Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who Put The 'Mod' In 'Modcore?'

Photo courtesy of Milk Milk Lemonade

Dear Friends, I just got back from the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. Yes, you heard right. The Ukrainian Cultural Centre. And it was culture I got, but not Ukrainian. No, this was locally grown pop cultcha - The Tranzmitors. You may recall my disgruntlement at missing them a couple of months back. And I was right to be peeved, because they are a splendid band.

Now, the Ukrainian Cultural Centre is a bit of an odd venue. It's basically a 1920s neighbourhood church-type hall, set in a leafy residential street that's only a block away from Downtown Eastside, the most deprived area in Canada. But it frequently hosts storming, all-ages punk gigs, and tonight The Tranzmitors were supporting intense Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up. The whole thing ended up being, in the words of Tranzmitor frontman Jeffie Genetic, "a modcore festival."

The Tranzmitors brought the "mod" bit of the equation, taking to tthe stage dressed in skinny drainpipe trousers, skinny ties, and skinny, small-lapelled three-button jackets. Bassist Mike looked like nothing so much as a lanky, skittish Buddy Holly, guitarist Nick bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Jam stickman Rick Buckler (about which more later) and keyboardist Jarrod presided over what looked to be an acely retro-red Ace Tone organ.

And the music, oh boy! From the opening song "Glamour Girls," it was a nonstop, heady mix of tightly-wound, hooky, punkymodpop. I've said it before in my previous post, but I'll say it again in case you weren't listening: think equal measures of "Going Underground" era Jam and Buzzcockian buzzsaw geetarr, with a good few tablespoons of Secret Affair stirred in. All delivered with the sweat, energy, and conviction of The Ramones at their finest. But mistake me not, this is not just a pastiche of what has come before; these lads take their influences and mix them up with their own panache to create fresh, hot, rock 'n' roll goodness. It was a storming set that came to an end all too soon.

At the merch table I snapped up all five of their original 45s, because this sort of band that makes me want to own their back catalogue on old skool vinyl, not just in intangible digital bits and bytes downloaded from e-music.

Now listen up those of you out in the UK: this was the last Tranzmitors show before the group heads out to Britain for an August tour. You see, they've recently signed to the mighty Stiff Records (born 1976, died 1985, reborn 2006), and the tour is a prelude to the release of their s/t album on 27 August in the UK and Ireland. So rejoice, my British chums, and go see their amazingness for yourself! So far dates are confirmed for Guilford (17 Aug), Newport in Wales (22 Aug), and London (24 Aug at the fabulous Dirty Water Club), but the lads will be playing a further half dozen gigs around the country. Check their Myspace page for the latest schedule. If you do go along (and you should, far better investment than shelling out to see the travesty that is From The Jam), do say hello to the boys --they're ever so nice-- and tell them FiL sent you.

Right, here's one last Tranzmitors track for you - you really should go out and buy your own.

The Tranzmitors - Bigger Houses, Broken Homes
You can buy the old 7" singles here, but the Stiff release of the the band's self-titled album will have an additional 4-track EP of the earlier songs. Those of you in North America can e-buy the latest album e-here.