Monday, December 11, 2017

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: Oceania & Nathan Switzer

Here's this month's Defunct Local Band Profiles, our monthly spotlight of one or two inactive or defunct local metal, hard rock, or punk bands, in order to showcase and feature them and their accomplishments for current readers! Our final 2017 installment is on two bands for the first time since March due to the first randomly chosen band not having enough surviving material so sustain a solo profile, so one more was added to fill things out. There's some familiar faces in this month's bands, so here's what you should know!
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Oceania

Genre: Punk

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Members:

Lawrence "LaR Noxous" Davies (Black Like My Heart), vocals/guitar
Nick "Dilbert" DiLabio, bass
Chris Rancourt (Slow Motion Theater), drums

Info/Analysis: Succeeding LaR and Chris' old band Slow Motion Theater, Oceania were active briefly from 2004-2005 as a jokingly-formed Green Day tribute band, though they would add original material to their set shortly after. The band played live a few times in 2005, primarily at The Oddfellows Hall (opening for Take One For The Team that July), but few surviving updates followed, aside from LaR's reposting of Oceania's acoustic song "Picture, No Sound" on his YouTube channel in the 2013 (plus a posthumous full band cover), while Chris would later find notability as the head of Laris Records and Northern Rocks Magazine. I can't judge Oceania themselves based on surviving media (especially with their PureVolume page's songs still not working), but if the acoustic song below is any indication, they had an accessible punk sound, and LaR's performance is solid, if still a little reserved vocally! Check out more of his later solo music above, and hopefully some more Oceania material turns up at some point!


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Nathan Switzer

Genre: Progressive Metal/Techno

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Members:

Nathan Switzer (Highway 63), all instruments

Info/Analysis: Active only briefly in late 2010 and early 2011, this solo project was the mastermind of former Analog Deficiency & Traces guitarist Nathan Switzer, prior to him joining his father Henry's classic/hard rock cover groups Monkey's Uncle & Highway 63. Nathan was aiming to self-record and release an EP called "Life" in 2011, but no updates followed there, and assorted demo recordings posted to his Soundcloud page through 2013 did not receive any public follow-up elsewhere tying them to his 2010 work. His only current song posted before 2011 ("The Beginning", embedded below) has an aggressive and proficient sound with solid production, as did the now-deleted "The End", while his later postings ranged from brutal metal (as in his "new guitar tone test") to some techno originals that show some good variety, including on the comedic "I'm Cool Too" featuring Half Stupid alum Matt Williams. Nathan's a very talented guitarist, and it's be interesting to see him resurrect his original material at some point in the future!


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I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profiles! Next month (and year), we'll kick off 2018 with a randomly selected Sault Ontario band to commence another 2-1-3-1-2-1 cycle between the Twin Saults, and the band in question will be defunct local death metal quartet Crimson Crusade! Watch for that on or around January 10th, and stay tuned for more news and notes this week! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tym Morrison), A New Video, And Much More!!

After a quiet weekend out of town, we have a new news post for your Sunday evening, so what's within this one? Lots of assorted short stories from the last week or so, but we also have a new video featuring a guitar review, and leading off, SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for the next few days!

Prolific local acoustic hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to Mark's Breakfast Plus for three more matinee concert sets TOMORROW, TUESDAY, and WEDNESDAY! Apologies for the short notice, these shows were only announced via their official Facebook event page earlier today. Tym will hit there for the first time in about a month, keeping with his usual trend of playing Mark's for early week matinees that don't conflict with his similarly timed Gliss shows from Thursdays-Saturdays. As a result, we are approaching the mid-point of a nine show run in just ten nights, and if you're up for some unplugged hard rock favourites in the west end, be at Mark's TOMORROW, TUESDAY, or WEDNESDAY! As usual for Tym's matinee gigs at either restaurant, expect 6:00 PM start times over the next three evenings, and there are no cover charges or age limits, but mind the locale. See above for more details, and here's Tym live!



Next up, here's a new video from prolific local rock guitarist and Audiofumes podcast host Mike Cliffe's YouTube channel on December 2nd, featuring his review of a unique guitar! The instrument in question is the Seagull Merlin 4, a dulcimer-inspired acoustic guitarwith only four strings. Very folksy, bluegrass-reminscent sound, but it's an intriguing guitar that might be worth a look for guitarists and fans of Mike's music alike, and you can do so below!



