On their fourth studio album, The Garden absolutely excel at what they have always done best—getting weird as fuck.
Kiss My Super Bowl Ring, the fourth studio album by Orange County duo The Garden, sees them build upon their weirdo-art punk sound to create their most adventurous and impressive output yet. Following up 2018’s Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, which saw the duo of Wyatt and Fletcher Shears adopt jester aesthetics, the two have now enlisted the help of what can only be described as green goblins. Whether you credit the green goblins or natural artistic progression for this is up to your discretion, but there is no doubt The Garden have never embodied their own artistic vision of “vada vada” as well as they do on Kiss My Super Bowl Ring.
From The Garden’s website, “Vada Vada is a term that represents total freedom of expression without boundaries or guidelines of any sort.” If we are discussing the boundaries of Kiss My Super Bowl Ring, let’s be very clear—there are none. The album starts out rather tame for the duo with lead single, “Clench to Stay Awake”, which—save for a mildly chaotic midsection—describes feelings of helplessness and subsequent struggles to cope over light instrumentation. From there, Kiss My Super Bowl Ring quickly transforms into the most impressive musical clusterfuck you might ever hear, in which The Garden seemingly know nothing and everything at once.
Synth-heavy, bass-heavy, loaded with screams, Kiss My Super Bowl Ring thrives off chaos and unpredictability, shifting from one extreme to another at a moment’s notice. Perhaps the biggest surprise, and a shining example of the duo’s unpredictability, is the extent to which they have incorporated more aspects of electronic music to their already eclectic sound. Littered throughout the track list, most notably “Sneaky Devil” and “Please, Fuck Off”, you can find instances where the song evolves into or simply is based around breakbeats and drum ‘n’ bass. The duo’s willingness to experiment has always been their calling card, and they appear to have mastered it on Kiss My Super Bowl Ring by injecting electronic music into their musical backbone of fiery and chaotic punk.
Adé Hakim, (AKA Sixpress) is a Bronx creative, who has been creating his own sound alongside sLUms the NYC hip-hop collective for some time now. He was credited with the production on Earl Sweatshirt’s recently released single “Nowhere2go” and is at the forefront of a new generation of artists in NYC. He stopped by the WKDU station on April 20th for a short on-air playlist of beats themed “Black History Month Lives On”, and a conversation to discuss what he’s been up to, the modern renaissance, and his latest project: On to Better Things, along with much more. After our interview, Adé went on to play a prodigious set with fellow New York producer Sporting Life at Big Mama’s warehouse to an audience of fans he was quick to unify.
Hot Flash Heat Wave continued their very first tour as headliners at Everybody Hits! last Tuesday, March 5th. After being led to the upstairs “green room,” I got the chance to speak with them about touring, good food, garage rock, and their new EP, Mood Ring.
Before their own tour and growing popularity, Hot Flash Heat Wave started as many other bands do: in a garage. The band is made up of Adam Abildgaard, Ted Davis, Nick Duffy, and newest addition (who plays his guitar upside down), Jared Johnson. Adam, Ted and Nick all met in high school and played with the garage scene in the Davis California area, a town just west of Sacramento. Abildgaard explained “It’s all you’ve got when you’re 16. It was great,” and incredibly true and challenging fact.
The DIY scene, as the bandmates explained, allowed them to create their own platform for themselves and their friends in a time when they were too young to play real venues. Not fitting into the normal scene at their high school led to an interest in going to garage shows to meet other people who didn’t feel as though they fit in either. The scene was an odd, yet close-knit group of people who felt ironically close with other outcasts.
From bunkers on the beach of the Secret Show Society to various house venues, Hot Flash Heat Wave found their popularity was growing. They said they miss playing DIY shows, treasuring that part of their lives they had, calling it “magical.” The band said they felt as though in that time, people truly appreciated the music they were seeing because of the closeness of the audience and the band.
Because it was their first time ever headlining, Hot Flash Heat Wave said the experience of touring was very different… both stressful and cool. Earlier this year, they opened for The Frights and toured alongside the surf-punk band. They explained that there is much more inspiration to perform for people who are actually showing up to see your own band. This is different from being an opener or supporting band, they said, because they felt as though they were trying to “win over” the audience with the first impression of performing as an opener.
