at present, but when we hear of a publically attendable hard rock/metal event there, we'll let you know!

We'll close today with a new video from local hard rock band Tarnished, specifically their cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run"! This was posted onto their Facebook page on Christmas Eve, and it is their "2020 holiday special", with everyone's parts filmed remotely (I can't confirm if this is due to convenience or social distancing) and combined afterwards in post production, with mixing & mastering by Ryan Nicklas. Despite everyone being apart for filming, drummer Gary Croad was still unable to appear, so the band gave a "shout out to Santa for letting us "borrow" one of his elves to fill in" for Gary in this video. The elf bears a striking resemblance to frontman Alex Traynor, does he not? This cover won't be new to anyone who saw Alex & Nathan cover it on Eagle 95.1 earlier this month, but of course, this is electric, has a full-ish band, and has lots of Christmasy accoutrements.

I will be honest, I'm not a fan of "Run Rudolph Run" (primarily for the somewhat illogical lyrics), but Tarnished turn in a fun and proficient version of this rock & roll carol, and it's well mixed and edited, so if you want the belated Christmas spirit, this may just provide it! Give it a watch below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our last news post of 2020 on Tuesday, if all goes according to plan! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

YouTube Channel Profile Series: Marco Pedalino & Soufiane El

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve! Before I hunker down to enjoy Christmas proper and Boxing Day, we have this month's YouTube Channel profiles a little early, with our likely final news post of 2020 pencilled in for Sunday. This monthly feature post looks at 1-3 YouTube channels whose content is at least half devoted to local metal, hard rock, or punk artists/concerts, as randomly selected from our YouTube subscriptions. To end the year with, we randomly picked a channel from a familiar face (but only two distinct relevant video types) and one with a single relevant upload to fill things out with, so here's what you should know!


Marco Pedalino (

Owner: Former Lion Ride guitarist Marco Pedalino, also known from his work in bands like Barfly, Bondar, Brad Example & The Role Models, The Cover-Up, Downfall, Lorrie Lynn & The Sinners, and The Wing-Its

Channel Timeline: Launched on November 28th, 2011; Videos uploaded from March 2013 until August 2016

Channel Summary: A personal use channel, Marco uploaded three videos there from his brief local punk band The Wing-Its, two concert videos (one in the Soo, and one of Guns N' Roses live in Toronto in 2016), and three sub-15 second videos of a personal nature, though one is of his daughter drumming.
Why You Should Watch: Primarily, this channel will interest anyone who wants to see The Wing-Its or reminisce on the local Airbourne concert or that Guns N' Roses show! They are especially noteworthy given the short length of everything else, and the lack of footage from Marco's other bands.

 Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:
AIRBOURNE - Sault Ste Marie, ON. Aug 19,2013: Marco's most popular & only local concert video saw him film Australian hard rock quartet Airbourne's headlining concert at The Canadian Nightclub in August 2013, specifically their set-opening song "Ready To Rock". In the description, Marco noted that this was the "loudest show I've ever been to", but that doesn't come through with the very scratchy audio, not to mention his relative unzoomed distance from the stage. Still fun to see this very big concert again after all these years, and the crowd was very receptive to their AC/DC-inspired attack!

wing its tune 3: Three of Marco's videos are of his 2013-2014 power pop/punk band The Wing-Its, who never had an online page, and only played two public concerts, but were signed to frontman Dustin Jones' own label Tidal Records. Joined by former Spigots frontman Trevor Harding on bass and drummer/filmmaker Dan Nystedt, Marco's three uploads are all oddly upside down, and I had no luck discerning lyrics to be able to identify these songs (if they're even covers.) That said, these are lively punk performances that seemed to call Dustin & Marco's later work with The Cover-Up to mind! Watch the other two Wing-Its videos at links here & here.


Soufiane El (

Owner: YouTube user Soufiane El, who I don't believe is locally based.

Channel Timeline: Launched on September 18th, 2014; Only video uploaded that same day

Channel Summary: Soufiane's only upload is a lyric video for local doom/black metal group Woods of Ypres' 2012 song "Adora Vivos", complete with karaoke-style lyric tracks and a slow zooming background of the "Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light" cover artwork. This was sadly made using a paid video program's free demo mode, but this steadily paced doom metal original holds up well, and remains a highlight on "Woods V"! Of course, the rest of the album is readily available, with and without lyrics, elsewhere on YouTube, if you want a fuller experience.


