Tokyo Music Scene: New Releases June 2023


We’re back with your monthly instalment of new music from Japan and, if you don’t mind your music a little left of center, you’re in luck! From an experimental reimagining courtesy of ermhoi to an avante garde outing from saccharin and instrumental intensity from Toruko-Ishi, we’ve rounded up an eclectic mix of our favorite tracks from the last 30 rainy days of June. With summer festivals and tours just around the corner, there’s plenty of options to check out most of these artists live so head to our events section for dates and ticket info. Our full June playlist is available here and our special mentions for the month below.

Yurufuwa Gang – On The Ground

“On The Ground” is the lead single from Yurufuwa Gang’s upcoming fourth album JOURNEY. Since our last mention of the duo in 2021, they’ve continued their assault on Tokyo’s hip hop scene with the release of their 19-track album “Gama” in June last year along with a five-show release tour across the country including a mini festival outside Tokyo with a huge lineup of supporting artists and Japanese hip-hop elite. The new track sees long-time collaborator, Automatic, back on production duties, continuing to mix a range of eclectic influences, experimenting with middle-eastern inspired rhythms and instrumentation. 

Toruko-Ishi – Hotchkiss

After doing the rounds in Tokyo’s underground scene for the past 10 years or so, instrumental rock outfit Toruko-Ishi surprised fans with the release of their first full-length album in late June. This collection of tracks, many of which were previously available only as SoundCloud demos or rehearsal session recordings, marks a new incarnation of the band who reformed with an updated rhythm section in 2021 after a two-year hiatus. The recording breathes new life into tracks amassed over a decade-long period, as well as introducing the newly-written track, “Hotchkiss.” The new track draws on the band’s shared influences of post punk and heavy rock, simultaneously exhibiting tight, melodic restraint and blistering, rhythm-driven intensity. Keep an eye out for an album release party to be announced in the coming months. 

saccharin – はないちもんめ

June saw the release of saccharin’s second single of the year, はないちもんめ (hanaichimonme), continuing his steady string of diverse solo work. Drummer for artists such as TENDRE, LUCKY TAPES, The fin. and Michael Kaneko, Taiki Matsuura started saccharin in 2021 as “a place for the songs he began to compose before the pandemic.” Since then, the project has continued to evolve, with the release of an eight-track album in the middle of last year and every indication of more to look forward to in the coming months. The new track, a critical commentary on capitalism, is based on the children’s game of the same name, and the first saccharin track to be released without Matsuura on drums. saccharin will be performing live at his semi-regular event 歌謡激情 (Kayo Gekijo) at 東京 ダンスホール新世紀 (Tokyo Dance Hall New Century) on August 18 with a huge lineup of supporting artists such as Metropolis favorites TENDERE and AAAMYYY. 

LAUSBUB – Michi-tono-Sogu

LAUSBUB is a newwave/techno pop group from Sapporo, formed in 2020 by Riko Iwai and Mei Takahashi who were high school students at the time. The suspension of school music club activities due to the pandemic saw the two start their own electronic project and since then they’ve exploded to prominence on the national electronic scene with 2021’s “Telefone” in particular  blowing up on digital music platforms. The new track sees the pair coming into their own with Iwai further pushing the limits of her beat making abilities and Takahashi’s tight and measured vocal performance driving the track forward. Keep an eye out for live performances and catch the pair on their new radio program “Far East Disco” on AIR-G’ (FM Hokkaido 80.4), if you’re based in Hokkaido. 

ermhoi – Strenuous Blur

An exercise in “confronting her past self,” multi-talented solo artist and member of groups such as BLACK BOBOI and MILLENIUM PARADE, ermhoi, released the experimental album Junebug Rhapsody this month. Released via Salvaged Tapes, a conceptual label that releases music under an annual theme each year, the album is a re-imagining of ermhoi’s debut 2015 album Junior Refugee. The track “Strenuous Blur,” a reinterpretation of 2015’s “Glamorous R,” combines sonic elements from the original into a lush, non-linear soundscape made possible by an additional 8 years of creative experience and experimentation. 

never young beach – らりらリらん

Just in time for summer, indie rock mainstays, never young beach, released their fifth album this June. Brimming with the kind of upbeat summer-festival vibes the band have become known for, the new album, Arigatou, comes just over four years since their previous full-length release, and features a reworking of the 2020 track “Ra Ra Ra” as well as recent singles and entirely new tracks. The video for the  jaunty, 60’s folk and rock n roll-inspired “Rarirariran” sees the band reunite with former collaborator Dai Sato for an afternoon of baseball and bento by the river. Never young beach will embark on an extended tour of the country from September until mid December.