Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images
Smashing Pumpkins in 2019
Smashing Pumpkins Announce "Bare-Knuckle Rock And Roll" Rock Invasion 2 Tour
Billy Corgan says the tour will bring "the kind of show and set we haven't done for a very, very long time…Full, unrelenting power"
The Smashing Pumpkins have announced a U.S. spring headline tour dubbed the Rock Invasion 2. It's named after their Rock Invasion trek that went down in 1993, the same year they catapulted towards fame with their classic GRAMMY-nominated LP Siamese Dream.
"It's been a good while since we've played a straight-up, bare-knuckle rock and roll show—one that avoids little in the way of raw power," frontman Billy Corgan said in a statement. "This tour won't be for those faint of heart and will certainly echo the dynamic modes in which we built our live reputation."
The 11-date jaunt begins in Louisville, Ky. on April 23 and continues with dates across the Southern and Midwestern states, including a stop at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium on April 28. The tour also includes two festival dates—Memphis' Beale Street Fest and Atlanta's Shaky Knees—before the tour wraps up in Greensboro, N.C. on May 8.
Ticket pre-sale starts tomorrow, March 3, at 10 am local time; newsletter subscribers will get pre-sale access codes.
After the headline shows, the GRAMMY-winning band will embark on their previously announced opening sets for select dates on Guns N' Roses stadium tour. This includes shows in larger cities (and much bigger venues) including Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto and Boston, all in July.
Corgan shared a long note (which you can read above) about Rock Invasion 2 and their upcoming album, which he teases as their "first double album effort since [2000's] Machina." That hard-rocking LP, Machina/The Machines Of God, turned 20 three days ago on Feb. 29.
The singer/guitarist also shared that the upcoming tour will bring "the kind of show and set we haven't done for a very, very long time…Full, unrelenting power. Enjoy! And bring your ear plugs."
Their last release was an LP in 2018 called SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN. No release date has been set yet for their upcoming album.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Tim Saccenti
Code Orange's 'The Above': The Metalcore Heroes On Their Creatively Generous New Album
Code Orange threw red meat to the listening public with "Out For Blood," ahead of a tour with Korn. After that zig, a zag: released on Sept. 29, 'The Above' is their most eclectic and well-rounded work yet.
Check his list of credits: generally, Corgan's behind the scenes as a co-writer. When he has appeared as a vocalist or guitarist, it's generally been for veterans — like Scorpions, New Order or Hole — or then-upstarts of modern rock, like Breaking Benjamin.
But there he is, in the delicate bridge of Code Orange's bludgeoning single "Take Shape." "Spread your wings/ Show us who you are," he sings over fingerpicked acoustic guitar, in his inimitable keen. "Spread your wings/ You'll go far."
Corgan's guest appearance has resonance far beyond name recognition, or '90s cred during the '90s wave. Because the Smashing Pumpkins were probably the most emotionally and artistically generous band of that decade.
Back then, Corgan and company gave you everything they were. Emotionally and materially, "withholding" wasn't in their DNA. And the same goes for Code Orange, who hold the odd distinction of being punk veterans by their early thirties.
Over the course of five albums, vocalist Jami Morgan, guitarists Reba Meyers and Dominic Landolina, bassist Joe Goldman, keyboardist Eric "Shade" Balderose, and drummer Max Portnoy have metamorphosed from basement hardcore to a hydra of heavy styles.
Think Pumpkins meets A Perfect Circle, with a helping of metalcore, and you're somewhere in their vicinity. For their efforts, they've garnered two GRAMMY nominations.
Across their development, Code Orange have exemplified this Pumpkinesque spirit of generosity. Their new album, The Above, out Sept. 29, is teeming and bountiful — both emotionally unsparing and all over the map stylistically.
One minute, they're mellow and openhearted, as on "Mirror." The next, they're nightmarishly twisted and alien, as on "A Drone Opting Out of the Hive." And many songs, from "Splinter the Soul" to "Snapshot," effectively marry those refractive qualities.
Whether due to their maturity as songwriters, Steve Albini's blunt-force engineering, or any number of other happy factors, Code Orange have raised the bar once more. And as per Corgan's presence and cosigning, they feel like worthy candidates for the Pumpkins' heirs.
Here's a breakdown of how Code Orange arrived at The Above — with quotes from their brazen, stage-stalking frontman, Jami Morgan.
They Declared Themselves "Out For Blood"
Code Orange's 2020 album Underneath — the one that got nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance — was a wonderfully suffocating and immersive work of experimental metal.
The video is hellacious; the song could soundtrack a weekend rappelling off buildings. It unabashedly flirts with nu metal. It's also just a lot of fun.
"Out for Blood" was arguably Code Orange's furthest-afield single to date; those who got on the train back when they were Code Orange Kids, playing to circle pits in VFW halls, may have been a touch confused. (Or, in YouTube comments and on the hardcore Facebook group No Echo, outwardly hostile.)
But regarding their roots, Code Orange are too canny to just let go of the tether; "Out for Blood" was a brief detour, in the form of a bloody good time.