Touring on the East Coast seemed like a different country to the bandmates, who appreciated “all the bricks,” in Philadelphia. Through touring, Hot Flash Heat Wave has discovered that every area of America is cool in its own way and have found that there is an incredible amount of like-minded people. This was proven especially in Florida when the band was expecting a low-energy scene but were surprised to perform for kids that were going absolutely crazy for their music.
With exposure to so many different places comes exposure to endless restaurants and food stops. Some of their favorites included Voodoo Donuts, and an extremely hospitable, on-the-house korean joint in Austin TX. The Keyboardist and guitarist, Jarred Johnson, went on about this restaurant in specific, which is located next door to the well-known venue Barracuda’s. He said after the workers refused payment and tip, he felt as though someone had “Punched (him) in the heart.” As for Philadelphia, singer and guitarist/ singer, Ted Davis, was disappointed when he received a philly cheese steak that was missing the cheese…. He forgot to say “with,” I am assuming, a critical use of philly slang.
As of right now, Hot Flash Heat Wave is re-inventing their sound, which can be heard in their newest EP, Mood Ring, which is “lyrically more personal.” Their new music, as explained by Adam, is a more psychedelic take on their west-coast surf style. He went on to list a few other influences which included 80s synth, R&B, 70s, and soul. This is different from their last album, Soaked, which they explained as having a more 60s/ Beatles-esque sound.
If you have listened to their music, one would notice how unique each album is from the others, but the Hot Flash Heat Wave sound still exists. They explained how it is fun to reinvent their sound and how there shouldn’t be any rules when making new music. “It gets stale if we do it over and over again,” Adam said.
The band was also able to do an AudioTree session. They explained they were very nervous about the session, as they did not know the seriousness of the opportunity prior to accepting the offer. It was explained as extremely comprehensive but was still a really cool experience.
The music videos Hot Flash Heat Wave releases are endlessly artistic and visually stimulating. When asked about the process of such videos, drummer Nick Duffy explained that they partnered up with Boredom, a company that helped them make the trippy, cartoon video for Raindrop as well as the retro, chaotic Gutter Girl video. He went on to describe how Raindrop, specifically, was a large production that included over 30 artists and custom costumes. Ironically, one of their more successful videos, Glo Ride, was filmed all by the band on an old camera and the vision for this video was simply wanting to be “emo cowboys.” The singer and guitarist, Adam, was especially excited about the Glo Ride video because he was able to ride a horse for the first time, exclaiming “It’s about damn time. Get me on a Horse!”
With the success of their latest EP and tour, Duffy said to “keep your eyes peeled,” for a new record that will hopefully be on the way this year, following Mood Ring.
After the interview with the three extremely friendly, passionate bandmates, the show began with Field Trip and Early Eyes, two incredibly energetic and charismatic bands. The venue, Everybody Hits! Was lit up with christmas lights for a makeshift stage, as there was no actual stage, allowing the bands and audience to be right up close and personal with each other. Hot Flash Heat Wave particularly took advantage of this and took the mic into the crowd to dance with the kids who came to see them.
An intimate show came to an end when the band did two encores and they jokingly refused to do “the whole walking off and coming back on again thing.” Hot Flash Heat Wave proved their spot as headliners with an absolutely kick-ass show, following the interview which showed me the incredible process of getting out of the garage and headlining your own tour.
I had the pleasure of chopping it up with local independent rapper Wes Phili on how he’s been, where he’s been, and what went into his debut album Black Flower.
First of all, how old are you, tell me about where you are from, and what kind of influence where you are from has had on your music.
26, from North Philly. Grew up seeing both sides of the fence. Divorced parents; Mother, a lawyer who would eventually move to a more quiet area just outside of Philly. Father, a working man living in one of North Philly`s several hoods. My music comes from my experiences growing up in both, along with having lived in NYC in my later teens & early 20s. Philly is an MC`s mecca…long history of battle rap and great lyricists just like its brother NYC. Reppin Philly is askin for that torch…and by default you can’t be weak on a mic if you wanna carry that…bein nice at ya craft is showin respect to those that paved the way for you.
