Initially I was going to list off a bunch of bands in consideration for the final roster spot and let popular vote be the deciding factor. But then I realized I didn’t have a single venue secured yet and the prices for airline tickets jumped from $1350 to $1500/person. Basically, I didn’t have time to f*ck around on a popularity vote and time was running out on whether I could realistically afford to do the tour in May.
First off, the tour WILL happen and the schedule is:
May 19 (Fri) Toronto @ ??
May 20 (Sat) Toronto @ Lee’s Palace
May 22 (Mon) Montreal @ Divan Orange
May 23 (Wed) Vancouver @ Biltmore Cabaret (most likely)
It took two weeks to successfully book Lee’s Palace because a bunch of different promoters had already placed holds on it for May 20. But I managed to secure it somehow and Divan Orange as well.
Those who live in Toronto should already know that Soybomb was forced to close down thanks to right-wing a-hole snitches. The plan was to still use Soybomb secretly on May 19 but Jason (Soybomb) felt I should secure a proper venue instead of taking the risk. Soybomb was perfect for NMFT. Even though the sound wasn’t the greatest, it probably had the best vibe/atmosphere/crowd of any live music space in Canada, ever. Soybomb/Lee’s Palace back to back was such a great combo. There will never be a space quite like Soybomb but hopefully I can find a new spot (~200 capacity) that complements NMFT almost as well.
In case you forgot, the four bands already on the roster are listed here.
I do apologize because I was serious about letting fans choose the 5th band from a long list of potentials but with the threat of airfare creeping higher and higher I had to take executive action.
I ended up sending invitations to three great bands hoping one of them could actually make the tour:
Hyacca is one of my favorite bands. But more importantly they are one of Geoff’s favorite bands. LOL. Since Geoff does more than everyone else combined x10 in terms of helping me spread word about the tour (i.e. getting me radio, newspaper and TV coverage and promoting on social media) I should try to keep him happy. Hyacca were part of the legendary NMFT3 line-up. I’ve tried to bring them back to Canada again many times but their work schedule was always an obstacle. I assumed it would be impossible again but it turns out they CAN make it… but there’s a catch… two wives and one kid need to come too.
Thankfully, I’m not responsible in paying for their mini-entourage (least I damn well better not be) but if I go ahead with Hyacca it would bring the total number of people (band members + managers + Hyacca’s extended family) to 26!!!
From a logistical standpoint 26 musicians/people is a freaking nightmare.
Also, if Hyacca ends up the 5th band it may be the most ‘no-name’ line-up in the history of NMFT (even though I guarantee it will be one of the best!). But seriously, it is tough to promote with a band like Hyacca since their internet and social media presence is almost nonexistent. Their existing Youtube content also does a sh*tty job of conveying the jaw-dropping awesomeness of their live shows.
So I waited to hear from the other two bands.
雨のパレード (Ame no Parade)
Ame no Parade is practically on the opposite end of the spectrum from Hyacca. Whereas, Hyacca is almost completely unknown even in the underground scene, Ame no Parade is on a major label and one of the hottest young bands in Japan right now. From a promotional standpoint and for beneficial networking/political reasons, Ame no Parade would make my life a whole lot easier. I assumed it would be impossible for them to come in May with an invitation this late but apparently there is just one potential schedule conflict holding them back. There is a 50% chance they MIGHT have to do a show in Osaka on May 21st otherwise their schedule is free enough to take part in NMFT10.
This actually happens fairly often where I’ll invite a band 4-5 months in advance and they’ll turn down an expenses-paid invitation to play shows in Canada because they have a regular show in Japan they don’t want to cancel.
I know for a fact Ame no Parade’s members are dying to come to Canada but their manager is worried about reneging on the show in Osaka.
But seriously, how difficult is it to tell a promoter “I’m really sorry about this but we just received a fantastic offer to tour in Canada. Since it’s still 4-5 months away is there any chance you could find another band to replace us so that we can go on this Canadian tour?”
However, the real head-scratcher is the fact that it’s only a 50% possibility they might have to do the show in Osaka. It’s not even a done deal!! So hurry up and come to Canada already!!!
But nope. The Japanese are really rigid when it comes to following through with obligations (even 50% ones) and Ame no Parade can’t participate in NMFT10 unless the Osaka invitation falls through.
So what did the third band have to say?
These guys are SICK! and I would love to have them on the roster but the problem is WONK has four members but usually perform shows with a 5th support musician.
On top of that they have a manager.
On top of that most of their songs feature guest vocalists/emcees so I’d probably half to bring at least one guest emcee like Jua who freestyles en français in the video below:
(yeah, that’s me yelling in the call and response.*hides in embarrassment* LOL. And holy f*ck! @ the drummer! So good.)
Despite the staffing headache inviting WONK might entail I emailed their manager about NMFT10.
They’d love to come BUT because of their jobs they’d only have time to do the Toronto shows. Would that be okay?
Well. Considering I live in Toronto and they’d still be able to do half the shows…. I said “Sure, why not!”
