Next Music from Tokyo Offers Promising Lineup

It is the middle of the month of May, and this can only mean one thing for Japanese music nerds in Canada: it’s time for another edition of Next Music from Tokyo (NMFT).

In short, NMFT is a DIY tour organized by Steven Tanaka, funded entirely from his own pocket. It is a passion project driven entirely by the desire to expose Canada to the amazing indie music scene from Japan, and has been running annually (sometimes twice in a year) ever since 2010.

Here is a sampler of the bands that’ll be playing this year, on May 19 and 20 in Toronto, May 22 in Montreal, and May 24 in Vancouver.

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The Taupe

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Like all the other bands in the current lineup, The Taupe’s general sound is a little difficult to describe, in the sense that they do not stick to a single mood or sound. It’s easy to label them post-punk for their effortlessly cool college indie rock tracks, or shoegaze for their insanely loud walls of noise, or psychedelic for their dissonant chord progressions and trippy music videos.

And yet, they’re not any of that. The Taupe is all of that, and probably more—one can only extrapolate so much from low quality footage of live shows and studio recordings that supposedly don’t quite capture the essence of their performances. So really, the only way to find out what they are is to see them perform in person.

Recommended if you like (RIYL): post-punk, shoegaze, psychedelic, loud guitars



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Yukueshirezutsurezure (abbreviated YSTZ) is an alt-idol group combining pop, hardcore, and even breakcore to make up a distinctive sound that is totally unlike what Canadians would think of when picturing a typical idol group.

For those unfamiliar with Japanese idol culture, they are female popstars, actresses, or even models, who are expected to be prim, proper, and above all, adorable. The interactions between the idols and their audience is also extremely important, both on stage and off stage. Alt-idols don’t like to play by the rules, and subvert their audiences’ expectations of their appearance, their music, or their behaviour with their fans.

YSTZ does that by being as loud and abrasive as possible in their music, and when they can’t be, you should expect some screaming and headbanging right around the corner. This is also reflected in their live performances, something that idol groups excel at.

RIYL: hardcore, pop, getting yelled at by cute girls, all at the same time


Yubisaki Nohaku

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There’s something quite strange about Japanese music—they have a disproportionate amount of all-female rock bands. Yubisaki Nohaku is one of those bands. As far as I know, there isn’t anything quite like the sound of Japanese all-female rock bands elsewhere in the world, with some of them reaching relative indie fame, like tricot.

Like NMFT alumni Akai Koen, Regal Lily, and Hitsuji Bungaku, Yubisaki Nohaku’s music displays a certain level of sophistication backed by distorted guitars and very precise and original songwriting. They’re arguably the “quietest” band of the bunch, but also the most accessible. Their music can be enjoyed at a concert just as well as it can be enjoyed chilling on your bed.

RIYL: Japanese all-female rock bands, great songwriting


Bakyun the Everyday

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Bakyun the Everyday’s music is definitely not the most provocative, nor the most original, but even on their album material, you can hear how this two-member unit—accompanied with their friends on bass and drums—is having a blast when they’re playing.

Considering that NMFT shows last around five hours (!) and are always chock-full of complex compositions, screaming, and mosh pits, that is totally fine. Bakyun the Everyday’s straightforward and energetic songs are sure to appeal to anyone who comes to the show with no knowledge of any of the bands, just looking to have a good time while enjoying a beer.

RIYL: pop punk, good vibes



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Hyacca (pronounced hyakka) comes back to the Canadian tour after their gigs on the 3rd edition of the tour, in 2011. Their albums are quite eclectic, jumping from dreamy shoegaze to Melt-Banana-style absolute mayhem. If The Taupe was hard to describe because they try to have different subgenres on different songs, Hyacca is even harder to describe, because they often don’t stick to a single genre in a one song. If I could describe them, it would be with these three words: precisely controlled chaos.

While YSTZ and The Taupe will rely on on-stage theatrics, aggressive performances, and just general loudness, Hyacca is sure to capture the audience with their sheer unpredictability and skilfully switching from one genre to another without losing any of their masterful playing.

RIYL: math rock, noise rock, shoegaze, mosh pits