What kind of hip-hop scene, if any, were you exposed to growing up?
“The Infamous” by Mobb Deep was the first album I ever owned. That was my introduction to rap as a kid…and I was hooked. From there, I then moved on to albums like “Illmatic”, “Enter the 36 Chambers”, “OB4CL”….and the rest was history.
You said recently you are in Japan for the time being, tell me a little bit about what you’re up to, and what the change has been like.
I came out here just for a change of scenery to help me reflect on my life and figure out what I really wanted to do with it. Felt like I was in a bubble back home, and I needed to get outta that and find a place of solitude away from everything familiar, where I could breathe and think clearly. Still a working man, but my free time is almost entirely spent on perfecting my craft. The goal being to live completely off my music soon.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe your style?
Eclectic… I`m a little a bit of everything and future releases will reflect that.
Who do you listen to music-wise? and who has inspired you? Hip hop related or not.
I listen to anything and everything. If it sounds good, I`ll listen to it; regardless of genre. Recently though, my playlist has been filled with a lot of Roc Marciano, Mick Jenkins, Mach Hommy, (Illmatic – I Am… era) Nas, Lupe Fiasco, and Black Thought. All of these MCs have elite pens, and you can learn something different from listening to each. No matter how much I improve, I`ll always be a student of the game.
You said it took about a year to complete Black Flower. When you first started did you intend for it to take that long?
Absolutely. I like to take my time when making music in general…and doubly so with Black Flower. Black Flower was me really challenging myself lyrically and content-wise. In my opinion, storytelling is what separates your average artist from your truly great ones…and instead of doing that with just one track, I wanted to challenge myself to do it throughout an entire album. One single story told throughout 10 tracks. A lot of effort went into this project, and I feel my penmanship grew with each track I wrote.
What does your writing process look like? I.e., medium, ambiance, company etc.
Complete solitude. I lock myself in my room and tune out everything around me, focusing only on what`s directly in front of me. There`s an interesting story from Nas`s early career about how he went “missing” for a day or so. He was found in a room that he rented just for writing, with papers filled with rhymes and verses scattered everywhere and all that. I`m not much different.
What goals, if any, did you have going into the creation of Black Flower, and do you think you achieved those goals?
No grand goals or schemes…I just wanted to test myself, tell a story, and create a listening experience as best as I could. If the end result attracted an audience & fanbase, cool. If it didn`t, also cool. This was more for me to experiment with my artistry and push my boundaries further. Do I feel I accomplished that? Absolutely.
How do you feel about how it’s been received thus far?
I`m pleased. I haven`t really been heavily promoting the album or anything I`ve done to keep it real… I`ll just finish something and if I like how it sounds I`ll put it out there, then will move directly onto the next thing. I`m assuming most are finding out about the album through word of mouth, and the feedback I`ve been getting back has been entirely positive. This just motivates me to continue taking my time to make sure everything I release continues to be of quality.
Tell me about your relationship with JLVSN, and how you two worked together to put together an album like this.
JLVSN is the god and is one of the most talented producers out there by far. He reached out to me letting me know he was feeling my sound, and proceeded to send me pure heat. Everything he sent me I connected with instantly, and knew immediately I was going to make an album with dude. Much more will be coming from us both soon.
What was the process behind choosing samples and some of the theme-central intros/outros?
I`m a film addict and I wanted to do something with that…so I decided to make a film through music. Once I had an idea in mind for the story I wanted to tell, knowing what to use for the skits came naturally. As for the samples, I knew what vibes and feelings I wanted the listener to experience on each track, so it was just about choosing samples that could bring those to light.
Only two features on the album, but Heem Stogied and Estee Nack definitely stood their ground, tell me a little about your relationship with these two, and how these features came about.
I first heard Heem Stogied on one of Mach Hommy`s earlier joints and thought dude was ill. So, I went on to check out his King Stogied Dump Gawd tape and was like damn…. dude raw as hell. Whole style from the flow, energy (unmatched here), cadence, and lyrics…all the coldest shit man.
