Next Music from Tokyo vol. 12: PREVIEW

The month of May is upon us. Japanese music nerds all across Canada rejoice: another edition of Next Music from Tokyo is coming!

Next Music from Tokyo (NMFT) is a series of DIY tours showcasing relatively unknown bands from all over Japan (despite its name) organized and funded entirely by anesthesiologist, music aficionado, and all-around good guy Steven Tanaka. It’s been running since 2010, and the last edition, volume 11, was in October 2017.

NMFT volume 12 will be happening on May 18 and 19 in at Rivoli and Lee’s Palace in Toronto, May 21 at La Sala Rossa in Montreal, and May 23 at Biltmore Cabinet in Vancouver. Four out of five bands have already participated in a previous edition of the tour. Three out of the five bands are from May 2017’s massively successful 10th edition, one band is from the 11th edition, and the remaining band is the only newcomer.

Below is an outline of all the bands from this year’s lineup, plus the accompanying show recording with tracks from the band and commentary from DJ Lawrell, host of Fukubukuro.


The Taupe

The Taupe are from the NMFT vol. 10 cohort, and is by far the loudest band from last year, this year, and probably any years in the future.

I previously had a bit of difficulty describing their sound, as they tend to jump from college radio-friendly post-punk to aggressively noisy shoegaze. Now that I am more familiar with this band, I can safely say that my previous assessment of them was exactly that, and then some.

Their studio material is mostly brooding and dark, but it doesn’t hold a candle to their live performances. It doesn’t matter if the song is cool, almost arena rock-ish in quality, or if the song is drowned in guitar feedback. Expect headwalking, mosh pits, and a guitarist spinning like a tornado for an hour.

Recommended if you like: post-punk, shoegaze, stage theatrics


Koutei Camera Girl Drei

Koutei Camera Girl Drei (abbreviated Kouteca3) have only formed back in August 2017, with their first ever show taking place at the last edition of NMFT in October 2017, making them technically the newest band of the bunch. “Technically” being the key word here.

There were previous incarnations of the group, with the first, simple named Koutei Camera Girl (Kouteca), going way back to 2014. Since its formation, this idol hip-hop unit and its multiple spin-offs have been pushing out some of the most inventive hip-hop music that I’ve heard in years. Pop rap? Yeah, they got that. Deep house rap? Oh yeah. Post-punk rap? Bring it. Songs named after Toronto and Montreal? You bet.

For the uninitiated, Japanese idols are usually young, female singers/artists/models/what have you, who often perform in groups to be admired more for their image and cuteness more than for their music. However, Kouteca3’s musical talent is undeniable, and I’d say that they should be respected as a legitimate hip-hop unit that just happens to have the “idol” label slapped onto them (not that there’s anything wrong with being an idol).

RIYL: hip-hop, Japanese idols, super cool instrumentals


Yubisaki Nohaku

In last year’s preview of the tour, I called Yubisaki Nohaku the “quietest” band of the bunch. That was a mistake. These girls rock.

Their guitarist Junko is by far the most eager to party. She will crowd surf at least a couple dozen times in a single show if given the chance, and will chug beers with the crowd to get them fired up. Their live performances are so gripping that the crowd instinctively knows how to participate and sing along, even if they’ve never heard their music before.

Their music has that sophisticated, but not quite prog nor math songwriting that is so common among all-female Japanese rock bands, such as tricot, or NMFT alumni Akai Koen, and Hitsuji Bungaku.

RIYL: Japanese all-female rock bands, great songwriting, chugging


Bakyun the Everyday

An unexpected favourite for me from last year, Bakyun the Everyday is a two-piece pop punk unit accompanied with their friends on bass and guitar.

Bakyun the Everyday is very straightforward in their approach. What they lack in songwriting chops, they more than make up in energy and charm. Although their kind of music is not usually what I enjoy on a day-to-day basis, I was absolutely floored by how much emotion and fun they put into their performances.

I am 100% sure that you will feel the same about them, and that they have only gotten better since last time.

RIYL: pop punk, fun



Lucie,Too is another all-female rock unit, and the only group that I was not familiar with prior to the announcement of this edition’s lineup.

If NMFT was like high school, then Lucie,Too would definitely be named the most likely to succeed (sorry, Yubisaki Nohaku). Lucie,Too’s music is by far the most accessible, but it is by no means simplistic. It is equal parts fun, sweet, and catchy, and is sure to be a hit with anyone coming to the show, and I’m sure, soon, with all of Japan.

RIYL: power pop, twee