There have been scenarios in the past where bands like Merpeoples and nayuta performed in Toronto but skipped other shows but
I don’t want fans in Vancouver and Montreal to have a conniption so I’m going to have to decline WONK’s counter-offer.
Hey, what’s that sound?
Oh that was just Geoff screaming “F*ck yeah!!” all the way from Oakville because it looks like Hyacca is the 5th band on the NMFT10 roster. And now he’s throwing dabs in silent jubilation.
I absolutely cringe at the idea of having to babysit 26 people across Canada but it’s basically a done deal with Hyacca.
Having said that, I’ll still list a few of the bands I was considering for the 5th roster spot.
You guys can clamour “Steve!!! Hold up!!! If there’s still time, invite ________ instead!!!!” in the comments section but then Geoff will probably murda yo’ ass.
逃亡くそタわけ (Toubou Kusotawake)
One of my favorite underground bands. Yeah that’s me again you hear in the background shooting the video and shouting the chorus like an idiot. 🙂
Great friends of PENs+. Nobumi of bakyun the everyday feels they are the best up and coming band in the scene right now.
They are supremely talented musicians but half of their songs have a bit of a generic emo-ballad quality that irks me.
However, some of their songs are straight up fire like the song above and these ones too: “Puke” and “Ginger
Yoshida Yohei Group
These guys are absolutely amazing live. But their band consists of seven members. Just hanging out with Kuro-chan (of TamTam) who is also in this band would be awesome but maybe on a future NMFT.
校庭カメラギャル (Koutei Camera Gal)
Is ramy t talata legit shouting “To my ho(ez)! To my ho(ez)!” in the chorus? SMFH.
*edit: No, it’s actually the world’s worst pronunciation of “Tomahawk! Tomahawk!!” and the song title is “GalTomahawk” *
Since I love underground hip hop I used to prefer Koutei Camera Gal (aka Utegya) over the house/EDM stylized Koutei Camera Girl Zwei (aka Kouteka2) but after “Night on Verse” dropped, Kouteka2 became not only my favorite idol group but favorite band or group to watch live PERIOD. I would have brought Kouteka2 to Canada in a heartbeat even if it meant bringing them along with Yukueshirezutsurezure but Kouteka2’s break-up was announced in September even before I had a chance to see them perform live let alone invite them. Utegya is also dope but their songs have nowhere near as much variety and creativity as Kouteka2. Hopefully, as time goes on Tapestok will inject some added fire into the instrumentals/production because (now that warwar2me is gone) ramy t is my fave member of the Tapestok massive. Don’t be surprised if Utegya and Kouteka3 end up on NMFT11 or 12. 🙂
Midori was almost on the NMFT2 roster back in 2010 but they ended up responding too late and I had already finalized the line-up with sgt. How dope would Midori + MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS + uhnellys + susquatch have been??
I convinced Mariko Goto that coming in May during NMFT3 when the weather is much warmer and nicer would be even better and it worked. Midori was the first band confirmed for the NMFT3 roster and they were all set to come to Canada in 2011…. but then they decided to break up in December 2010. (FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!)
The whole idea of NMFT started because I thought it would be awesome if one day I brought Midori, Rin Toshite Shigure and Chatmonchy on a tour of Canada because in 2008 those were my three favorite bands at the time.
Even though it’s been 6 years since Midori broke up I felt maybe I could talk Mariko Goto into reforming Midori even if it were just for NMFT10. And I would have given Midori an extra $10,000 to make it happen.
I had this idea a couple years ago and when MOTFD got back together again I felt maybe there would be a chance for Midori to do the same.
But when group_inou broke up and I found out how absurdly expensive Rin Toshite Shigure would be I gave up on the idea of asking Mariko Goto. However, they were totally open with coming to Canada before (even without a $10000 bribe) so there is a remote possibility of making this happen.
It’s probably too late now but I’m still choked at how close I was to bringing Midori to Canada before they surprisingly broke up in 2010.
There are artists and bands like
whom I’m super interested in but I haven’t actually seen perform live yet so they are on the back burner for now.
There are also young interesting bands like:
花魁少年 (Oiran Shounen)
who are a bit too raw to bring yet but I am keeping an eye on them. Shout out to Chris for bringing them to my attention!!
I really like this song by them –> 後天性のっぺらぼう (simple emo but awesome)
My friend Eric felt fulusu were one of the best bands at Fecking Bahamas vol 3. They kicked out the bassist and are now a 2-piece band (less expensive for me, yay! LOL) using pre-recorded bass. Sho Sato, the drummer, is a BEAST and one of the best young drummers around:
Since Gesu no Kiwami Otome seems less busy after the whole Enon/Becky scandal I asked Mio if there was a chance Microcosm could get back together for NMFT10. But after I broke my promise to watch Mio’s new band ayutthaya in December (I watched Kouteka Camera Girl Zwei instead) I figured Mio might be a bit pissed at me so I never bothered following up on Microcosm. LOL
There are a whole bunch of cool bands (more than I listed) that had a shot at NMFT10 but it looks like the final spot on the roster is reserved for Hyacca (26 people though?!! goddamnit!). Unless you can convince me to do otherwise and don’t care about getting shanked by Geoff.
