“Stuck inside the house, it’s the middle of May…”
That line from ‘Ice Box City’, the opening track on Popular Mechanix’s 1979 self-titled debut album, perfectly encapsulates life in what often seems like perpetual winter in Winnipeg, Canada. It was minus 32 Celsius, with a wind chill factor that made it feel like -45 C (that’s negative 26 F and 49 F, respectively, for my southern friends), when I visited the hometown that I share with this underappreciated gem of a band over the holidays. Not exactly for the faint of heart – our nickname is ‘Winterpeg’, after all – but my trip home was significantly improved by finding some nice used copies of the band’s output at one of the local record shops.
Popular Mechanix were among a handful of Winnipeg new wave and punk bands that gained some acclaim, at least up here in the Great White North, in the late 1970s and early 80s. Comprised of Stu Nichols (voice/guitar), Boris Hoagy (bass/vocals) and Greg Gardner (drums/vocals), they released two full length LPs – today’s ROTD, Popular Mechanix, and its follow-up, Western World – between 1979 and 1982.
While the band may have been short-lived, they definitely made their mark on the city with a “mood altering climate”. Borrowing from power pop, punk, and ska, they created energetic new wave music that recalls bands like XTC, Devo, Talking Heads, and The Jam – just what we all need to warm up these long, cold winter nights!
Check out ‘Ice Box City’, along with the rest of their debut album on YouTube. As a special bonus, since it’s my very first ROTD here on 50thirdand3rd, follow it up with their even better (IMHO) second release, Western World!
‘Ice Box City’