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

  • I have deleted local music promotion/photography company For The Music Inside from our "Other Local Metal Links" due to it's Facebook (and only surviving online) page being taken down at some point in the past 6 months.  Though most of their latter content was from Southern Ontario events, I liked what Joseph and Sean were doing to promote local shows and get great photos therein, and hopefully F.T.M.I. is revived down the road!
  • In his first Facebook page posting in over a month, local hard rock solo musician Mike McCleary shared a new acoustic cover of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" from his Soundcloud page this past Tuesday! This version is a slower re-arrangement that has some intriguing compromises for it's style, with Mike also confirming that unspecified health issues were to blame for his November break, but new originals and his debut EP are still forthcoming!
  • In another deletion from our "Other Local Metal Links", we have also removed inactive local label/recording studio Paperclip Productions due to it's Facebook (and only online) page's deletion in recent months as well. Best known as the independent label and studio for the band Haggith and their side projects in the early-mid 2010s, it is unfortunate to see their last online page taken down, but you can hear much of their output via band pages!
  • In one final deletion from that same section, we have also removed what we labelled as "Sault Ste. Marie Concert Archive", which was a results listing of local concerts via Canadian news/entertainment site Canoe prior to their major design overhaul earlier this year, with the concert listing search no longer functioning to my knowledge. It was a great resource, especially when sourcing when certain notable touring bands played here in the pre-Facebook era, and hopefully Canoe restores it in some form!
  • Just a belated acknowledgement from our coverage of Sault Michigan-area label Werehold Records' final Friday the 13th music event in October, as cross-Michigan metal project Shatterhand (featuring Werehold founder Jason Mills) have resurfaced via their own YouTube channel! Only one song is there so far ("Faulty", complete with vocals), but whether channel exclusivity, lack of vocals, or another factor are to blame for their removal from Werehold's channel is up for debate. Shatterhand aren't a true local band, but I wanted to acknowledge the missing songs here!
  • The planned third installment of J.D. Pearce's seasonal acoustic punk revue X-Mess on December 23rd was cancelled late last month. While the show hadn't publically had a venue confirmed for it, he noted on the Facebook event page that it was primarily cancelled due to "a charity gig" taking place "super close" to it. J.D is likely referring to the second Guy Thiffault tribute concert on December 27th, which he and scheduled performer Lucas Schmiedendorf are both playing with Jack Spades and The HTs respectively. Disappointing on one hand, but the memorial show will be a blast once again, so see above for details on it!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for this month's Defunct Local Band Profile on the site next, likely tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Banned), Tym Morrison Concert Previews, And More Updates!!

On this snowy Thursday, here's our weekend concert previews, as slight as they are this time around, but things will pick up as we approach the Christmas season! Today, we have some assorted recent news and notes, big updates regarding an upcoming holiday show, but we'll start with previews, including SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS!

Kinross, Michigan classic/hard rock trio Banned will return to The Sportsman's Lounge at Dondee Lanes for shows TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice,  this show was only announced via it's official Facebook event pages (linked here & here) on Monday and yesterday. Over two weeks removed from their last Dondee show just prior to Thanksgiving, TOMORROW & SATURDAY'S shows will bring Banned back to the local bowling alley for a more typical scheduled weekend of shows, and with lots of hard rocking and more general covers in their repertoire, they should provide a good time once again this weekend! As of right now, these are Banned's last publically scheduled gigs of 2017, but I'd be surprised if we don't see them again before the year's out. TOMORROW & SATURDAY'S concerts have early 8:00 PM start times, 21+ age limits, and no announced cover charges. See above for more details, and here's Banned live!



Next up, here's this weekend's only other announced hard rock concerts in our area, as Sault Ontario acoustic hard rock solo artist Tym Morrison will continue his long-term run at Gliss Steak & Seafood with matinee concerts TONIGHT, TOMORROW, and SATURDAY! As Tym enters the holiday season, his ongoing arrangement with The Quality Inn's house restaurant continues to provide hard rocking songs in an unplugged setting for fans and patrons alike, and this weekend's shows should be no different, so consider an early evening of familiar rocking hits over these next three days! As usual for Tym's lengthy run of Gliss gigs, expect 6:00 PM start times, no announced cover charges, and no age limits this weekend, but again, these is a formal sit-down restaurant, not a typical nightclub. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Tym live!



Also today, here's the latest from Sault Michigan classical metal project Theatre of Night's now-commenced Christmas tour, specifically the tour's local stop at The Soo Theatre on December 16th (one week from Saturday!) First, an opening band has been confirmed for it, which they credit on their Facebook page as "The Soo Theatre Cello Group." As best as I can tell, they mean The Soo Cello Crew, a chamber-style youth group formed via a class at the theatre (source here), and they should fit the with the classical influenced headliners! As per it's official poster, this show will also feature a meet & greet session with the band post-concert, and some proceeds will now benefit the recovery fund following the venue's fire that took place back in October. Ticket prices have also raised from initial announcements, with adults now being $15, students $10, and Soo Theatre Arts Resource Studios (STARS) members getting in for $5. Interestingly, singer Rachel Mender is listed alongside Craig & Steve as band members on the poster, so is she the only one of their recent live additions to become a permanent studio member too? We'll keep you posted!

Things sound like they're shaping up nicely for Theatre of Night's local stops (including in Pickford next Sunday), and hopefully this tour is a big success so that we see Theatre of Night live again in some form, Christmas season ties or not! Stay tuned for info on their newest video shares in an upcoming post!