Note: Hyacca is based out of Fukuoka. I told them I’d pay for return flights to Canada departing from Tokyo but they’ll be responsible for getting from Fukuoka to Tokyo and back. If they expect me to pay for transportation between Fukuoka and Tokyo (I’ll probably give them some money to help but not 100%) or even worse, if they expect me to pay the cost to bring the three family members tagging along then Hyacca can Fuk(uoka) off! LOL.
In that case, if Ame no Parade manage to settle the whole Osaka show non-sense in time, they might end up on the roster. Or maybe a band like AGE FACTORY… or even Koutei Camera Gal. LOL.
Three to four years ago I envisioned planning something spectacular for the 10th tour by inviting some bigger name bands. I flirted with the idea of: 凛として時雨(Rin Toshite Shigure), group_inou and Tokumaru Shugo. But group_inou went on hiatus and bands/artists like Rin Toshite Shigure, Suiyoubi no Campanella and RADWIMPS (LOL. I know one of their staff) ask for waaaaaaaay too much money along with having to pay to bring an entire entourage (e.g. manager/staff/roadie(s)/engineer +/-photographer etc). I was willing to put in a lot extra for a superstar line-up but the reality is it wouldn’t have been worth it since the price is way, way higher than even I expected and the tours are much more fun hanging out with younger, hungrier bands. (way more expensive and less fun = hell no).
Then I thought about my good friend Geoff who has helped me immensely in helping this tour grow and how much he would dig an exclusively post-punk/HC/noise line-up like:
百蚊(hyacca), otori, DEEPSLAUTER, skillkills and Qomolangma Tomato. But Qomolangma Tomato just broke up, otori can’t come in May (neither can Hyacca most likely), skillkills’ drummer is way too busy managing a studio to probably ever get more than a week off from work and when I think about it despite how awesome it would be to go full-on underground punk/HC I don’t want to alienate a large chunk of fans who might find such a line-up too abrasive.
So I decided not to go for a ‘big name’ indie line-up, a completely hardcore/noise line-up or even an all-star cast of NMFT alums. Instead, I’m inviting four great acts that aren’t that well known (at all!) but are guaranteed to kick as much ass as any of the bands I have brought to Canada in the past. Plus I’m going to ask for some input from you guys to round out the line-up with a 5th band/artist.
Here are four of the five acts:
1. The Taupe
The Taupe had been on my radar for a while with friends on twitter lauding them for putting on one of the craziest, LOUDEST and most awe-inspiring shows around. Along with Hitsuji Bungaku, then were invited to play the Rookie Stage at Fuji Rock Festival last year. So even though The Taupe are fairly unknown (just 804 followers on twitter) they’ve already been recognized as one of the best up and coming bands by the organizers of Japan’s best music festival.
Their music is mostly psychedelic post-punk with similarities to Hyacca. Not as fast or with as much punk energy but lots of unusual sonic textures where the music just envelopes you with its breathtakingly odd yet beautiful tones and dynamics. And they are better than almost any band at going from soft and melodic to ear-shatteringly LOUD in a heartbeat.
They also surprise you with their versatility as with this song “Fiction”:
2. 指先ノハク (Yubisaki no haku)
In Tokyo I have a group of friends I always see at shows featuring female bands like Akai Koen, Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu, Hitsuji Bungaku and Regal Lily. And the band they like the most by far is Yubisaki no Haku. I had tried really hard to like Yubisaki no Haku’s music for the past 3-4 years but for some reason their music never grabbed me like the other aforementioned female bands. I actually fell asleep standing watching one of their shows but jet lag might have played a small part in that. It seemed to me they were in the underground scene but aiming for the mainstream and they tried to force their music into sounding emotional but without putting any real soul into their compositions. I also just assumed my friends adore Yubisaki the most because they are arguably the most attractive female band in the underground scene (See! I am all about the music not the looks. LOL)
However, I don’t know what happened but within the past year Yubisaki have made a number of small tweaks and the accumulation of those have in my mind made them into a completely different band that I think rules. Obviously my friends will argue that they’ve always been this good and I was just too dumb to notice.
tricot fans might complain that Yubisaki are biting tricot’s style hard but Yubisaki have been around longer than tricot and they’ve always had a prog rock element to their music. However, I do agree that tricot may have influenced Yubisaki into taking a more serious tone and technical approach to the music than they already did in the past. Yubisaki and tricot are good friends and they recently played a two-man show together at Shimokita Shelter that I would have given my left testicle to have seen (no not really but I would have planned a trip around that show had I known earlier).
Their latest ep “Full Range” is one of my favorite releases of 2016 and I’m happy to tell my friends I’ve finally come to my senses and wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity to brink Yubisaki no Haku to Canada.
3. bakyun the everyday
I am bringing bakyun the everyday to Canada mainly because the guitar/vocal duo of Nobumi Nanamure and Yuji Ino are two really good friends of mine. Seriously, that is the primary reason. Because I think it would be cool to bring them to Canada and just hang out with them.
