Yura Yura Teikoku, which means "the wobbling empire"
has undergone a lot of transmutations, tried on a bunch of different
hats, digested and reconfigured quite the laundry list of influences,
and has achieved a legacy that expertly flirts with the boundary
between "underground and underappreciated" and "total legend".
This recording of one of their shows from 2003, near the apex of their
fame, showcases the organic authenticity of their diverse sound. The
opener is a feedback-saturated heavy psych anthem with a measured
build-up of noise, which bleeds into the vaguely punk second track.
When I played the fourth track, "NA!!!," an infectious 11-minute happiness
seizure of guitar rock, on my show, the phones lit up, and everyone wanted
to know about the "killer jam". Track 5 is sparse and wistful, and sounds just
like Big Star. More accessible than Boredoms, more exhilarating and
adventurous than Les Rallizes Denudes, YYT brings a lot of originality and heart
to the ever-expanding zeitgeist of "Japanese psych-rock," which, at this
point, is a pretty useless label. Also, people used to get really freaked out
about the lead singer's perpetually shaven eyebrows, but then they kind
of came to embrace his bald countenance. There's something kind of
inspirational about that, right?