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

  • According to personal Facebook postings last month, Eclipse guitarist Daniel Horton filled in for his old Haggith bandmate James White on bass during Handsome Sandwich's set at the Dany Laj & The Looks concert at The Rockstar Bar in Sault Ontario on November 18th. No word on where James was, but hopefully nothing too serious happened, and that Daniel fit in well with his Jack Spades predecessors at last month's show!
  • Munising, Michigan metal quartet Infathom (featuring former Sault area resident Dillion Semasky) have surprisingly been named as openers for the Theory of a Deadman concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Soo's Kewadin Casino on December 30th! The band broke the news on their Facebook page on Monday, and will be playing their first public set in the E.U.P. since rocking Pickles in Brimley last March. Huge opportunity for Infathom, so don't miss them at month's end if you have your tickets, because this show is advertised as being SOLD OUT!
  • 3 Day Millionaires drummer Scott McLurg filled in with fellow local classic/hard rock quartet Soundcheck for their show at The Esquire Club on Friday, November 17th, as per the band's Facebook page! No word on where Steven Flint was, but he wasn't advertised as missing the follow-up show on the 18th. This notably meant that Scott and ex-Millionaires bandmate Travis Sharpe were reunited for this concert, and hopefully he fit in nicely with Soundcheck last month!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates in the coming days on the SMS! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Din - "Suburban Dream" Review!!

For our 102nd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, we're finally taking a look at defunct local alternative/hard rock trio The Din's second and final studio album "Suburban Dream"! Though independently released on October 21st during their CD release/farewell concert at LopLops Lounge, we held our review until December due to having just reviewed "The Din Does Laundry" in June, as to avoid any bias accusations. Recorded at Pretoria Hill Productions with producers Daniel Schmidt and frontman Mike Haggith earlier this year, this album was somewhat abruptly recorded once The Din opted to disband this fall. Mike performs vocals & bass as usual, and is once again joined here by guitarist Tammy Hill (Daniel's daughter) and drummer Brandan Glew on all tracks. Copies of "Suburban Dream" were available for $10 at the farewell show and through band members, but they were advertised as a limited print run of just 50 copies. However, the album can be bought digitally on Bandcamp for $5, as well as streamed for free there.

If you have any hope of buying a CD copy, I'd contact band members on social media in case they happen to have any extant copies left, but I wouldn't assume they didn't sell them out. With 9 tracks running for 39 minutes in length, let's begin our final CD review of 2017!

The album begins with "Give Me A Reason", which has an up-tempo hard rock opening and nice audible bass, and it has a nice groove to it! Right away, I will note that Mike's vocals seem to be mixed a little high, but he sings with confidence, and uses his deep singing voice well. The guitar riffing is solid, and Tammy's guitar solo (while brief) gets the job done nicely! My big complaint is with the repetitive singing of the song's title in the choruses, which especially stands out on one of the CD's shorter tracks, but overall, a solid opener for this album! Second is "High Park", with Mike leading off with a nice showcase of slow bass picking and some more melancholy singing, with the mood remaining mid-tempo and deliberate throughout. Since it's live debut, I've disliked the "oooooh" vocals on the choruses, but on this version, only the first chorus has that, so it's an improvement! The best parts to me are the slight bumps in intensity before each chorus, and it's a good talent showcase for everyone, but I prefer their faster and more rock-based originals.

Next on the album is it's longest song, "Up In The Air", which opens with some solid drumming from Brandan before the full band kicks in, with the song's composition being a fair amount lighter and more reserved, almost like it's The Din took influence from City & Colour or a similar act. Honestly, this song would match well with an airplane flight (possibly intentionally?) I don't think the vocal harmonizing works as well here, but the leisurely pace works for what it is, and Tammy acclimates well for her guitar solo. For what it is, it's a nice change of pace and well written, but fans of their heavier songs may want to look elsewhere. "35's The Limit" is up next, which opens with a catchy bass lick and chugging guitar riff that helps easily identify this one to even casual fans. A return to their heavier roots, the song has some chorus vocals that are reminiscent of "High Park", but it's more of a complete song to me, even if Tammy's guitar solo is over before it really begins. Not a bad rocker, and with some unique verse instrumentation too!

The next four tracks are among The Din's last to be debuted live, including "Weekend Delivery", easily the CD's shortest song. Easily the softest and most ballad-like song of the album, this one feels like a natural evolution from "Up In The Air" (why not have it right after in the order?) Honestly, this song would probably work better as a true solo performance, as it sounds a little cluttered given it's pacing, but it's a good palate cleanser that fans of Mike & The Din's softer sides should enjoy! Also, did anyone else hear Brandan (I assume) saying 'I'm sorry" 85 seconds in? That's followed by "Missing", which is a mid-tempo rocker that bears some similarities to "High Park", but with stronger, fully sung choruses. Mike sings in a lower register for much of this track, which suits the mood, and Brandan has solid drumming in particular, and while the bassy richness helps things out, I do prefer The Din at a faster and more upbeat pace from other tracks. Not a bad number though!

Song #7 is "In The Moonlight", which has another melancholy intro from Mike that shows off his lyrical emotion and bass skill nicely, including some fitting vocal adjustments that really accentuate his range! The slow burn to full band involvement is well done, with Brandan's drumming well suited by the second chorus, and Tammy's guitar solo also fits like a glove! Unlike on "Weekend Delivery" this is an example of mashing the full band with an emotional softer performance that compliments itself without seeming too forced, and for that reason, it is honestly one of the better tracks on "Suburban Dream" (in my opinion!) The penultimate song on the album is "The Price That You Pay", which has the essence of a 1970s prog rock ballad for it's instrumentation, which hopefully isn't off base to say. This isn't hurt by featuring a keyboard prominently, and while Mike's vocals are melodic and strong, they build nicely into the choruses, and I like the dramatic tension that the song contains. Solid work all around, with a grandiose feel that calls to mind Mike's "Present Din" solo album at times, and it's a late highlight on this album!