Me and my friends Eric and Sania went to watch a band called しゃっく play at Shimokitazawa ERA two years ago. After しゃっく’s set, we went to go get drinks and snacks at the LAWSON conbini with members of しゃっく and that’s where we met Nobumi and Yuji. They mentioned they were in a band called bakyun the everyday and I said (in Japanese) “No fucking way! I’ve actually been meaning to see your band play live since I thought your songs on soundcloud are pretty cool.” And then when I mentioned I was planning to leave ERA and go to nearby BASEMENT BAR to see the peggies and OWARIKARA, she said she was thinking of doing the same and asked if Eric, Sania and I already had tickets. When I said no, she texted the peggies’ manager and got all of us into the show for free.
So instantly we became pretty good friends but it was a few months before I actually got a chance to watch bakyun the everyday play live. I had listened to their CD and liked it but watching them live the first time I was COMPLETELY. BLOWN. AWAY!! Mostly because they play way louder and faster than they do on CD. Going in to the show I was planning on cheering them on regardless of how good or bad they were but it was a pleasant surprise to see they were incredibly badass.
Right after the show, I messaged Eric: “Dude! bakyun the everyday are actually fucking AWESOME live. Maybe not to the point I’d bring them to Canada but they were surprisingly good!”
And the more I saw them, the more I liked them but I always felt that maybe it’s just me and the fact that Nobumi, Ino and I are friends had biased my decision.
Then a few months later it was Eric’s first time to watch bakyun the everyday at a tiny livehouse where he was basically the only audience member other than the other bands playing. I had to go to different shows to watch Regal Lily and Toranoko Rammy who were under consideration for NMFT8. And while I’m watching Toranoko Rammy Eric messages me: “HOOOOOOOLY SHIT! bakyun the everyday are fucking amazing!!!!”
So that made me feel happy because it’s not just me. There’s at least one other person with great taste in music that thinks bakyun are awesome.
bakyun the everyday play melodic punk. They aren’t elite musicians and Nobumi will never be accused of having perfect pitch. In fact, a lot of people might cringe at her singing but I actually feel it’s the imperfections in her voice and delivery that give her singing so much character. She knows she doesn’t have the greatest voice but she gives it her all when she sings and that’s what punk is all about.
The main reason I’m bringing bakyun the everyday to Canada is because they’re good friends of mine. And after you see them perform, hopefully, you guys will agree that they’re an incredibly fun band to watch live and they’re definitely worthy of being part of the NMFT line-up!
4. ゆくえしれずつれづれ (Yukueshirezutsurezure)
Until I discovered Maison book girl I never listened to idol music. I hated how popular it was and how it took attention away from talented musicians who wrote and performed their own music.
Well idols still don’t write their own music or lyrics but at least the underground idol scene has upped the ante in terms of producers creating decent music for their female muses.
ゆくえしれずつれづれ’s “Antino未deology” was one of my favorite releases of 2016. Due to the immense popularity of BABYMETAL and the punk antics of B.I.S., idol groups with a heavy metal/hard rock sound started coming out of the woodwork. However, to me ゆくえしれずつれづれ (YSTZ) was the only group that had a great emo/HC vibe with quirkiness and intelligence to boot. Unfortunately their follow up ‘double A’ single “六落叫 / ニーチェとの戯曲” had less soul and the full album released in December is mostly generic metal fluff.
I think the producers at Codomomental realized that they’d get a much larger fanbase if they sounded less Emo/HC and more like BABYMETAL which is a shame.
Having said that, YSTZ put on a craaaaaaaaazy, energetic and intense show. And as long as they play three of the classics from their first mini-album their performance can’t miss. To be honest a lot of the craziness and energy (screamed chants, moshing, crowdsurfing) comes from the audience at YSTZ’s shows. Because of the aggressive style of the music their fans tend to be more youthful than the older dudes usually seen at idol events. They also have a greater proportion of female fans than most idol groups. YSTZ’s fans call themselves “群青” (goonjo) which is the color ‘ultramarine.’ The Gunjo are really creative in their support of YSTZ and often plan ahead all sorts of interesting things to do at the shows to make them more fun. 12-15 fans of Maison book girl came to Canada all the way from Japan to watch NMFT9. I’m gonna challenge the Gunjo to see if they can improve on that. LOL. Seriously, even if just a couple of Gunjo were to make it to Canada they’d show us how it’s done and the audience would become 10x more hype.
I have really great footage of YSTZ’s awesome performances with the crowd going ballistic but right now I’m not allowed to make these videos public as Codomomental prohibits any of YSTZ’s live footage from being shown. But I’ll be able to use portions in the teaser for NMFT10 where you can witness the YSTZ/Gunjo insanity for yourself.
So these are four of the five acts. I know Geoff, Jason (Soybomb) and some of you are shaking your heads and rolling your eyes because I’ve invited another idol group. Yeah, I’m not sure what I’m doing myself either sometimes. LOL. But having underground idol groups and punk/noise bands play together is commonplace in Japan and as long as there is enough integrity and artistic merit in the music I’ll be open-minded to inviting the occasional idol act to add a twist to and increase the variety of the line-up.
So a number of bands who were potentially going to be the fifth act had to back out. They really wanted to be part of NMFT10 but couldn’t come because of work/scheduling conflicts.