I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profiles! To kick off 2021 in this series, our random selection has given us YouTube user wayek, featuring lots of footage from local singer/guitarist Dann Pichette's old bands No Arrow & SBD! Watch for that on or around January 26th, and for a new news post on Sunday! Thanks everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Local Metal/Punk Video Showcase!!

News remains glacially slow around the SMS, but I've cobbled together a video-centric post for you guys to check out on this Monday evening, including a solo cover, a new studio track, a podcast with some familiar faces, and leading off, a prominent solo artist's recent hosting gig on local TV!

Have you been wondering what local/Thompson, Manitoba alt-hard rock musician Mike Haggith has been up to as of late? This won't entirely answer that, but Mike recently hosted Thompson's virtual community Christmas concert, which aired on their Shaw Spotlight affiliate yesterday! As teased via this TV commercial and this teaser video on his Facebook page, the full concert was indeed streamed online via the Shaw Community Link YouTube channel, and Mike's hosting segments are often full of bad one liners, to the point that he jokingly walks out between acts to complain about their quality! In other words, if you liked his #LockdownLive concerts, you'll be right at home in this regard! I do like that the Shaw Spotlight staff there let Mike joke around and inject some personality as host, you don't always get that!

Much like virtual concerts we've seen in the Soo this year, there is a wide array of performers from Thompson and area in this video, so local interest here may be limited unless you want to discover unknown talent. However, Mike does perform near the end of the concert (66 minutes or so in), specifically a cover of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas", while the concert proper closes with Mike playing a version of "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" that goes off into a tangent about the weather in Thompson and social distancing. Looks like everything was well handled under the circumstances, so give Thompson's virtual community concert a watch below!

Next up, here's the first full song from St. Ignace, Michigan progressive metal quintet Heavy Lies The Crown's upcoming full length album! Entitled "Every Step Of The Way", this was uploaded to their YouTube channel yesterday, and it is also available on Spotify, while H.L.T.C. have teased more singles to come in advance of the release, schedule to be determined. I'll hold full comments on the song for now, pending our presumed review of the album in 2021, but give "Every Step Of The Way" a listen below!

Also, here's a bit of a surprise from Sault Ontario: a podcast from Redundant drummer Rick White's YouTube channel two weeks ago, where he interviewed his bandmates (with input by friends of the band) using funny job interview questions that he found online. This is over an hour long, so it'll be a time commitment to check out, but it's a funny and clearly unscripted listen that Redundant fans should get a kick out of, especially during this screwy time we're in right now! I wish Rick would have edited out the background hiss with Audacity or something, but give it a listen below!

Finally, veteran local hard rock/jam guitarist Mike Cliffe has posted another Christmas carol cover on his YouTube channel, this time featuring him playing "What Child Is This?" in two different acoustic tracks combined in post production. A lot of wasted space in the video proper as a result, but Mike handles this carol well in a soft & intricate way, so give it a watch below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new post of some kind by Christmas Eve! Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2020

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tym Morrison), As It Stands' New EP, And Much More!!

We're back with a new post on this Friday night, including new videos, details on a new EP release, and leading off, a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for this weekend! Here's what you should know!

Local acoustic hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will play a special matinee concert THIS SUNDAY at Reggie's Place on Queen Street East! Apologies for the short notice, Tym announced this gig via it's official Facebook event page on Saturday, and given our slow news pace as of late, I held it for a post closer to showtime. This is the booking that was postponed from this past Sunday for publically unannounced reasons (perhaps just a date mix-up?), and it marks his first public concert since the abrupt cancellation of his Motley Market arrangement in the fall, as well as his first scheduled booking at the original downtown Reggie's in memory. Of course, Tym does have country covers in his extensive playlist, but he does not primarily play that genre, so will this be a reasonably tailored matinee, or is this another sign that the new Reggie's ownership aren't as country-centric as before? Find out on SUNDAY!