This CD and The Din's studio recording career ends with it's title track "Suburban Dream", which brings things to a hard rocking conclusion with a fast Foo Fighters-esque pace that fans will surely take to! Nothing shocking to report here, it's a fun track that gives Tammy a nice showcase on guitar, and the upbeat mood is nice to see after the prior four tracks, and everyone performs to their best! My big complaint is just a nitpick: the backing vocal "Woah" and "Yeah" on the chorus are out of place and took me out of the rhythm. Fun closer to end the album & the band on a high note!

So, what are my final thoughts on The Din's final studio album? Well, it's a solid closer to their run that showcases their musical range nicely, from fast and upbeat to slow and serious! Aside from being entirely comprised of originals (their first CD was almost half re-recordings of Mike's old projects), the biggest difference here was the tonal shift, with much of the album taking on a softer and somewhat darker tone, especially on those four late songs that debuted in late-period concerts, though they may have reflected the band's imminent demise. Songs like "The Price That You Pay" really demonstrated that side at it's apex, but "Give Me A Reason" & "35's The Limit" were more my style musically. Everyone performed strongly on this album, with Mike Haggith's singing never sounding better (and his bass matching that), Tammy Hill's guitar work flowing well from sound to sound, and Brandan Glew's drumming a consistent compliment with some key timing and rhythmic moments along the way!

It would have been nice to have seen maybe one or two old originals of Mike's on the album ("We Met As Surrogates" being the obvious snub), and some of the choruses and backing vocal choices weren't optimal for the song's structure, but for their final album, you can't complain too much. Musically, I do prefer "Give In To The Din" for it's added focus on heavy and upbeat originals, but "Suburban Dream" is a fitting sendoff, and well worth it for fans to check out, and you can do so at the above links!

I hope you guys liked our final CD review of 2017, but what's coming to start 2018 next month? It's too soon to guess at this point, but here's what I do know. A new metal, hard rock, or punk album would get first preference, and this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post from this past Saturday will give hints as to what could be out next. Assuming nothing is by month's end, we'd dip into the archives for our next review, but it will not be one of Mike's old band Haggith's unreviewed CDs, as we're still within our 6 month anti-bias buffer period from our last review of theirs. If it's an archive review, we will tie it in with a local band or artist playing live in January 2018 if at all possible, so stay tuned over the next 2 months for ideas in that regard, as we have a lot of possibilities to draw from! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and weekend concert preview on the site soon! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

An Inactive Band Note, A Surprising Lineup Departure, And New Videos!!

Now is a good time for our first concert preview-less news post of December 2017, so what can you take in here? A pair of new videos from each side of the border, and a disappointing departure from a prominent local band's lineup, but first, here's some notes on a band who have sadly passed our one year threshold for new activity!

We have a band to reluctantly move to our inactive band links, and they are veteran local "blue Chinese metal crash punk" quartet Sykotyk Rampage. While nothing has been publically announced regarding their status, the band last posted anything online one year ago on Friday with the release of their free album "Sanctuarium", while they last played a live concert set at last year's Soo Zombie Walk festivities (their only local show of 2016 as it was.) Notable as the longest active band covered on the SMS, Sykotyk Rampage were notorious for their style of alternative and blues-tinged hard rock dating back to their 1982 inception, though many fans will be most familiar with their work since the late 2000s as both an extremely prolific studio band (improvising songs for their numerous albums) and as a unique and entertaining live outfit, re-learning many old originals for their concert sets. These included such concert events as the Zombie Walk, the Swampstravaganza, the former Rosie metal nights, and even four recent battles of the bands, among many others.

While admittedly an acquired taste for many, I enjoyed Sykotyk Rampage's wide ranging and totally original style and approach, with a great sense of humour, ribald attitude, and unique approach to both songwriting and album releases (it'd take eons to listen to all of their songs), all benefiting fans of the Becker brothers and company over the decades. The guys are also extremely friendly and cordial over the years, and I hope we haven't seen the last of their brand of crash music, but best of luck to Paul, Dirk, Shane, Tony, Brian, and early bandmates in the future!

Also, we have a major lineup departure to note from a noted local punk band, as A Dire Setback have officially confirmed that they've parted ways with singer Larry Babic. This had been rumoured for about two months now, especially with his split from Live705 already being public, but the band only confirmed his leaving the band via a post on their Facebook page this morning. A Dire Setback didn't go into details on Larry's exit (simply saying it was "due to unforeseen circumstances" and that they had came "to a crossroads"), and while I have been told more in private conversations back in the fall, I won't go into any extra detail publically unless the band or Larry do. This is definitely a disappointing announcement, as Larry is an effective and talented singer that fit right in with A.D.S., but hopefully we see him in a new band at some point! According to A Dire Setback's Facebook posting, they will be continuing as a three-piece band, and their first show back will indeed be at the Guy Thiffault memorial concert at The Canadian Nightclub on Wednesday, December 27th.