Bad news is original bassist Miyata had to quit the band due to work and family reasons. Great news is OWARIKARA’s Tsuda-san became the new bassist and HOOOOOOOLY SHIT is the new line-up absolute fire! otori will be releasing a new album soon and they totally wanted to come to Canada and showcase the new songs to their Canadian fans.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if you guys remember but NMFT7 was held in June and the reason why is because otori and PENs+ couldn’t come in May. And the situation remains the same that otori’s guitarist can’t get time off work to come in May this year either. But don’t you guys worry because I’m doing another tour in October and otori have already committed to clearing their schedule to come to Canada then.
I was actually super close to having Uchu Conbini reunite to be part of NMFT7 in 2015 but Daijiro and Yuto couldn’t convince EmiChoco to strap up the bass for one last tour. Daijiro loves Canada and I’ve been in close contact with him on bringing his next band on the NMFT tour. JYOCHO were almost part of NMFT9 but many of you probably don’t know that JYOCHO has never played a single show… ever. Not even in Japan. The singer, rionos, refuses to do any live performances which is why they couldn’t be part of NMFT9 (obviously).
Daijiro has been scrambling to find a new singer in time so that JYOCHO could play their first ever show in Canada as part of the NMFT10 tour. Daijiro thought it would be fun and an awesome publicity stunt to play their first show in Canada before Japan. But so far Daijiro hasn’t found a suitable replacement for rionos and he’s said it would be safer to wait to come to Canada in October for NMFT11.
That’s right otori and JYOCHO are basically confirmed for NMFT11!!
So I thought, CRAP! Since JYOCHO can’t do NMFT10 and neither can otori maybe a math-y band similar to JYOCHO would be good. And the band that immediately came to mind who I had been wanting to bring for a while but couldn’t because the members had army duty is a band that isn’t even Japanese. They’re from Taiwan and they’re the supremely awesome Elephant Gym who release their music in North America through Top Shelf Records
Since I was sure either otori or JYOCHO would be able to make it in May I was late in asking Elephant Gym. Their guitarist Tell replied back that they’ve heard amazing things about NMFT and would be STOKED to be part of the tour but they have a prior commitment to play an important show in Taiwan that conflicts with NMFT10. Tell said they’d absolutely love to come next year but I didn’t tell him about the tour in October yet.
Honestly, when I was emailing Elephant Gym I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about playing with the four bands already in the line-up because none of them are math/emo and they usually play those type of shows.
But how awesome would it be to have JYOCHO and Elephant Gym on the same bill in October?!! With otori!!
I’m going to email Tell back and see if Elephant Gym can make it in October instead of waiting till 2018.
校庭カメラガール (Koutei Camera Girl)
To be honest my first choice as idol group to bring for NMFT10 was actually Koutei Camera Girl Zwei.
In October, the staff of Maison book girl stayed with me at my parents’ home in Vancouver. They asked if I was going to bring another idol group to Canada after Maison book girl and I said I was considering either Yukueshirezutsurezure or Koutei Camera Girl Zwei. And they said, “Oh really?! Well that’s too bad then because tapestok records just announced that Koutei Camera Girl Zwei would be disbanding in January.” And I thought to myself “Fuck!” because I had a feeling that KCG whose music I liked but hadn’t seen live yet might be the best underground idol group around.
Then in November I got to see KCGZ perform and indeed they became my favorite idol group by far.
YSTZ arguably put on a more intense, energetic show but I loved KCG’s music so much more. And then in December, KCGZ released their final album “Night on Verse” which became my favorite release in all of 2016. The same day YSTZ released “ポスト過多ストロフィー” which I felt was their weakest effort thus far.
At first I preferred KCG’s sister act Koutei Camera Gal more because it was closer to traditional hip hop (note: I realize they’re using a Nas instrumental in the link) whereas KCGZ was EDM with rapped vocals. But more and more I started to lean towards the uniqueness of KCG Zwei because the music was much more diverse and creative and the vocal delivery wasn’t as laughably ‘thuggish.’
In a span of five weeks I got to watch KCG Zwei seven times before they broke up on January 13. Out of any band or idol group listed on this page (including otori, JYOCHO and Rin Toshite Shigure), Koutei Camera Girl Zwei became the act I wanted to bring most to Canada because their music and live show was just THAT good.
The good news (for me maybe not for Geoff) is that just last night tapestok records announced they’re forming a 3rd incarnation: 校庭カメラガールドライ (Koutei Camera Girl Drei) (note: shoutout to daze for pointing out my mistake in romanizing it as ‘dry.’ Zwei = 2; Drei = 3; Steve = Dummkopf in German)
And if the producers continue with the same quality of supremely dope beats and manage to find new members that are as charismatic and talented as KCG Zwei were then I have a feeling I might already be preparing to invite KCG Drei to Canada as early as October. (note: one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with KCG Zwei is because of warwar2me who is a huge fan of group_inou just like me and it’s depressing to know that Kouteka3 won’t have warwar in the line-up).
I love this band so much.