I got put onto Estee Nack from the knowledge god Nick Gauder (fadeawaybarber). Listened to a few tracks of his on SoundCloud and was like yo…his talent is ridiculous. The rhyme schemes, unorthodox flows…there’s layers to his shit man…and those adlibs…no words man shit crazy.
They both came through and were perfect fits for the album.
How did you link up with Camouflage Monk? He has an insanely elite group of collaborators and you seem to fit right in skill-wise.
Camouflage Monk is God…you know it, your friends know it, and anyone else that`s up to speed with the renaissance going on in hip hop right now knows it. No doubt he`ll be revered in the same respects as Knxwledge, Madlib, and the likes real soon. I reached out to him and had him check out a track I did with Nicholas Craven (another god) and he was feeling it so we connected. Expect more from him & I soon too.
Based off some of the really personal songs on this album like What A Man Wants it seems like despite having been through a lot of strife, you have evolved to a very pragmatic outlook on everything. Speak on that a little.
“What A Man Wants” is the most personal song I`ve ever written. A lot of that song drew from previous relationships I`ve experienced, and in particular, touched on some feelings that I never got a chance to share with my woman that I loved, who had passed away in the middle of me making the album. Took a lot to write that song and finish it. It had my own personal experiences mixed with the story I was telling on the album.
On songs like Heist! You do some really quality storytelling, which has become a less followed path as of more recent times, what inspires you to do so?
The challenge of doing it. Storytelling without sacrificing lyricism…and by that I`m referring to all the similes…metaphors…entendres etc. that are a trademark of hip hop. Making a story interesting but easy to follow while still maintaining a certain level of wordplay ain`t an easy feat…and learning how to do that was a difficult but enjoyable process
What is your favorite song on the album?
High Tension is my personal favorite, then after that would probably be Pipe Dreams. High Tension, because as someone else put it, it`s got an abundance of “flavor”. Pipe Dreams because it takes me back to that old The Infamous & Hell On Earth era Mobb Deep sound.
Will you be returning to Philly anytime soon? What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back?
Definitely… that’s home. Cliché but likely grab me a good Philly Cheese Steak…been a while…damn.
What can we expect in terms of future releases, collaborations etc.?
Big things…and I mean BIG things starting this year and going into next. Both in the underground scene and outside of it. A massive release with THE ONE AND ONLY God sorcerer Evilldewer, and a few high-level collabs. Stay tuned.
Absolutely. Plan on making a few trips back to do some shows around the end of this year and throughout the next. Maybe even sooner if the bag is right.
Thank you for the interview and the music Wes Phili, looking forward to what you have in store.
Appreciate your time king. Peace to you, and salute.
Listen to Black Flower here: https://wesphili.bandcamp.com/releases.
Above the Fillmore lies a secret world with red velvet walls and giant sectional couches, dim lighting and high ceilings, surrounding a bar. This secret world is known as The Foundry, a small upstairs venue that is part of The Fillmore which presented a Secret Boy, AKA Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, on Wednesday of last week, February 27th, after the recent release of his album “Suffer On.“
Wicca Phase hails from Scranton, PA, so this night in particular was chosen as his tour-opener and release show for his new album Suffer On which came out on February 25th. The 5 openers ranged from rap to hardcore and includedChoice to Make, Guardian, Lil Zubin, Fantasy Camp, and Angel Du$t. Later on in the night, Wicca Phase, whose off-stage name is Adam McIlwee, walked on-stage eager for his first show on tour.
Commenting that he expected 150 less people to be at the show, the whole room was packed with fans of all the openers as well as Wicca. Although Wicca Phase is best known for his goth sound with long, droning, emotional lyrics, he was incredibly charismatic, often breaking out into smiles and laughs at the end of verses. His unique voice is unheard of in the traditional rap scene, with his drawn out and deep moaning lyricism, a genre of rap that is incredibly nichey that seems to only be successfully executed by groups such as Goth Boi Clique and Misery Club, which he is a part of.
