NA.MA.SHI.BI.RE.NA.MA.ME.ME.I -Yura Yura Teikoku (Mesh-Key/Bop! Records)
If variety is the spice of life, Yura Yura Teikoku is series of culinary dishes laden with the most exotic and eclectic flavours procured from the contemporary musical globe.  At one moment it’s a psychedelic explosion of raw chilli and jalipeno peppers, the next roast beef and potatoes rock’n’roll with a delectable organic mint sauce, some raw salmon with a nuclear strength wasabi dip that’ll raise the hairs on the back of your neck and rip the lining from your stomach, all topped off with a sweet and enticing vanilla slice served with strawberries and cream.

Yura Yura Teikoku is somewhat of a cultural phenomena in the band’s native Japan, due in no small part to the intense, and eclectic, nature of its live show.  "" – presumably the name has some meaning and relevance – gives a small, but eminently worthwhile glimpse into Yura Yura’s world.  Recorded live on 30 May 2003, this is a dazzling, almost freakish performance, the only constant of which is its infinite variability.

Yura Yura transcend genre, style and musical taxonomy.  In "Song of the Empty Child" the band unleashes an unrelenting barrage of white noise uncovered from the Stooges and Velvet Underground time capsule, the monotonous beat in the background providing just enough discipline to transform the enveloping chaos into a transfixing psychedelic drone.  In "My Friend In A Band and Unchain Your Heart", Yura Yura are are in Vegas mode, invoking the aural imagery of Wayne Newton, Julio Igleisias and fat Elvis in purple sequined jump suits.  In "Who Am I Again" and "Nai!!" the band churns out perfectly weighted power pop, the form the stuff of 60s garage excellence, the latter to the ground with a series of hooks so sharp you almost hear the reminants of the band’s Vegas crooning falling to the floor.  And just for good measure there’s some Destroyer-era Kiss power rock brilliance in "3 Night Creatures".

Like any half-baked metaphor, the food reference only goes so far to explain the attraction of Yura Yura Teikoku.  If you were served this album in culinary form, you’d probably run scared to the closest Souvlaki shop for some honest street fare.  But when you’re confronted by Yura Yura Teikoku you’re transfixed, never quite sure what’s going to be served next, but always confident it’s going to be something to behold. - Patrick Emery