When Ryo decided to live in Canada for a year and put PENs+ on hiatus, Ariga decided to form his own band based on solo material he had been writing and accumulating the last couple years.
He recruited one of the dopest young drummers around in Sho Sato (from fulusu) (<--- you MUST watch his drumming) and invited his friend Ginya Kato to play bass. They started off as a 3-piece but then Ariga recruited Ino from bakyun the everyday for an unrivalled twin Jazzmaster attack. arigarnon friends were a shoe-in to be part of NMFT10. I was actually going to invite them to NMFT9 but decided to bring Hitsuji Bungaku instead. Unfortunately, Ariga starts the daily grind of office work life in April and once that happens he will never be able to get 10 days off to bring his band to Canada. I joked that I would save up money to buy the company he works for and bring arigarnon friends to Canada one day. LOL. I'm not that rich but hopefully one day Ariga lucks out and manages to get enough time to sneak off to Canada for an abridged tour.
So these are a number of bands (and idol group) that I had tried to get on the NMFT10 roster but lady luck refused to smile my way. At least, NMFT11 is looking mighty badass already.
But don’t sleep on NMFT10!!!!!! The Taupe and Yubisaki no Haku alone will have you shitting your pants and I am certain bakyun the everyday and YSTZ will surprise you with their awesomeness as well.
And oh yeah, I still have one more band to choose!!
Since this post is already way too damn long I’m going to end it here and start a new blog entry for you guys to weigh in on the possible choices for the 5th band of NMFT10.
Wait for it! (hopefully later today!)
Some great new artists and bands have been popping up with a lean towards progressive/experimental soul. Here are some bands I saw on my current trip to Tokyo and a few others I might check out in the future.
There is another relatively new Japanese band called NOT WONK that plays Ellegarden-esque pop punk. I think they are the reason I ignored WONK until recently as I mixed the two bands up. WONK’s album ‘Sphere’ is one of my favorite albums of 2016. The badassery and intensity of WONK’s live show definitely isn’t shown in any of the Youtube videos available online. The drummer is a certified BEAST. The album has a nice underground hip hop feel to it with a number of guest MC’s who also appear at WONK’s shows to freestyle over improv jams. If you like music by Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kaiyote, Nujabes, A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr then WONK might be right up your alley. Apparently their music is available on Spotify but I can’t log onto Spotify in Japan with my Canadian account. Definitely give their album ‘Sphere’ a listen and a number of you might be adjusting your ‘Best of 2016’ lists.
Not to be outdone by WONK in the weird name department is CRCK/LCKS. This is a band my friend Edwin recommended to me a while back. I saw them perform with WONK, Yoshida Yohei Group and Tam Tam at 青山月見ル君想フ a couple weeks ago and this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. CRCK/LCKS is a 5-pc band with female vocals but the saxophonist who is the leader of the group also sings with his voice distorted through vocoder effects. They’re tight musicians but maybe not at the level of a band such as Jizue at this point. I like the experimental nature and moments of intensity in their music especially live. I’m keeping an eye them as a potential NMFT candidate (same for WONK)
Guitarist Daiki Tsuneta is the mastermind behind the 4-pc band Srv.Vinci (pronounced Sah-rah-bah Vinci). He runs his own label Perimetron and also has a solo project playing experimental ambient music called Daiki Tsuneta Millennium Parade. Srv.Vinci has the talent and looks to become a massive hit in the mainstream like RADWIMPS but Tsuneta’s creative weirdness should keep them willingly grounded somewhat to the fringes similar to Rin Toshite Shigure.
Srv.Vinci are performing at SXSW 2017 and will be part of the Japan Nite tour for those who live in the US.
Yoshida Yohei Group
This is at least the 3rd time I’ve brought up Yoshida Yohei Group on this site. They’re an incredible band with amazing musicians who I probably would have invited to Canada already if they didn’t have seven members. When I last saw them they played with just six members which I guess is potentially doable but still pretty expensive for one fairly unknown band. I don’t even know how to properly describe their music but it’s a mix of prog-rock, folk, chamber pop and soul and they can be pretty fierce live during the intense moments (picture Jizue). Kuro-chan who sings back-up and plays trumpet and synthesizer is also in the following band:
I first encountered TAMTAM at Fuji Rock festival in 2012 when they had a full-on dub music sound. It was very mellow and chill as dub/reggae tends to be and to be honest I wan’t very interested at the time although I did buy their CD. Then I saw them again in 2014 and they had changed their style quite a bit. They still had dub music as it’s base but incorporated a substantial amount of post-rock/shoegaze guitar noise. However, the music seemed a bit generic to me and I still wasn’t a huge fan. Two weeks ago, I saw them for the third time and they’ve mellowed on the post-rock but adopted a jazzier, experimental style to their dub and I kind of liked it. Maybe Kuro-chan’s time with Yoshida Yohei Group has had an influence in the songwriting.
The band was originally founded by bassist Kobayashi Junet (Jittery Jackal) but he recently left the band and has been replaced by the ex-bassist of SuiseiNoboAz (damn!). TAMTAM are a pretty interesting band who aren’t afraid to constantly tweak their sound and switch gears when they write new music. And Kuro-chan is not just a pretty face on vocals. She can play a number of instruments well and especially plays a mean trumpet.