One could say his alternative lyrics and approach stem from when he was in in the band Tigers Jaw, where he can be heard singing similar themes of heartbreak and uplifting music paired with the harsh realities of being young and unhinged. When asked about this, he replied saying he writes songs the same way he did when he was in Tigers Jaw, and being in the band helped him develop into a better writer.
In addition to his entire family and girlfriend supporting his home show, a familiar (and tattooed) face, Lil Tracy, made a cameo from the sidelines of the show. It was obvious that McIlwee had an incredible support group as his friends and family alike enjoyed the show just as much as the screaming kids in the audience.
After chants for an encore, Wicca Phase came back out and performed “Absolute in Doubt,” a song he collaborated on with the late GBC member and friend Lil Peep. An emotional end to an incredibly intimate show was the perfect way to kick off his North American Tour.
“It wasn’t somethin’ that I thought aboutBut, knew that you were absolute in doubt”
After the show, I waited… and waited… and waited until the floor cleared and Wicca appeared again to collect some of his belongings from the stage and greet the fans who hung around after the show. I got the chance to have a short interview with him with the last few minutes he had. I leaned over the barricades to ask a few questions…
Why did you choose to have your album release show in philly?
Adam: It’s the closest place to my hometown where people will actually come to a show, yeah.
Okay, so GBC seems to have started the whole emo-rap genre, do you feel like you have personally contributed to the creation of it?
Adam: Uhhhh, maybe inadvertently, I just wanted to do, like electronic music and this is what happened.
Can you elaborate a little bit on your name?
Adam: Uhh, not too much, it was given to me by an internet artist that I knew and I asked her for a name and that’s what she came back with, um I think it was kind of a troll, like, uh, that I was just going through a “Wicca Phase” and but it stuck.
So did being in Tiger’s Jaw, a more alternative band, help create your style that you have now or did you just want to do something different?
Adam: No, it probably did, I only… I only know how to write songs one way. And I wrote songs like that in Tiger’s Jaw and I write Wicca Phase songs the same way, but I got better at writing songs while I was in Tiger’s Jaw because I practiced.
After the brief interview and a few pictures, it was apparent that Wicca truly was happy to have dedicated fans who enjoy the different type of music he creates. Even more so, performing seemed to be something he will never take for granted, as I could tell he was trying to deliver the same emotions and feelings he had when creating his music to the crowd in front of him.
At WKDU we receive new music every week from a huge variety of labels. We keep all of our new releases in our main control room (the room out of which our DJs do their thing) on our “New Music Shelf”. Our DJs pull from this shelf quite often, because our goal is to serve you the freshest underground cuts–FDA certified 100% organic, grass-fed, farm to table, FRESH. With “Off the Shelf”, our goal is to dive deeper than ever into our “New Music Shelf” favorites, and to share our thoughts with our community. Here’s hoping we inspire you to check out something NEW.
By Matt Squires
Parquet Courts’ new album, Wide Awake!, is a diverse collection of raw rock and rolls sounds, familiar to the American ear, yet unique and refreshing. The production is minimalistic, to focus the listener on the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the songs, which are undeniably catchy. The vocals are raw with minor imperfections as if performed in a live setting.
“Total Football” kicks off the album with a classic rock style sharp slow chord progression. Soon the beat speeds up and the bass riff kicks, forcing the listener to bounce back and forth, a feeling used many times on this album including, “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and “Extinction”. Growly vocals are introduced, seemingly untrained and raw, their voices fit the aesthetic perfectly. This riveting intro song ends like the streets of Philadelphia after the 2018 super bowl, “F___ Tom Brady!!”.
“Violence” shows the more serious side of this album. Smooth groovy rhythms and catchy riffs over a yelling monologue until coming in with the chorus “violence is daily life.” Parquet Courts makes their way around the genre spectrum while maintaining the same production aesthetic with the slowed jam, “before the water gets too high”. The repeating riff is memorizing and the organ-sounding synth chords hold the song together.