This booking is in Reggie's regular SUNDAY matinee timeslot of 3:00 PM, which will be old hat for regulars, but is relatively new for us. In any event, expect this to have a 19+ age limit, no cover charge, and the usual social distancing/mask requirements that venues hosting live music must abide by at present. Visit the above links for more details, and for a preview, Tym has two new original songs posted on his YouTube channel to check out! The first one was posted on Saturday, and it is entitled "Jesus Everywhere", which will be a massive hint to the lyrical content. The video proper has a slideshow with lyrics, and the song is a softer, mellower number that is well composed with good harmonics in the vocals. That said, if you want something heavy, his brand new instrumental "The Holy War" will be up your alley!

Thematically about the battle between good & evil, this is a solid and suitably dramatic piece of power metal that fans of his old original band work will be right at home with, though I somehow doubt we'll see an acoustic cover of it at Reggie's on SUNDAY. Cool stuff, especially with fantasy-laden slideshow to match, so give it a listen below, and see much more above!

Next up, it's official: As It Stands' long, long awaited third EP "The Lost Tapes" is now on sale! As promised, it dropped at midnight today on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music, and you can also buy it for $1.99 on Amazon. The release 100% confirms that this includes songs from the defunct local hardcore quintet's Metalworks Studio sessions with producer Kevin Dietz in June 2011, and from no others, so I was largely right on my prediction from Tuesday's post! However, the EP only features four of the songs recorded there 9½ years ago, omitting their studio cover of Blink-182's "Stay Together For The Kids", presumably over copyright concerns. Why not re-post it on Soundcloud to stream, at least? For the record, they haven't confirmed if Relentless Audio did indeed provide the final mix, at least not on Facebook. This has been a long wait for As It Stands to finally put this out, especially given that this is their first paid EP release since 2007! 

It is very encouraging to see them finally right a wrong from their well received second active period, and while it would be nice to have seen them include the songs recorded in their 2010 studio sessions, or even digitally release their first two discs, just be glad that we got these "Lost Tapes" at all! Baby steps! Will this be our first CD review on the SMS in 2021? I don't see why not, so stay tuned for that in the new year, and buy or stream As It Stands' new EP (at long last) at the above links!

Finally for today, here's a couple of new videos from Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished's Facebook page! While not plugged there in advance, the guys (minus Gary) returned as guests on local classic hits radio station Eagle 95.1 FM's morning show with host/station owner Tim Ellis a few days ago. Apologies for not plugging that on here, I would have had Tarnished mentioned it beforehand! The band uploaded two videos on Facebook on Wednesday, including one of frontman Alex Traynor and bassist Josh Fair playing an acoustic rendition of their own "Metalyn", and as embedded below, one of Alex and guitarist Nathan Webber covering Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph". Normally, I'd embed the original over a cover, but it's the Christmas season! The guys handle these acoustic versions well, so give them a look above & below, and stay tuned for more from Tarnished!

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

As It Stands & Tarnished Updates, Plus New Videos!!

We're back with more news on this Tuesday evening, including a few new videos from both sides of the border, and leading off, here's some big updates on what a fondly remembered local band has been up to as of late!

Defunct(?) local hardcore quintet As It Stands have elaborated on their teasers regarding "The Lost Tapes" via their Facebook page, so what is going on in their camp? Well, "The Lost Tapes" is indeed an EP that they recorded 10 years ago but never released, and it will officially be released on FRIDAY at midnight! No word on physical copies, but you will be able to stream and/or download "The Lost Tapes" via Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, and Google Play. You can hear glimmers of the studio output in the teaser videos they've posted (embedded below is their newest one from Thursday.) As best as I can gather, the EP they are referring to was recorded at Metalworks Studio in Mississauga with producer Kevin Dietz in June 2011, and those five songs ("A Sinking Sinner", "Embay the Terrible", "Oh Herm, Herm Delish", their cover of Blink-182's "Stay Together For the Kids", and "One Less Than Wayne Gretzky") were previously uploaded in unmixed form on Soundcloud, only to be pulled from there presumably recently.