冨田ラボ (Tomita Lab)
Tomita Keichi is a revered multi-instumentalist (drums, guitar, keyboard, bass), composer, producer and mix-engineer who has written songs for a number of big-name Japanese artists. He also releases his own work under the moniker Tomita Lab where he composes pop music with a experimental/neo-soul twist and invites guest singers to provide vocals. His latest album “Superfine” includes a who’s who of vocalists from the most popular city pop bands (Suchmos, never young beach, CICADA, cero) including KOM_I of wed_camp.
I don’t really know much about this artist but she kept popping up on the right column of Youtube when I was searching videos for WONK and the other bands in this blog post. She seems like a talented singer-songwriter.
Another group introduced to me by Edwin. Apparently yahyel consists of 5 members (vocals, synth, sampler, drums, VJ). Their music is definitely interesting but don’t worry their chances are practically nil for showing up on an NMFT tour.
So these are just a few artists and bands making experimental soul +/- city pop music who have piqued my interest. But before Geoff starts freaking out, no I haven’t lost my mind and I am not considering an entire line-up of ‘weak-ass contemporary music artists’ for NMFT 10. However, I might invite one or two of these bands in the future to add an odd twist and add more variety to the line-up. WONK is especially badass and CRCK/LCKS have a nice combination of power, creativity and soul. Yoshida Yohei Group is also a superb band similar along the lines of Tokumaru Shugo and his band. And more than anything I just wanted to introduce readers to some cool, experimental soul music coming out of Japan.
Next to idol music, the most popular trend or style of music to dominate Japan’s indie music scene in recent years has been City Pop. But before I attempt to define and describe the nebulous, ass-backwards classification known as ‘City Pop’ I want to give a shout out to Eric Beyeler who came up with the alternate, better and seemingly most obvious title for this blog post: シティーポップ
That’s right. It wasn’t necessary for me to reach for derogatory wordplay on City Pop because the Japanese romanization itself is conveniently pronounced “Shitty Pop.” But I kept my original blog post title cuz I’m pho king vain like that. 😉
The title and introduction foreshadow and suggest I’m not a fan of City Pop and that assumption is unequivocally correct.
To me City Pop is bland, emasculating, innocuous and completely un-punk. But just like idol music which I generally dislike there are always exceptions to the rule (e.g. Maison book girl, Yukueshirezutsurezure, Koutei Camera Girl). I keep an open mind and there are a few bands associated with City Pop that I actually dig (somewhat).
Caveat Emptor: I will now try to explain City Pop and you’ll probably end up confused af.
First of all, in the early 80s there was a trend in Japan where more and more bands wrote music with an extremely Westernized feel incorporating acid jazz and neo-soul/R&B with an urban style and carefree mentality. This movement was coined ‘City Pop’ and it fizzled in popularity by the end of the decade.
Listen to this playlist for examples of 80’s era City Pop:
Jump ahead two decades into the 2000s and there became a revival in the popularity of City Pop. Well, actually that’s not completely true. It’s not that the style of music showcased in the playlist above became more popular but the term ‘City Pop’ was used in a new context to describe the recent surge in bands adopting a Westernized indie music ‘vibe.’ A lot of bands who were just doing their own thing with no concept of the idea of ‘City Pop’ were retroactively lumped into the new ‘City Pop’ movement. Once ‘City Pop’ became the new buzzword in the music industry’s lexicon it birthed an explosion of new bands trying to emulate this hottest trend.
The genre ‘City Pop’ in today’s context is extremely broad and vague. There’s no clear definition of what constitutes ‘City Pop’ but at the same time there seems to be a particular style and aesthetic that loosely ties the component bands together.
I say this because when I started listening to Japanese music and going to shows in Tokyo 8-9 years ago I noticed a growing trend in bands that took great pains to imitate prototypical US/UK indie bands. This disturbed me because I fell in love with Japan’s indie/underground music scene precisely because it sounded so different from the generic, ‘safe’ indie music coming out of North America.
There were amazing bands like 凛として時雨, ミドリ and Chatmonchy so why would I be interested in Japanese bands trying to be clones of Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, MGMT, CHVRCHES, Arcade Fire, Jamiroquai and Stone Roses? There was a growing list of Japanese bands that sound like they came straight off of US college radio except the lyrics were in Japanese. Bands like these were ubiquitous in North America and were of no interest to me. Instead, I gravitated to the Japanese bands making music that was more original, daring and characteristically different from what was popular in US/Canada.
It wasn’t until last year I discovered the term City Pop and that most of the bands I ignored because they seemed to mimic the ‘US college radio indie sound’ (Ogre You Asshole, Homecomings, The fin., Awesome City Club, Yogee New Waves etc) fell into this particular genre. According to whoever wrote this article for TSUTAYA Records even group_inou, Suiyoubi no Campanela and ??nisenenmondai are considered City Pop but I seriously beg to differ.
