October 1st, 2023


So, everyone likes music? Right? Well, not quite. My father has never been that interested in music of any type and he grew up in the golden age of rock and roll. My son seems to have very little interest in music, though he’s just beginning his teenage years so that could change. I’ve known others who seemed to have little interest in music. I, personally, have no talent whatsoever in making music – not a farting joke.

I was thinking about music interest recently because of my sudden fascination with a band during the COVID lockdown. I won’t say the band’s name quite yet. Instead I’d like to discuss the history of my musical interests, first.

In my pre-teen years I was subjected to a lot of CHUM AM radio station. They were primarily a pop station, though they played quite a bit of rock and roll and even ventured into funk, blues and disco. In those days you had to listen to whatever music your parents played and my mom had the radio set to CHUM almost constantly. The odd times she didn’t, she had LPs on and we ended up listening to Elvis, the Beatles, Chubby Checker, Simon and Garfunkel, and you can guess at the other artists. Fortunately, I think this exposure to music only improved my musical tastes as I grew older.

When the time came for me to have enough money to buy my own records I went out and purchased an album by a band called Diesel. I was obsessed with the guitar on Sausalito Summernights. As time passed my tastes drifted into more stereotypical tastes for a white teenage boy in Toronto in the 1980s. Rock music became my focus, though I always had an appreciation for some more classical music. ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Yes, April Wine, Lighthouse, The Guess Who, Queen, Styx, Bryan Adams and their like were on one side, while I still enjoyed Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Mozart, David Bowie, The Moody Blues and many others. Though CHUM AM radio was poison to me. Instead I found their FM version, and when it became too pop-oriented I started listening to Q107.

It was in grade twelve or thirteen that I started listening to Rush, around the same time I became aware of heavy metal and (metal) hair bands. My musical interests broadened as I matured and as friends came and went in my life, but Rush was destined to stay as my primary musical interest for a long time. I enjoyed their first few albums, hard rock to heavy metal that upset your parents but where the lyrics often had deeper underlying meanings that you could discuss with your pals. A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres fit into this category, with the art-rock musical experimentation and lyrics that spoke of deeper philosophical topics.

Of course, like many other young listeners of Rush, I was upset at the band’s selling out with Signals and later albums. It was only when I fully matured that I recognized the gradual transition of musical styles the band had undergone from album to album, forming a continuum of musical styles and themes that wasn’t a sellout. It was, in fact, a maturing. They could still belt out hard rock songs, but their own musical interest had grown and their fans were left to follow suit or label them sellouts.

However, I’ve only found the odd new band of interest since that period. The Travelling Willburys caught my interest. I really enjoyed one of Garbarge’s albums. Nirvana and then the Foo Fighters were quite enjoyable. The Tragically Hip is a group whose music I love. And there were others that came out of nowhere and I considered worthy enough to spend money on an LP, then later a CD. For the most part though, since the end of my twenties I haven’t found many new bands or artists that caught my attention.

The internet age changed little. Yes, artists could upload their new music to Youtube for everyone to access for free, but there wasn’t much there that I considered worth spending money on. Everyone’s tastes are different, though.

Over the last dozen years I have gone through Youtube looking for new musicians that I might like enough to purchase their music and there have been very few. It’s not that they’re all unskilled. The songs just don’t grab me. Music isn’t worse than it once was – a mere generational prejudice. There are bad new songs and artists, but there are a lot more good ones. In fact, I would venture to say that are far more highly-skilled musical artists now than there were in my youth.

There was one “new band” that caught my attention. Band Maid.

At first, I saw the video thumbnail and thought: “ah, typical attempt to sell music by putting some young ladies in sexy attire”. In fact, I passed by a lot of their videos without a second thought. Then I started reading comments on other musical videos. People were mentioning Band Maid as a good rock band. I gave them a shot, watched a video (it might have been Domination) and was astonished. Then, I watched another and another. These ladies were not a fake band, nor a flash in the pan. They were a group of talented rock musicians who form a very cohesive unit.

There is very little English in most of their songs. However, you can find English versions of their lyrics online, and sometimes in the Youtube videos. Their lyrics are rich and cover a broad range of topics, and that’s the English translation! What must they be like in the original Japanese? Their music varies broadly on every album that I’ve yet listened to (I’ve bought five of their albums so far). I’ve checked out some of the other, similar bands and just not been as impressed.

If you’re into rock music, or we share similar general musical tastes, then it would be worth your while to give these ladies a chance. I find some of their songs remind me of Rush, and some remind me of other musicians of rock from decades gone by. However, the music is intricate, busy, it flows, is played with skill, and somehow seems to match the lyrics or lyrical theme of the song. I find when I listen to western rock music (post Band Maid) that I often encounter situations where songs I really enjoy seem a little simplistic.

Chris Kalyta