Next stop on this journey is a flashback to 90s alternative rock. Sounding like Pavements “Range Life”, “Mardi Gras Beads” takes the album to very familiar place. The smooth lush reverb-filled verse contrasts with the rigid power chords that come in the chorus creating a rich texture. “Almost had to start a fight” channels the bands Proto-Punk aesthetic with riffs sounding like MC5, the vocals match the rhythm to create a concrete, energetic jam. Merging into “In and out of Patience” with the phrase “If it stops i’m having a bad dream”, the pattern changes, putting another involuntary step in the foot of the listener.
The aptly named, “Freebird 2”, lives up to its name talking about drugs and getting older with pentatonic blues scales. The title song, “Wide Awake” combines a groovy bass riff with a dance party vibe. The use of Auxiliary percussion on this track makes it stand out from the others. A straight rhythm blues jam ends the album out with a piano melody doubling the vocals, making for an upbeat vibe. The chord progression is a mixture of simple chords and unusually dissonant chords that give an excellent texture to this familiar groove.
Parquet Courts have maintained their progressive classic rock style. Innovative yet so familiar and easy to latch on to, this album is an instant classic filled with songs that capture the last 50 years of rock music.
If you enjoy diving into experimental hip hop and bouncy future beats, you owe it to yourself to check out Night Swim Radio’s latest compilation The Deep End – Volume 1. Night Swim is a Philadelphia based web radio show that has consistently selected amazing underground artists for their weekly mixes, live showcases and compilation albums. I had the pleasure of hosting NSR’s co-founder and all-around badass, Robert Ritter, for an awesome guest mix on Snack Time, so I reached back out with a couple questions to gain further insight into The Deep End and Night Swim.
Right in time for Night Swim Radio’s 2 year anniversary as one of the best tastemakers in Philly, you guys just dropped one of the hottest compilations of experimental future beats I’ve seen all summer. What has it been like getting this project together?
You’re too kind. We initially were going to try and secure some “bigger” artists for promotional purposes but then realized our first compilation should be from the Night Swim family. We sent out probably 20-30 emails and ended up with 10 artists that we have been promoting for a long time. Everyone involved is super excited to be a part and we can’t wait to keep working with them. Really just honored that they spent time on music for us to release.
How did you pick the title of the compilation, “The Deep End”? How did you tie all of the songs together?
Like our name, Jeff, the other founder, just said “how about The Deep End”? I am not very picky and said sure! We wanted to make it pool related and it just fit. Took about 10 minutes in total to design the cover once I had the name. I wanted to have the compilation run seamlessly and really craft the order but didn’t have enough time. I played the songs back and forth and landed on the order that it is, tried to split up the 3 songs with vocals. I knew I wanted to start with Pold x Baribal because that song is gorgeous.
On the weekly shows and on the new release, you feature lots of local artists who are killing it right now. Who from Philly should definitely be on everyone’s radar right now?
Kilamanzego for sure. She claims she just started producing but I don’t believe her because it is so good! Vendr is another very talented artist. Lastly, godchild makes some impressive music and goes to Drexel, although don’t quote me on that, I might be wrong.
One of your secret talents seems to be connecting artists through NSR to collaborate on tunes. One of your matchmaking successes, Rasiir and Prototyp3, got together on “The Deep End” for the track “Exodus”, which you released ahead of the full comp. How does it feel having such a direct impact on the community?
Oh man, that makes me happier than anything else Night Swim has done. Being from the Midwest, music is very communal. I used to play shows where every band knew each other and supported each other and wanted everyone to succeed. The east coast has been pretty different but I can’t get away from that desire, to help artists meet new people and grow together. The next compilation is going to be 100% collaborative, bringing together vocalists and producers.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your 2 years as founder/co-producer of Night Swim Radio?
Just trying to not care about followers and play count. Although it definitely helps to have thousands of plays, the point is creating a quality radio program and meeting and promoting new artists. You can get so wrapped up in wanting more followers and grow bitter but you have to remember that the whole point of this is to bring joy to the world, at least for me!
What do you have planned for the future?
The compilation was just the start of our newest venture, Night Swim Records. We have an EP from Prototyp3 coming out in August, definitely something with Rasiir in the works, we always release new singles through our soundcloud, and starting to plan out the next compilation!