In fact, early A.I.S. guitarist Ryan McLaughlin's production company Relentless Audio plugged "The Lost Tapes" on their Facebook page, so is that a hint that he mixed his old band's EP? Time will tell! Unless there is a bigger surprise in store, I don't believe "The Lost Tapes" will include the also-unreleased songs recorded locally at Stereo Soul Studios in mid-2010 ("Rise Above" & "One Last Chance") or in Stoney Creek later that year ("Conception" & "Big Problem, Little Lock City"). We'll have more on As It Stands' long awaited EP later this week, so stay tuned for more details, and watch the newest teaser clip below!

Next up, let's continue getting caught up on Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished's prolific string of video uploads on their Facebook page as of late! Many of them into early December related to their now-concluded merchandise giveaways and the winner announcements (with or without the fox mask), so you can check those out at your leisure on their Facebook page to see who won what and when! On December 5th, the guys shared a TikTok video of them (minus Gary) acoustically covering The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California", and it's well done while it lasts, though the tight vertical camera angle isn't ideal. Also, did you know that the fox masked-character is named Puzzle Piece? He tells us so in this TikTok shoutout clip, whicb leaves us with more questions than answers! On Sunday, they shared a comedy sketch called "Never "Saw" It Coming", where Puzzle Piece plays a Saw-style torture game with Josh and Nathan.

Amusing, especially if you're familiar with the Saw movies and the options Josh is given! Lastly, following it's own gradual Facebook teasers (like this western-style one from last week, Tarnished unveiled the long-awaited music video for their original song "Metalyn" on Facebook and their YouTube channel yesterday, so what should you know about it? Filmed by Jay London Photography, the video features Tarnished performing on a roof-top in Sault Ste. Marie (with the International Bridge behind them), intercut with scenes of actress Malia Lefebre finding a cassette Walkman on the ground and getting her groove on to (presumably) this very song, before ultimately finding Alex's guitar at the end. Well edited and shot, this is a good first video from this fast rising band, and it straddles the line between hard rock and mainstream accessibility well! Give it a watch below, and see much more above!

We'll close with something festive for the holidays, namely this video of Sault Ontario progressive/hard rock solo artist Mike Cliffe covering the Christmas carol "We Three Kings"! Posted to his YouTube channel on Thursday in his first upload there in ten months, this is a relatively simple but effective guitar rendition with a nice and intricate ending, so give it a watch below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post on Friday, barring sudden and unforeseen news that has to come sooner! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

A New Music Video, Updates From A New Studio, And Much More!!

(Updated at 8:53 PM) I have a new news post for you guys to check out on this Saturday morning, including some big updates from a fast rising local recording studio, a slideshow from a familiar band, and leading off, a new music video from a long awaited local album. Here's what you should know! (This post originally plugged an advertised Sunday matinee from Tym Morrison tomorrow at Reggie's Place, but that concert was postponed earlier today. Stay tuned for news on the rescheduling!)

Here's the newest single and music video from local Celtic punk quintet Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide's still-forthcoming new album! Abruptly teased on their Facebook page on Monday in their first post there in almost 9 months, the video premiered on label Tidal Records' YouTube channel the next day, and it's for their new song "No Control". Uniquely, the video is entirely seen on an old school CRT TV, complete with visual quality mimicking how it may have looked on that equipment. The video proper is a slightly slow motion clip of the entire band walking outside in the woods, and it fits the song well enough, though the audio doesn't seem to be synched 100% with the video (Dustin's singing is an easy way to tell.) I'll hold comments on the song proper for now, pending our presumed review of their new CD, but give the video a watch below!

Next up, here's some topics related to a new-ish local recording studio that recently launched, namely Relentless Audio! You may have seen discussion about this studio on social media in recent months, but this studio has actually existed since April 2018, so what should you know about them? Relentless Audio is headed by veteran local punk musician Ryan McLaughlin, who you may recognize from the emo-era As It Stands and Fist Fighting Stephen Hawking, among other projects. Ryan has recorded a number of audio demos through there, though visibly more to showcase his production, and much of his pre-2020 work was with acts not from the Soo, but he definitely has talent in mixing and producing regardless of artist locale! Ryan was writing under the band name Great West Falls last year, complete with guest vocals from the Nevada-based David Valles, but only their single "Better Than This" is still up (the other went down with their old Soundcloud page.)

