Lil Music Reviews: Kanye West, TRAU CHOI, and Ultrademon

Alan Fearns / KSUA Music Director


Cool emo band from Massachusetts.  Dabbles in post-rock territory during the opener (“INTRO”) with the slow guitars, but the pummeling drums make it quickly cathartic.  The bass is very present and zipping guitar lines occasionally recall Mogwai (these post-rock giants from Scotland).

“SHADE” is like if Tiger’s Jaw added a three somewhere in their name and became really husky in their vox and low frequencies.  TRAU CHOI is definitely passionate, but I can’t help but think of early 2000s post-grunge when I hear the singer (3 Doors Down, Three Days Grace, etc.).  Harmonies help, but also aid them in sounding generic.

They get real mathy in “SPIN,” and the tone on the distorted guitar is crispy.  The lyrics are heartfelt, saying “vertigo-never let you go,” or maybe they’re crazy, I can’t tell anymore.  There is one f-bomb, thus would not be safe outside of safe harbor hours.  There a whole lot of “whoa-ohs” too if you’re into that sort of thing.

In “CELLAR” the vocals are just toned down enough from excess without being stale. It’s a really fine balance they’ve managed.  The bass laden melodies are heavenly, and the guitar lines are fine.  TRAU CHOI’s drummer (Joe?) is also skilled and subtle electronics are a nice touch.

Ultrademon – “Redux”

Fifth album and the first that is a free download.  “Yr So Wet” kicks in at 140 bpm exchanging vocal samples and piano chords in its pattern sequences.  Chimes, bubbles and mists spray their way into the mix to dance in tropical synchronization.  Waterfall piano rolls and healthy panning make it an excellent way to say seapunk has not gone anywhere in the last three years but forward.

“Encore” treats us the same way.  Intricate dance lines and morphing synths make us feel neither in past nor future.  The “uh” vocal followed by the “yeah” is impossible to disagree with.   Clap ya hands now y’all.

“Bahrain” is a really fun track. It winds up into a drop around the 1:11 mark.  We get taken under a watery marimba medley, with some brisk screams.  Lush harmonies glide across in a building nascar sample and bass flatulence drop.

“Just Fine” is a track that escalates continuously.  Very bubbly and layered.

“Weedtangclan” has a sped up Amen break and club vocals with synthesizer chords.  Mid way through is a monologue that sounds like (the) RZA.

“1996” is a re-release from Ultrademon’s debut album “Seapunk“.  Instead of the call and refrain duet sample, he inserts much more subtle vocal samples that say “you” and a Rustie-like arp.  Which is interesting given that Rustie’s latest “EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE” features dolphin samples.

Kanye West – “The Life of Pablo” @ YEEZY SEASON 3

TLOP is off to really great start with “Ultra Light Beams.  It has Samoria and Natalie Green with a gospel verse, followed by Kanye and The-Dream singing about a “God Dream” (-_-).  Kelly Price has a really momentous section that is a must hear.  Finally, Chance the Rapper appears… and damn.  The man switches flow over piano swells.  Lastly, Kirk Franklin enters and preaches.

“Famous” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1 & 2” feature some of Kanye’s worst lyrics.  Guy has got to stop being misogynistic in his lyrics if he wants to be taken serious about addressing any social issue.  Thankfully Rihanna and Desiigner* save the song vocally.


(photo from @kanyewest)

Much like the album art, Kanye is constantly switching his focus between family embrace and self-indulgence.  The Lyrics from Pt. 2 address being too busy to make time for his wife, Kim Kardashian, and how he acts like his father.

“Feedback” opens with a tweaked flute that sounds like a mad dial tone.  His flow is actually quite flawless here.  He bends to the will of the beat, but has his spine in tact.  “I been out of my mind, a long time./  I be saying how I feel at the wrong time./ Money come when you want, but I’m on time.

This one is about Kanye waking up to himself, he is always addressing himself from an outward perspective.  It has a lot of remnant of “Yeezus” (West’s last album) such as the overall feedbacking of the instrumentation and the sudden changes in the song.  This particular time however, it is like a show of Oprah where he is dishing out fur coats, jets, and booties.

Then the flute starts to blow out.  A string slings its way in with Kanye making growls along a bass thud.  The seemingly lack of infrastructure makes it feel far in avant-garde field.  Hi-hats trigger with a hooting chant to bring it back into full swing.  Finally, it peters out and then comes one of Kanye’s best rants, because its not really a rant.  Its actually a speech.  About himself, but tongue-in-cheek.

After a nice testimony in “Low Lights”, we get bitter Kanye in “Highlights” talking about using a go-pro on his pelvis and stirs up nonsense surrounding wife’s former partner.  He goes full wolf-mode, and talks about a bunch of sex.

“I Love Kanye” plays a second time during this particular live stream.  The crowd goes wild all over again.

Conscious Kanye returns with “FML”, a really beautiful song about how he would give up his life for his kids.  It features the Weeknd, and a better climax than on “Fade” (from the final album version).  “Real Friends” was a single, along with “Facts”, “30 Hours”, and a snippet of “No More Parties in LA”.  Trust issues are never fun, and especially true when they lie in family (#fam).  “Wolves” has some Cashmere Cat production and Vic Mensa is replaced by Frank Ocean.

Watch the show here:

*Sample from “Panda

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