Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Elephant Gym

Elephant Gym is a bass-driven, math rock band from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The band formed in 2012 and is composed of Tif on bass, Tell on guitar, and Chia-Chin on drums. Elephant Gym delivers clear and memorable bass lines, emotional guitar riffs, and melodic drumming in their mostly instrumental song production. Since 2013, Elephant Gym has started to invite singers to compose with them.

Tell and Tif are siblings. In their childhood, their mother taught them classical music into their adolescence. Later, they developed an interest in rock music, especially post rock and math rock. Tell met Tu in a high school music club and formed Elephant Gym along with Tif after discovering they all shared the same taste in music.

Elephant Gym may seem an unusual name for a band but it describes their music perfectly.  Elephant is a metaphor for their low-end bass-centric sound while gym is short for the intricate musical gymnastics characteristic of math rock.

Fans of Japanese math rock bands such as toe and JYOCHO that excel at emotional music with clean instrumentation should fall in love with Elephant Gym in a heartbeat.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Paranoid Void

paranoid void is an all-female 3-pc math rock band from Osaka.  They started off playing hard-driving, emotive post-punk similar to MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS.  In fact, guitarist Meguri was temporarily the support guitarist for MOTFD after Chiemi left.  Although paranoid void has always been a technical band, in 2015, they started dabbling in math rock and odd time signatures most likely influenced by fellow Kansai band tricot.

Most recently with the release of their latest album ‘Literary Math’ paranoid void have delved further into math rock territory and moved away from a tricot/MOTFD hybrid and developed a style of their own.

paranoid void are an awesome combination of technical chops and raw power­—beauty and the nerd and the beast, all in one.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Mass of the Fermenting Dregs

MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS (MOTFD) will become the first band to make a third appearance on the NMFT tour.  Formed in 2002 by three girls from Kobe, MOTFD perform a blend of post-punk combining beautifully melancholic vocals with ferociously powerful instrumentation. The anomaly of such a huge, powerful sound coming from an all-female band drew them a large underground following and became an important inspiration for bands such as tricot and paranoid void.

Unfortunately, after MOTFD signed with major label EMI and leaned gradually toward a more radio-friendly sound, the original drummer would quit in 2007 (replaced by Isao Yoshino) and subsequently the guitarist in 2010(replaced by Naoya Ogura of Qomolangma Tomato). MOTFD ceased all activity shortly after in 2012.

In 2015, to the delight of a legion of fans bassist and leader Natsuko Miyamoto brought life back to MOTFD and they started performing and writing new songs with Isao and Naoya returning on drums and guitar, respectively.  The hiatus did not soften MOTFD at all as they came back heavier and more badass than ever.

MOTFD returned to Canada in 2016 as part of NMFT vol 8.  They slayed audiences in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and developed a true fondness for the country and their Canadian fans.  In October, MOTFD return for the third time with their first new album in eight years.  They are dying to play their new songs for Canada and show everyone how great they sound live in beast-mode.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – UlulU

UlulU is an all-female 3-pc band with a retro or garage-rock revival sound akin to The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys.  They’re a fun band who keep the music simple but with enough jazz in the drum fills and blues in the guitars to keep things interesting.  The highlight of UlulU’s music is definitely guitarist Kayo’s beautiful, soulful and charismatic vocals.

UlulU will charm the audience with their timeless melodies, unpretentious style and occasional bursts of rock’n’roll power.

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Lee’s Palace Toronto – Hembree 2017

Hembree’s path to success is proving to be as nostalgia-inducing as it is powerful: labor away at home and in fly-by-night studios creating music you love; send your song to the local DJ (yes, on the actual radio) and have him love it so much he plays it immediately; tour and tour and tour and tour and tour; and begin to hear that song on radio stations across the country, acting as early beacons to the larger world taking notice.

Hembree are from Kansas, a state best known for not much worth talking about in a band bio, but also a beautiful place with cracks in its highly conservative foundation where creativity and ambition flourish. This is the Kansas Hembree are from. They come from families of musicians and music-shop owners, people who find the divisive politics of the state just as foreign, if more immediate, as their Coastal peers. And in the grand rock’n roll tradition Hembree are also family: Isaac Flynn (lead vocals, guitar) and Eric Davis (keyboards, synths) are brothers-in-law and high school buddies. Sadly, Garrett Childers (vocals, guitar) has to be content with the role of life-long friend and general bon vivant.

Their new EP, Had It All, arrives on the heels of Hembree’s second single “Holy Water” and its slow, simmering success. That song, released in November 2016, made it onto the Billboard Alt Radio chart (virtually unheard of for a band without a machine behind them), garnered close to one million streams, and opened the door for Hembree to perform with artists as varied as Cold War Kids and Elvis Costello. Their sound – smart, tightly constructed rock songs with stick-in-your-head hooks and soaring vocals – makes them great companions to the current crop of Alt-chart-dominating bands – like Portugal. The Man, Alt-J, Lord Huron and Royal Blood – Hembree are quickly taking their place next to.

Had It All features 4 new songs plus a re-released “Holy Water” – yes it’s that good, just listen – and showcases a sonic ambition and clarity of purpose that’s formidable. Over the last year and half the EP was recorded in Kansas City, in Isaac’s bedroom and various home studios. Working with friends that the band love and respect, in places they live and work everyday, the convivial environment shines through on these recordings: you can hear their lives in these songs. The band continued their fruitful partnership with producer Eric Hillman and the Grammy-winning mixer Joe Visciano (The Kills, Jamie XX, and Beck), with the end result being some of the best sounding guitar music being produced anywhere in the world.