While they haven't specified who is now singing lead for A Dire Setback yet, my money's on guitarist Chris Nielsen, given his prominent backing vocal work with the band already, but I could be completely off base. In any event, we'll know by the 27th, so don't miss the new look A Dire Setback's return over the holidays, and stay tuned for more from them and Live705, plus Larry's future work in bands and promotion!

We'll close today with new videos, starting with a new cover performance clip from local hard rock quintet Halfway Loaded's Facebook page! Uploaded last week, this is of singer Justin Grayson and guitarist Shane Biron acoustically covering Stone Sour's "Imperfect", and it's a good rendition which gives Justin a nice vocal showcase! I also like that they didn't go the obvious route for a Stone Sour cover compared to their better known slower tracks. Give it a look below, and stay tuned for more from Halfway Loaded!



Finally, here's another new Facebook video from last month, courtesy of Sault Michigan music store Crooked Music's Facebook page on November 3rd! Apologies for the delay, this one really fell through the cracks. This video featured store co-owner/former Plastic frontman Zac Crook testing out a vintage Fender Bassman amplifier from the 1970s with a Reverend Sensei 290 guitar that was presumably in stock at the Ashmun Street location last month. Not a heavy performance on it's own, but some pleasant picking with a quality setup, so give it a look below, and make sure to stop in to Crooked Music on Saturday for their Christmas Open House, with 10% sales storewide!



That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site this week, plus our final CD review of the year very soon! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Where Are The New Albums? December 2017 Update

A new month has begun, so here is this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post! Another look at upcoming metal, hard rock, and punk albums from local bands that are at least partially recorded, this series looks at current whereabouts and public information on these intended albums. This month's post is largely a holding pattern installment to end the year, as only two entries have updated info (as noted with their title in italics), but hopefully this series starts with a bang in 2018. So, where are the new albums? Read on below to hopefully find out!
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The Bear Hunters - The Dead Testament
 

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

Background: In tentative planning since 2014 under this title, local death metal quintet The Bear Hunters have been playing songs intended for their second full length CD for a few years now, but only fully began recording sessions for "The Dead Testament" on October 2nd, 2015. Following a brief fundraising campaign and the gradual unveiling of song titles, the band have been working with producer Dustin Jones at Mission Control Studios, and have shared sporadic updates on their Instagram page. Like on 2014's "Eternal Hibernation", rhythm guitarist Josh Stephney has recorded parts for the album despite living in Southern Ontario, but it's not yet clear on how bonus tracks will be handled.

Current Release Status: The Bear Hunters haven't given any firm timetables for when to expect "The Dead Testament" in stores, but recording sessions are reportedly complete, with "finishing touches"  to blame for the delays in finishing the CD. The band is aiming for a more professional sound and release for their sophomore effort, and while there have been private online updates in the interim, the band only broke their silence on it last month on their Facebook page, where they implied that it was "officially moving onto the mixing and mastering phase.".Keep an eye out for updates when and if they come in!
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The Din's posthumous second live album

Rumoured Songs: "In Search Of The Perfect Moment", "Flux", "Alleyways & Apartments", "Out Of My League", "75", "Remember", "Potato (Should Have Known Better)", "A Drive Through The Peninsula", "Give Me A Reason", "High Park", "Up In The Air", "35's The Limit", "Weekend Delivery", "Missing", "In The Moonlight", "The Price That You Pay", "Suburban Dream", "We Met As Surrogates" (a.k.a. "We Met At The Circus")

Background: During their farewell concert (the "Suburban Sendoff") at LopLops Lounge on October 21st, now-defunct alternative hard rock trio The Din revealed to fans that they were recording soundboard audio from the show for a posthumous live album, as part of their plans to maintain an online presence with media releases on social media accounts. The band's setlist that night included live versions of every song from their two studio albums (except "The Rose"), as well as "We Met As Surrogates" from frontman Mike Haggith's 2015 solo album "The Warinside". However, their encore cover of The Tragically Hip's "Blow At High Dough" is unlikely to make the final album due to copyright issues.

Current Release Status: There's no way of knowing yet, especially given Mike's move out west for work, but a Bandcamp release of the 'Suburban Sendoff" live album is likely when mastering and editing is complete. Not much else is known, but keep posted to Din pages for word on this album when it's ready!
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Electric Church's debut album

Rumoured Songs: "Muddy Waters", "Ain't Got None", "Carey Baby", "Take Me Away", "Cross the Line"

Background: Fast rising young blues/hard rock trio Electric Church evolved from Jimi Hendrix covers in 2016 to primarily original material in 2017, and punctuated that on May 12th when they announced on their Facebook page that they were "working up some new songs... for the album!!!" It was confirmed around that time that they were recording material at Mission Control Studios with producer Dustin Jones, who shared a picture on their Facebook page confirming Electric Church's presence. However, few direct updates have followed publically, aside from a reminder in September that they were still recording.

