It’s no secret amongst anyone that knows me that I love my local music. And although I live in Toronto, that doesn’t limit me to the parameters of the city. Toronto’s neighbouring cities (Mississauga, Oakville, Hamilton, etc.) have just as much to offer, if sometimes more. I recently had the pleasure of playing Joncro and Poor You’s release show, and to be perfectly honest, I had much more fun watching them perform than I did playing (which rarely happens for me as a musician who loves playing live). Since then I have had the EP on constant rotation and it does the herculean task of perfectly representing not just one band but two. Though the two bands are vastly different, their music meshes extremely well together.
Side A of the release belongs to Joncro, the musical project of one of the Mississauga music scene’s most enigmatic figures, Daniel G. Wilson, whose YouTube interview series “DGAW Interviews” shines a light on the undiscovered talent of Mississauga, Toronto and beyond. Backed by the thunderous drumming of Matthew Mikuljan, the duo play a ferocious blend of noisy post-hardcore a la Hüsker Dü and Fugazi, spacier bands like Hum, and even the occasional spoken-word passage. Their two contributions to the split, “Sakra” and “Rusty” pack an incredible one-two punch, exploring one’s descent in the aftermath of a relationship.
“Sakra” starts with Wilson’s narrator pontificating on fears of losing his edge as he pines for someone who has recently left him. The song then builds and bursts into a beautiful swell of guitars only to shift into the sweetness of the chorus, which recalls late 90’s/early 2000’s second-wave emo bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate or American Football. The shift towards the middle displays the narrator finally succumbing to the madness brought on by the loss of his love, leading into a swirling guitar crescendo which continues to build around Mikuljan’s impressive drumming until it finally breaks into a haze of feedback. The next track, “Rusty”, does not allow the listener to rest for long however. The song further displays emotional suffering brought on by the end of a relationship, but gone are the sweetness and romantic longing of “Sakra”, replaced with confusion, bitter emptiness and pessimism. In spoken-word, Wilson warns that the world is a “jungle, out for your blood” before leading the listener on a sonic journey, progressively picking up speed as if to show the narrator finally spiralling out of control. Their music is raw and filled with so much energy & heart. I cannot wait to hear more from these two!
Side B is Oakville’s Poor You, the slacker-rock quartet consisting of Chris Borges and Julia Noel on guitars/vocals, Megan Boni on bass, and Chris Russell on drums. The band’s sound is highly reminiscent of 90’s slowcore bands like Codeine & Red House Painters as well as slacker bands like Pavement & Sebadoh, however there is also a mild resemblance to more modern bands like Speedy Ortiz & Alex G. But ultimately, it is Poor You’s songcraft that really makes them stand out from the pack. Their side starts with the pensive “Smash Brothers”, with lyrics focusing on an old friendship that seems to have become stale. The arpeggiated guitars trod along through the intro, into the singular verse and explode into the song’s chorus of sorts. This odd songwriting is much more effective at placing a sense of immediacy on the story of the track, as if the lyrics are more stream of consciousness than structured poetry. Next, the punchy “Fineliner” explores the inevitability of death, as the narrator continues to dig a hole for their body and head, going so far as to resort to digging with their hands after the breaking of their shovel. The final line, “we all decompose in the end” really hits home the idea that resistance is futile; we’re all just desperately digging, while death waits to come for us all. The song is short but extremely poignant. Finally, “Despair Came Knocking” is probably my favourite of the three. The intro of swirling, descending guitar and vibrato laced key parts, held down flawlessly by the rhythm section, perfectly encapsulates the feeling of slowly falling down. Combined with the narrative of a silent, smoking woman (Despair personified), the song presents the cyclical nature of depression, repeating the lyrics over and over. The song is so simple and yet so brilliant in said simplicity. Poor You’s mastery of emotional weight through their instrumentation and lyrical content is a force to be reckoned with.
Jake Lehman is an avid music junkie and guitarist in the Toronto-based Shoegaze/Noise band Tonemirror who have recently released their debut EP Fever Dreams (included on The Shoegaze Collective’s best of 2016 and receiving airplay on DKFM). Check them out HERE.