If Great West Falls are still active and launch a social media/band page, they would easily fit our coverage, solid upbeat hard rock sound there! After months of sporadic updates, Relentless Audio resurfaced in July to announce that they were working on material with local musician Christopher Raginskis, later revealed to be under the project name 9 Times Dark, and their debut EP, entitled "Vicissitude", came out on August 26th! This completely flew under the radar (9 Times Dark's only online presence is via postings of the album), but click here for relevant links to every major online service hosting the EP. Musically speaking, 9 Times Dark are a punk act with a bit of a dark edge, and if they had a proper band page, I'd absolutely add them to our band links too! As such, this album is absolutely in the cards for an early 2021 review on the SMS, and it's great to see Chris finally get a band going after all these years! Give the opening song a listen below!

There is one more big local album project that Ryan is working on with some old friends of his, but we'll keep that for an upcoming post. In any event, Relentless Audio are now linked on the SMS, and hopefully Ryan keeps up the great work! We'll close today with a new slideshow video all about local punk trio Redundant! Drummer Rick White posted this to his YouTube channel on Wednesday, and it features photos of him, Justin, and Andrew on stage and having fun on & off stage, including some familiar local and out-of-town faces along the way, as set to "All By Myself" from their 2018 debut EP. Despite playing on the studio recording, former bassist James White is only sparingly featured here. Fun trip down memory lane even still, so give it a watch below, and stay tuned for more news and notes on the site next week! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: Alex Traynor

It's now time for this month's Defunct Local Band Profile, our monthly spotlight feature on one or two local metal, hard rock, or punk acts, in order to give them some deserved press for current readers, and as usual, bands are randomly selected! We're ending 2020 in the Sault Michigan area for a profile oin a talented musician that is still very much active, just in a band rather than solo nowadays. Here's what you should know!

Alex Traynor

Genre: Hard/Alternative Rock
Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie/Kinross/Mount Pleasant, Michigan


Alex Traynor (Tarnished, Banned), all instruments

Audio/Video: Alex has released one studio album, namely his EP "Crazy World", which came out on CD and for digital download in March of last year, after being recorded in Mount Pleasant in the fall of 2018. Though this is his only studio output to date as a solo musician, he did write similar original material with his main local groups Banned and Tarnished, releasing an EP with the latter named "Down To The Wire" earlier this summer. Select videos of his solo concerts and in-studio covers can be found on Alex's Facebook page as well, as well as three music videos. Here is the official music video for his EP's title track!

Info/Analysis: A steady young presence on the Eastern Upper Peninsula cover band circuit with his 2011-2019 classic/hard rock group Banned, Alex launched his own solo project in the spring of 2017. Much of his early updates were Banned-related aside from a few studio cover videos, appearances on 1230 WSOO, and an early demo of "Crazy World", before he moved to Mount Pleasant that fall. In the summer of 2018, Alex began a run of solo acoustic concerts both in Mount Pleasant and at The Signatures Lounge at the Soo's Kewadin Casino branch. After the recording cycle and release of his EP, and a couple of Friday Sessions appearances on The Four on 9&10 News in the spring of 2019, Alex kicked off his pre-pandemic run of regular matinee gigs at Biggby Coffee. His last advertised solo concert was in Mount Pleasant in June 2019, after which he moved back to the Soo, dissolved Banned, and launched his current hard rock band Tarnished.

Alex's solo output has taken a backseat in favour of Tarnished, though that band took over the Biggby arrangement, while also playing songs from "Crazy World" in their setlists. In that sense, Alex is still very active as an original musician, and Tarnished don't stray far in sound either, but Alex's solo EP was a good harbinger of what was to come from him in a full band, with his melodic voice, strong guitar skills, and ambition present on all 5 songs! Follow Tarnished to see what Alex is up to musically nowadays!


I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profile! This series will head back to Sault Ontario to kick off 2021, as our next randomly selected band will be inactive 2010s outsider punk/folk project Telephone & Address! Look for that on or around January 10th, and for a new news post by Sunday! Thanks everyone!