Current Release Status: No clue, but Electric Church are a very talented band who play beyond their years, and no matter how long this takes, the album should be of solid quality when it finally comes out! Stay tuned for updates!
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The Elements' debut EP 

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

Background: Arguably better known for their funk, ska, and hard rock covers, local quartet The Elements have been adding original material to their sets since last year, and have since publically confirmed earlier teases that they are working on a debut EP. Frontman Rob Speers has confirmed in personal conversations last spring that they have been working in studio on the release, which will have at least 5 tracks, and I believe it's being self-recorded, but further public updates are minimal at best. It's also not known if they'll employ any guest performers, such as Jonas Gasperas (who may be their permanent drummer now) and saxophonist Josh Norling, a frequent presence in recent months.

Current Release Status: At this stage, I have no idea, but Rob sounded like things were going well in studio. That said, these were largely personal conversations a year ago, and the band hasn't acknowledged album recording sessions publically in recent months, so we'll have to see if updates come out on it in 2017!
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Gates of Winter - Perihelion

Rumoured Songs: "The Stars Call My True Name", "Edin Na Zu", "Dimensions", "Time Warp", "Wormhole Mechanics", "Prometheus", "Eta Carinae"

Background: Despite a hiatus from live concerts lasting almost 9 years, Gates of Winter never broke up, and are slowly working on their follow-up to 2008's "Lux Aeterna". Updates have sporadically been made since early 2010, via numerous uploads, teaser postings, and general hype for the recording sessions, though prior release forecasts haven't been realized, it was retracted from CD to EP length, and most preview media has since been taken down as the band perfected the CD's final content. While Sault native Jon Morrison was announced as the album's drummer in late 2010, it has since been confirmed that "Perihelion" will feature programmed drums. After taking a over a year's hiatus from public activity, Gates of Winter resurfaced in July with new band artwork and hints that they have "been making incredible strides, and are very excited to pull back the curtain."

Current Release Status: Personal commitments and the like have slowed things down incredibly, but in the band's most recent preview video (featuring audio samples), Gates of Winter hinted that work was winding down on "Perihelion", including noting that "the silence ends soon". Good art takes time, and knowing Gates of Winter's talent and attention to detail, they won't want to release this until everything's perfect. I'll admit that I know a bit more on "Perihelion" than what I've posted here courtesy of e-mail conversations and private postings, but I'll wait until more public word comes out. Keep an eye out for updates!
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Id Iota's full length second CD

Rumoured Songs: "Happy Sailor", "Intro To American Literature", "Seas Envy Skies", "Long D", "Cop Drama", "Deep Empty", "Blind Spots"

Background: Not long after their successful Ontario tour with Mike Mikus last fall, Id Iota began recording sessions for their second album, though public confirmation that a full length CD was currently in progress didn't occur until guitarist Dustin Goodall announced it on his studio Unsalted Audio's website earlier this year. Scattered postings and hints have followed, but nothing else has came out beyond performances of newer originals in concert through this spring. For reference, this photo got shared a few times on Id Iota's Facebook page last year, but it's unclear if it's intended to be the album's cover artwork or not. As well, collaborations with ex-RedD Monkey cellist Pete Mozarowski could be present on the CD, but that's unconfirmed.

Current Release Status: No idea, especially with the alternative/hard rock quartet keeping fairly mum on it's progress, but if there was ever a plan to release it in time for their dissolved May tour run, that's obviously came and went. Keep watch for updates as they roll in!
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Kraken Mara's self-titled debut EP
  
Rumoured Songs: "Chimera", "Ishka", "Grand Machinations", "Straus"

Background: The current progressive metal project from Late & Loud guitarist Brendan Christie & Wawa band veteran Jake Valois, Kraken Mara immediately commenced work on studio material upon their April 2016 launch, though they have yet to assemble a full lineup, let alone play live. In sporadic updates since on their Facebook page & their website, the band has indicated ongoing recording sessions towards a self-titled EP, posting and reworking original demos to their website and Reverbnation page over recent months, with Reese Wolf working as sound engineer for the tracks. As well, the cover artwork for the EP was revealed on Facebook at the end of March, and the band has since confirmed plans to record music videos for all of the planned tracks, starting with one for "Straus" in July.

Current Release Status: Your guess is as good as mine, but last month, Kraken Mara announced on their website that "the last of our tracks are being mastered as we speak", while a new playthrough video is also in the works. Brendan and Jake are keeping things very professional and technical so far, but while updates don't come all that frequently, the instrumental material sounds very good and complex so far! These should please fans of progressive and djent metal, so keep tabs above for updates!
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Mike McCleary - Weight of the Truth

Rumoured Songs: "The Me I Once Knew", "Aylan", "Carousel", "Schadenfreude", "Disavowed", "The Other Side", "Overkill", "Hour Glass", "Clarity", "Roulette", "So Surreal", "Weight of the Truth", "Fire & Fury", "The Working Poor", "Rain", "Disease", "Date Night With Darkness", "The Best Part"

Background: A relatively new sight in our coverage, local hard rock/punk solo singer/guitarist Mike McCleary began teasing a debut EP as soon as his Facebook page launched in August, posting a number of original songs that may or may not be planned for it on his Soundcloud page concurrently. The songs there are primarily studio recordings, some of which being previewed at his set during last month's Sault College reunion concert with members of Machines Dream backing him up, though he has not publically went into specifics on the EP yet, aside from revealing it's title on October 3rd.