Anyhow, to me City Pop is Japanese pop music with a pronounced Western indie influence that tends to have a dreamy, chill, carefree, neo-soul aesthetic. It’s the hottest thing in Japanese indie music these days and the cutest and hottest girls are found at concerts featuring City Pop bands and not at the shows that I frequent. *sigh* hahaha. Sometimes you can tell if a band plays City Pop just by looking at their name. e.g. Awesome City Club, never young beach, Ykiki Beat, Marquee Beach Club, club’89
Helsinki Lambda Club are more straightforward pop-punk but this video by them has a city pop vibe and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re trying to crossover like シャムキャッツ did and capitalize on their city pop sounding name. LOL.
DALLJUB STEP CLUB and JABBA DA HUTT FOOTBALL CLUB = City Rap? LOL
Although I maintain City Pop sounds too derivative of Western indie music I have to admit it has developed a slight twist that gives it a distinctively Japanese sound and style. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is but it’s a relaxed, optimistic and youthful tone that gives City Pop an atmospheric quality but with more clarity and tightness than the garage-y ethereal feel of North American bands like Best Coast and Alvvays.
and three bands that are managed by my friend Manabu Kitazawa:
Yogee New Waves:
never young beach
Manabu decided to move away from post-rock and was a visionary in becoming the manager of Yogee New Waves, never young beach and D.A.N. who helped catalyze the City Pop revival. In fact he has been bugging me for years well before City Pop became the hottest trend to include Yogee New Waves in the NMFT tour. He sent me pre-release albums by all his city pop bands and invited me to their shows. I’m incredibly happy for Manabu Kitazawa since his marquee bands are three of the biggest names in City Pop at the moment. But as much as I like the guy, Manabu couldn’t talk me into bringing his bands to Canada because for the most part they aren’t too different from bands found in North America.
Now some City Pop bands I actually like include:
Their song “cider cider” is one of my favourites. It fucking RULES! But sadly, I’ve seen them live and found them overall to be a bit boring except when they play ‘cider cider’ which is my cue to geek out. LOL. My friend Sharon who saw Mistume perform recently shares a similar assessment of their live show.
Yoshida Yohei Group:
Their drummer Kyohei Takahashi was the drummer for FAR FRANCE and NMFT vol 1 alumnus Kulu Kulu Garden. <--- from 1:40 on is AWESOME. Note: Ryotaro Aoki who was the mastermind behind Kulu Kulu Garden wrote this great article on City Pop.
Yoshida Yohei Group are solid live but they have at least 7 members and since they’re signed to P-vine Records I’m sure the manager will want to come as well. There’s no way I’m bringing 8 people for just one band unless their name is NATSUMEN. 😉
And finally, one of the main reasons I’m writing this article:
雨のパレード (Ame no Parade)
As many of you know, Ame no Parade was the first band I chose to headline the line-up for NMFT7 last year. But then I had to change the tour schedule to accommodate PENs+ and otori who could only find time to come to Canada in June. I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal to change the dates six months in advance but it turns out Ame no Parade’s management already had an album release set in stone for June and they ended up not being able to participate in NMFT7.
Since last year Ame no Parade have skyrocketed in popularity and are now signed to Victor Records.
Also, since last year they have changed their style from the experimental/post-rock which made me fall in love with the band in the first place to full blown City Pop.
Even though I greatly prefer Ame no Parade’s older material, they still put on a great show and I’m reasonably close with the band and manager. They’re an up & coming ‘buzz’ band on a major label but they really, REALLY wanted to come to Canada last year and I’m sure they’d take part in NMFT 10 if I asked them.
If Ame no Parade is a band you’d like to see as part of NMFT 10 then post your approval and thoughts in the comments section. If your name is Geoff Spence or someone that doesn’t want Ame no Parade on the NMFT10 roster then please also voice your opinion. You guys can also vote for other City Pop bands but I’ll probably ignore those comments. LOL.
I am SWAMPED with shit I need to get done for the tour but I want to take a minute to explain a couple things about idol groups.
1. Checky (2-shot): A 2 shot or checky is a paid Polaroid photograph of you with an idol member. In Japan it usually costs 1000 yen ($12) to take a photo with an idol member. And $20 with the entire idol group. You might think it sucks that they resort to monetizing photographs but consider it payback for all the people who download pirated music illegally. Idols and bands don’t make much money through album sales so this is one idea the idol industry has come up with to make money in other ways.
Since the concept of charging fans for photographs is foreign to most people in Canada I’ve recommended Maison book girl’s staff to lower the price to something more reasonable like $5 (note the film for the Polaroid alone probably costs ~$2 so it’s not that exorbitant).
edit: they are charging $10 (which is still cheaper than regular prices in Japan)
Also, they can autograph/personalize it for you and you can request certain poses etc.
2. There is a standard chant that audience members yell at all idol shows.
It sounds bizarre but it goes like this:
Yossha Ikuzo! (Alright here we go!)
Here are a couple videos demonstrating (in both videos it occurs at around the 20 sec mark)
Alright I’ll add more later but that’s it for the crash course for now. Remember I’m a complete noob when it comes to idol music so people more knowledgeable can chime in in the comments section and contribute on how to make the show more fun.