“Have you heard of a Malaysian band called Kaya?” was the message I received one morning, to which I replied, “Yessir, I have!”. In fact, just a month earlier I received an invite for their album launch – which I very stupidly missed because of reasons. “Have you listened to their album?” was the next question. “It’s f**king good! Drop by, I have a copy for you.” So that’s just what I did.
Now, despite being a fan of the local live band scene, I’ve actually never caught these guys on stage before. I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I knew of them at that point – the name was open to interpretation, either as that favourite local bread spread, being “rich” or something else which I’m more familiar with. I decided to believe it was the latter.
I knew the band had five members, though I only vaguely recognised David Harding (the bassist) and I also knew this was the debut album. I also heard from friends who have seen them live that they’re “one heck of an entertaining band” and since their influences included the likes of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Bob Marley, I needed no further convincing to slap that CD in.
I was stuck in traffic when I decided to do this, which can be risky because I’m often more annoyed than I usually am on Malaysian roads on a rainy day. I won’t lie, but when the first funky song titled ‘Artsie-Fartsie Tattie’ came on, I did a double take and had to make sure it was the CD player that was playing and not my random selection of erm… legally obtained mix-up of international music on my USB. Nope, this was them alright. And for the next 20 minutes plus, I paid absolutely no attention to the traffic thanks to the album. In fact, towards the end of the album, I secretly wished there was more traffic so I could listen to the album again. Yes, it’s that damn good.
The second song, ‘Be Soul’ reminded me a little of AC/DC and was a clear indication of how impressive Kaya’s vocalist is. ‘Light A Candle Up’ was just what I needed in a bluesy song with its harmonica, backing vocals and riffs and just as I was wondering whether or not there was a Reggae track somewhere in the album, ‘So Right’ came on to satisfy that itch. It just ticked off all the elements that I look for in a Reggae song – you know, the kind of song you’d imagine being played in a Reggae bar on a beach somewhere that just puts a smile on your face and elevates your spirits. At this point, I had to once again, just to be completely sure check that this was indeed the CD that was handed to me of a local band. The two remaining tracks on the album, ‘Trusted A Hole’ and ‘Ello Stiletto’ needless to say were on point as well.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about the album was that these guys weren’t trying to be anything else but themselves. You can tell they were having fun putting this album together and that feeling is passed on to listeners as well. With just six songs, they’ve successfully flaunted their versatility and I believe I believe this album caters to people from all walks of life. There’s something to enjoy regardless of your preferred genre. It’s the kind of album that you’d wanna introduce to your friends and potentially say things like, “Guys, guys. Listen to this song. Okay? Done? Now would you believe me if I told you it was by a local band?!” It’s the kind of album that you could so very easily listen to from the start to end without cringing or skipping through any track. It’s the kind of album that makes you go, “F**k! Why are there only 6 songs?! I need more, dammit!”
But more importantly, it’s just the kind of album that the local music industry needs – one that proves something I’ve said and believed in constantly. Malaysia has no shortage of talent when it comes to music. ‘On Toast’ is the whole effing package and I suggest you listen to it right now.
This article was originally published on RojakDaily.