 

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Lee’s Palace Toronto – King Buffalo 2017

“King Buffalo is a psychedelic trio in the classic format of bass, drums, and guitar, whose expansive and thunderous music is anything but easily definable.

Formed by three long-standing members of the blooming Rochester, NY rock scene, King Buffalo gathered in September of 2013 to start working on a new musical collaboration in a heavy rock vein. Their efforts spawned a demo release and several splits and one-offs which, coupled with their impressive live show, quickly gained them an international audience.

Nearly exactly three years after their formation, written during and out of jam sessions, (King Buffalo released Orion)… nine tracks that are texturally rich and oozing with psychedelic goodness, yet honed and driving in the next blink of an eye. Lush, shimmering melodies á la Dead Meadow and free-flowing grooves… with the full force of fuzzed-out stoner rock riffs, all coinciding organically. Impressively, King Buffalo’s focus extends beyond composition and into the technical realm; Orion was recorded entirely by the band in the very same rehearsal room that played host to the songs’ creation.” – Sludgelord

“The question of how… heavy psych upstart trio King Buffalo will follow-up their debut full-length, Orion, is answered in the form of the three-track Repeater EP. In the year-plus since the album’s first, (self-)release in 2016, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson signed to Stickman Records and oversaw an official issue of the record and have toured Stateside with All Them Witches and in Europe alongside labelmates Elder, and the EP brings three new cuts that represent the first new music they’ve produced following this productive time.

It is 24 minutes of material, and more than 13 of that resides within the opening title-track (also the longest of the set; immediate points), but in terms of flow and conveying a sense of how their progression is unfolding, Repeater feels like the first chapter in a larger story more than a standalone offering. That is to say, the vibe is more mini-album than single-song showcase for throwaways or “extras” from a recording session.

Part of that may of course owe to the fluidity in King Buffalo‘s approach overall, which was certainly a factor on Orion and just as certainly hasn’t at all been diminished by the stretches of time they’ve spent on the road, but there’s a perceptible resounding in the molten aspects of “Repeater,” “Too Little too Late” and “Centurion” that underlines the purposefulness with which King Buffalo engage such an open feel in what they do. Jamming is a crucial part of it at their foundation, but as far out as they go, their chemistry is put to use in servicing a song, even in something as vast as “Repeater” itself, which is their longest single track to-date.

I don’t know and won’t try to speculate where King Buffalo might go with their sophomore full-length when the time comes for it, how they might continue to grow, what they might push toward in terms of arrangements or execution or general sound, but Repeater finds them brimming with confidence both as individuals and as a unit, and their songwriting here hits a new level of craftsmanship that only raises one’s hopes even after such an impressive debut long-player. The question isn’t so much whether King Buffalo are prepared for their next step as it is whether their audience is ready to realize the special moment playing out in front of them.” – The Obelisk

 

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 12 – Koutei Camera Girl Drei

In 2014, Tapestok Records created a female idol rap group consisting of five members named 校庭カメラガール [Koutei Camera Girl (KCG)].  The music was produced by an eight member collective known as ALYT involving six beat-makers, one designer and lyricist–vivid jas.  Although the girls rapped, Tapestok made the distinction clear that KCG is not a hip hop group.  The girls did not write their own rhymes and the group did not even pretend to follow the tenets/elements of hip hop culture.  In fact none of the girls had any previous experience rapping nor any interest in hip hop music. Tapestok wanted to create their own style of music involving rap but otherwise something completely different from hip hop.

The name Koutei Camera Girl derives from the production team’s admiration and respect for British experimental electronic duo Autechre. (Abridged form of Koutei Camera Girl is コウテカ (Kouteka) which purposely rhymes with ‘Autechre’).  KCG’s music is rooted in electronic/house/techno but having six different track makers allows for an extensive variety in tone and style especially when they’re not afraid to incorporate other genres such as post-rock, funk and jazz.  The quality of the music is what sets KCG apart from almost all other idol groups as the attention to detail and soulfulness is akin to the production of greats such as Nujabes and Evisbeats combined with the creativity/experimentation of Flying Lotus and Autechre.  (note: don’t go by the videos on Youtube which show a completely skewed version of the more idol-esque side of KCG)

KCG has actually undergone a number of changes to the line-up.  After releasing two albums and expanding to six members, Tapestok removed the two newest members and had them form a separate, more hip-hop oriented duo known as Koutei Camera Gal.  The resulting four member line-up also changed their name to Koutei Camera Girl Zwei aka Kouteka2. (Zwei being German for the number two). In January 2017, KCG Zwei was disbanded for members’ personal reasons and to allow original member molm’o’mol to pursue a solo career unrelated to idol music as あめとかんむり (ame to kanmuri).

After Kouteka2 disbanded, Tapestok began auditioning completely new members for the third phase of KCG–Koutei Camera Girl Drei aka Kouteka3. (Yes, ‘drei’ is German for the number three).  The auditioning finished in August and KCG Drei will perform their very first shows in Canada as part of NMFT11 before their first show in Japan on Oct 28.

The members of KCG 1&2 had vivacious but very distinct personalities and singing/rapping styles that complemented each other extremely well.  Fans, especially those who don’t actually live in Japan, were quite upset when Tapestok dissolved KCG in favor of an entirely new line-up. (note: two of the members didn’t want to continue so blaming Tapestok is ridiculous).  However, given Tapestok’s amazing track record in recruiting new members (e.g. warwar2me) and forming new groups (Koutei Camera Gal and Koutei Camera Actress) it is almost guaranteed that the members of Kouteka3 will be talented, soulful and charming enough to have fans of Kouteka2 saying KoutekaWho? and jumping on the KCG3 bandwagon.

 

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