It’s going to be a good little while until we can sweat it out in live venues again, but record stores are back in action. There are two killer slabs of glimmering Canadian power pop (that somehow escaped my radar when they were both released in 2018): the Modern Minds’ Go! and the Mods Rickenbacker-driven Reactions. These original recordings stem from punk-pop’s glory years as razor blades made way for skinny ties in ’78 to ’80. Thanks to awesome Toronto label and punk rock excavators Ugly Pop, this is surely the first time many of us will have ever had a chance to check out these rare gems.
The Mods, Reactions (Ugly Pop, 2018)
Bursting out of the first wave of Toronto punk that featured snotty gutter gods like Viletones, Teenage Head and the Ugly, the Mods were the odd men out with the parkas and penny loafers. The energy, urgency and general smash-and-bash that they squeezed into the grooves of Reactions is undeniable, with pure pop-punk power. The 1979 single Step Out Tonight is included here but it’s the unreleased jewels like Reign of Terror and Comin’ In Out of the Rain is proof that if these Scarberians had instead been located in London or L.A at the dawn of the ’80s, they would’ve been crowned power pop kings. Not all is peaches and cream here, though, as their obvious obsession with the Jam is on full display, especially with singer Greg Trinier, who frankly sounds like a Paul Weller understudy — his vocals might make you bristle upon first listen, with a voice that can only be described as “punchable.” Upon closer inspection, with repeated listens, you can hear Trinier come into his own. Ugly Pop once again kill with great packaging and include an informative bio written by Mods drummer David Quinton-Steinberg with period-correct photos of the fellas glamming it up for the camera as well as copy of a gig flyer for us trainspotters. If you dig the Nerves and the Exploding Hearts, you really need to stick your needle in this groove.
The Modern Minds, Go! (Ugly Pop, 2018)
Another major power pop score here from Ugly Pop as they unearth the ultra rare KBD 1980 single “Theresa’s World” as well as unreleased demos that prove this Edmonton trio should have been leading the skinny-tie charge of 1980. Most noted as featuring the Pursuit of Happiness’s Moe “I’m An Adult Now” Berg this is a snapshot of Berg still full of piss and vinegar with stacks of Buzzcocks, Pointed Sticks, Modernettes and Undertones records under each arm. Early Who and Todd Rundgren’s sense of songwriting prowess also make appearances in the most unlikely places. Ugly Pop keep things churning in the packaging department and includes an extensive bio written by Ugly Pop head honcho Simon Harvey, photos of the nerdy trio, early gig fliers as well as a photocopy of an early press clipping. If this collection of their sole single and demos saw the light of day in 1980 on a label like Bomp, this humble piece of power pop would’ve easily been spoken about in the same breath as the Plimsouls, the Records, the DB’s and the Only Ones. Get this now!!!
For all other killer releases on Ugly Pop, check out their Discogs page.
See previous editions of Hammer of the Mods here.