Current Release Status: I have no clue, but Mike has showcased a nice range of talents and influences on his song postings so far, especially for seemingly coming from out of nowhere, so definitely follow Mike's online pages for more on his solo music and EP plans!
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Mike Vincent - Ultimate Chaos

Rumoured Songs: "Shoah" (retitled Skull After Betrayl cover), "Sacred Sins", "Six, Six, Six", "Systematical Satan", "Soulless Sanctuary", "Screaming Serenity", "Times Of The Unforgotten", "Chapters of No Light", "We're of Nothing", "Phases of Pain", "Filters of Fire", "Chapter 2: Glow of the Dark", "Ultimate Chaos"

Background: After briefly manning his own solo project in 2011 (which featured original songs named after food), ex-Skull After Betrayl frontman Mike Vincent resurrected his dormant solo project this past summer via his new Bandcamp page. Mike soon posted a series of six instrumentals there, all with titles starting with the letter S, which are planned to constitute his debut EP when finished with vocals. Mike followed up later with four unrelated songs that are planned for his second solo release, with "Times of the Unforgotten" notably featuring his uncle Jason Ladouceur (ex-Winkstinger) in a guest spot. After a year's hiatus for personal reasons, Mike re-emerged with a new song "Filters of Fire" this summer, and revised plans to combine his planned EPs "Six, Six, Six" & "We're of Nothing" into one full length album named "Ultimate Chaos".

Current Release Status: No idea, but given that he's posted all of it's planed songs on Bandcamp, a digital release through there seems likely, unless he only planned them to be individual free uploads. Mike's past local bands haven't quite gotten off the ground in terms of putting out albums, but for fans of Skull After Betrayl, D.O.T.H., and so on, Mike's solo project should be very intriguing, and while he put in some solid work in the process, hopefully these get a formal paid release. Keep tabs for further updates!
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Northwest's second EP

Rumoured Songs: "Hangover Habits", "Drinking Games"

Background: Following the release of their debut self-titled digital EP in September 2014, and a lengthy stage hiatus from late last year through this winter, local indie/punk quintet Northwest resumed major activity in April 2017 with teaser photos of recording sessions at Mission Control Studios with producer Dustin Jones (as they had done for their debut) being posted over the spring to their Facebook page. Confirmation that this was for a new EP, their first with current drummer Marc Santos, only came in July via their write-up in this year's Rotaryfest program, prior to their first appearance on the Second Stage..

Current Release Status: It's hard to say, especially given their quiet postings aside from the teaser photos, and the fact that their debut EP was only released online, but things sound like they're progressing well at a reliable local studio, and hopefully Northwest's second album sees it's way onto online or physical storefronts in the coming months!
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Redundant's debut CD

Rumoured Songs: "Miles Apart", "That December", "What You'll Do"

Background: Over two and a half years after their last documented studio sessions in the spring of 2012, local punk trio Redundant revealed on their Facebook page in November 2014 that they were finally working on finishing their debut CD, and will look to hold a CD release party for it upon it's completion. Details are otherwise minimal, including on if the guys will just package their older studio work for the release, or include new recordings, perhaps at bassist James White's studio White Wreckords. We'll keep you posted if we hear more!

Current Release Status: Though we don't know much on the new/revived album plans, Redundant did sound serious about completing their CD. That said, Redundant have only played a handful of times in the last couple of years, and haven't made any public statements regarding the album since 2014. The band did resume public activity in March 2016, announcing that they were writing new songs and working on "new studio shit", but there's been no public follow-through, and we haven't seen Redundant advertised for shows locally since the spring. If we hear any updates, we'll let you know!
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Skeyes of Seven - Stare at the Sky

Rumoured Songs: "Enough", "See The Truth", "Fallen Faith", "Pretend", "Cognitive Dissonance", "Crawling Back From Reality"

Background: Already no strangers to the studio after recording two songs as singles in the mid-2010s, local modern hard rock quartet Skeyes of Seven hit the studio to record their debut EP in 2015, though they only publically confirmed that an EP was in the works in January 2016. Sessions took place at Deluca Sound Productions, who have shared videos of band members tracking material for the EP, the title of which being unveiled last fall. In January, all six songs were posted to their YouTube channel, including the new instrumental "Crawling Back From Reality", while also excluding their older originals "Destination Unknown" & "No One Cares". New guitarist Kyle Sweet is not visibly on the EP, having joined Skeyes of Seven after sessions concluded.

Current Release Status: Given that the whole EP is online for free streaming, then conventional wisdom would say that "Stare at the Sky" would be released imminently, but the band has yet to confirm a paid release date. Hopefully it doesn't stall at being a free posting, as Skeyes of Seven are a talented and experienced band, and having been active in studio more than on stage since launching in 2012, it'd be great to see them culminate this process with a release concert, especially with their return to the stage in September. Follow along to see where things go!
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Telephone & Address - "Monster" & "The Early Tapes"

Rumoured Songs (M): "I Can Bleed

Rumoured Songs (E): "The Plumbers"

Background: Telephone & Address mainman Chris Shoust announced on their Facebook page in 2015 that he was working on releasing "The Early Tapes", a compilation of songs from the first 4 Telephone & Address albums (2011's self titled album, and 2012's "Live", "No. 3", and "Broken Head"). Since then however, he revealed that a separate new album named "Monster" is done, with an advanced copy leaked to him by AlgomA drummer Jamie Vincent, which likely hints that Jamie helped produce it. However, a later-recorded album, "Are You Now or Have You Ever", was officially released in October 2016, despite "Monster" being announced a year previously. Songs from both of these unreleased albums can be streamed on their Soundcloud page, and they're likely to turn up on Telephone & Address' Bandcamp page and on Interpunk down the road.

Current Release Status: Chris has indicated online that "Monster" was planned to be pressed in the fall of 2015, blaming money issues for the delays in it being released, and while a November 2016 release date was teased last fall, that has came & went too. Regarding the "The Early Tapes", Chris revealed in March 2015 that it "will be delayed for some time", though he didn't elaborate on why specifically. Also, no word on how his newest Soundcloud tracks from August play in, if at all. Assuming things go according to plan, Telephone & Address should have some big albums in the works, so we'll keep you posted when more on any of these comes out!
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I hope you guys liked this month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post! Our next installment will drop on or around January 2nd, while I fully intend for our next monthly feature post to be our review of The Din's "Suburban Dream", so look for that in the next week, and for more news and notes soon! Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 1, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Theatre of Night), Banned Concert Previews, And More From Sault Michigan!!

As promised, here's the second half of this weekend's very quiet slate of hard rock concert previews, but it works out well, as today's post is 100% devoted to bands and concerts in the Sault Michigan area, including videos and updates from a handful of local acts! Here's what you should know to kick off December, starting with a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT!

Sault Michigan classical metal collective Theatre of Night have added a few new gigs to their Christmas tour, and they include their Pickford debut on Sunday, December 17th when they rock the Pickford United Methodist Church at 115 East Church Street! It's not every day when we cover a show in Pickford, let alone one in an active church, but the setting fits given that they do perform religious Christmas carols. Promoted as "an intimate show" with a pot-luck dinner of some kind also teased, this joins tour kick-off dates tomorrow & Saturday night in Jackson, so mid-Michigan fans will get a chance to see Theatre of Night sooner than anyone else! Click here for details on those shows. A special 5:00 PM start time is in effect for this show, which is assuredly ALL AGES, and there is no announced cover charge. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and stay tuned for much more on Theatre of Night's Christmas tour plans soon, including on the Soo Theater show the previous night!

Next up, here's our previews of Kinross classic/hard rock trio Banned 's next gigs at The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Ste. Marie Kewadin Casino TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT! A week and a half removed from their pre-Thanksgiving gig at the Dondee, this will be the Traynors & Wayne's first concert weekend at the Soo Kewadin branch in almost four months. These are also their final advertised concerts of 2017, though of course, we'll address potential local gigs as they come in, perhaps as we get closer to the holidays. Of course, Banned's often-hard rocking covers and fan favourite atmosphere should get crowds going at The Rapids Lounge over these next two nights, so don't miss out tonight and/or tomorrow for all of the action! These 21+ shows have no announced cover charges and 9:00 PM start times. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Banned live!



Also, here's a new video from last week's Bret Michaels concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Soo Kewadin! Uploaded by attendee Rhiannon Singer on Wednesday, this cell phone video is of Bret covering Poison's "Talk Dirty To Me" to open his set, as seen in much longer detail from another attendee at this link. The 41 second run time, vertical camera angle, and muffled guitars don't help the quality, but the video is good for what it is, and it's nice to see some more footage online, so check it out below!



Finally, here's some overdue updates from local hard rock quartet Project 906, so what have they been up to over the past month? While there hasn't been a public show on their schedule since October, they did play a private event in Newberry early last month, while guitarist Joe Jenkins & singer Billy Bernier played a Relay For Life benefit concert at Lake Superior State University on November 17th alongside Joe's Crooked Music colleague Zac Crook and Dead Water Tapes guitarist Garrett Chevrette. We did not call the show on here for coverage as it was officially advertised as a solo set by Joe, and I couldn't immediately verify if he would be playing similar material as 906 do or not, but hopefully it was a great time for the cause! While we wait for Project 906's next live gigs, the band shared three videos onto their Facebook page on November 8th from what appear to be the aforementioned Newberry private gig, so what should you know on these?

Filmed by attendee Ellen Grigsby and shared from Joe's personal Facebook page, the videos feature Project 906 covering Alice In Chains' "Man In The Box", Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal", and as embedded below, Tesla's "Modern Day Cowboy". Not bad at all, and I like how Billy's voice is developing on the latter two songs (raspy yet rangy!), but the lighting isn't always optimal, and the music can sound a little muddled through this camera. Give these new Project 906 videos a look above & below, and hopefully we hear more from them soon!



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