The Concept Bloomed During The Pandemic
If Underneath represented claustrophobic, subterranean depths, The Above lives in blinding, oppressive daylight: the film Midsommar transmuted to music.
"It started with this light metaphor," Morgan tells GRAMMY.com. "I was reading a lot about parasites, and how when they attach to the host, they'll take other bugs that shouldn't be exposed to light and expose them to it, so they can be consumed.
"I saw that as a cool metaphor for trying to follow the light of our outside acceptance," he continues. The songs he was writing dealt with self-acceptance, success and striving for inner peace.
The lockdown kickstarted Code Orange's writing process earlier than expected. "We started with the loose shape of this record right off the bat," he says. "When we started determining what that is — what paths we could take, that we weren't going to take."
They Embraced Hooks & Pop Structure
Nothing on The Above is quite as deliciously shameless as "Out for Blood." But The Above does share one key element with that barbarous banger: a grasp of pop structure.
"It was like a spliced reality off of the Underneath cycle," Morgan says of "Out for Blood." Over Zoom, he points to a mood board behind him, representing The Above: "To me, the band is one wall, and everything we've done fits in."
Accordingly, Code Orange applied lessons learned to their new album. "Every song, heavy or not, has some kind of hook that comes back," he says. "It's not an ABCDEFG record," like some of the songs we've made in the past."
Code Orange. Photo: Tim Saccenti
They Imbued The Music With Newfound Humanity
Scanning the band's discography, Morgan perceives moments where they didn't quite land where they wanted. Because of this, they opted to produce The Above themselves.
"We didn't want to take it and hand it to somebody, like we've done," Morgan says. "Because we've had problems with that."
While at the production controls, they went for a detail-oriented approach that prioritized openness, breathability and forthright emotion — while keeping the experimental torches alight.
They achieved this more organic aesthetic by making the raw band the focus. Also, Morgan rendered his diction clearer, his lyrics more understandable.
"We definitely thought, Can we make something that is experimental, that is boundary-pushing, that is pulled from the past and future," Morgan says, "but is coloring within the lines of structure a little more?"
The Above Feels Like A Bridge Into The Unknown
To Morgan, Code Orange's 15-year evolutionary arc has reached its opposite end on The Above.
As he explains, the closing track, "The Above," is meant to "visualize being on an island of self. I wanted to make a song that you could almost sit on the f—ing beach to, and feel your soul — feel the emotion, and be stoic in yourself."
In that way, The Above is a culmination of everything they've built to — and also a launching pad. "If this was the last thing we did, I will be happy with it," he says. "But I also can see so many possibilities of where to go from it."
Overall, Morgan stresses that Code Orange never existed to rock out or have fun; "It exists to fill a void that I want to see," he says. "We're trying to make statements and we're trying to make artistic pieces.
"If people want that, then we're going to be here forever," Morgan concludes. "And if they don't, then we won't."
But in the modern rock landscape, they bear a message that's difficult to ignore. And it's sung by their spiritual forebear, rock's patron saint of ambition, largesse, and generally being a lot: "Spread your wings."
Photos (L-R): Stefan M. Prager/Redferns via Getty Images, Paul Natkin/Getty Images, Paul Elledge
Songbook: A Guide To The Smashing Pumpkins In Three Eras, From 'Gish' To 'Atum'
From their wall-of-guitars early years to their hyper-eclectic commercial heyday to their 21st-century rebirth, here's a rundown of the Smashing Pumpkins' discography.
At their best, the Smashing Pumpkins represent a captivating dichotomy of tranquil and thunderous, delicate and pulverizing. Step into Siamese Dream cold and see if you don't agree.
From the volcanic intro to "Cherub Rock" onward, the Pumpkins' performances are ferocity incarnate: Billy Corgan's overwhelming bramble of overdubbed, Big Muffed guitars, Jimmy Chamberlin's jazz-like flow undergirding it all. But while Corgan screams, he also cooes. Yes, the music flirts with brutal metal, as it does on "Quiet" and "Geek U.S.A." But it closes with "Luna," the polar opposite — a gossamer ballad. In highlights like "Soma" and "Mayonaise," both these streams of feeling run concurrently.
Try to find another record with these simultaneous qualities, dialed up to 10. (Corgan's direct inspiration, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, is the exception that proves the rule.)
From there, investigate the two-time GRAMMY winners' entire catalog; this duality is everywhere. It's all over their 1991 debut, Gish — and reached a peak of extremity in 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, where whimsical baubles like "Lily" and "Cupid de Locke" sit next to hair-on-fire death-metal meltdowns like "Tales of a Scorched Earth" and "X.Y.U."
A litany of beefs, breakups and make-ups haven't compromised that essential core. Their 2023 conceptual triple album, Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Parts, by the mostly reunited original lineup — bassist D'arcy Wretzky didn't return — is just as clear a window into Corgan's dark-and-light psyche as any. The rawk is there, as on singles "Beguiled" and "Empires," but so is an innocent air of sci-fi fantasia.
Pull up any interview with Corgan, and it will be many, many things: tempestuous, braggadocious, humble, vengeful, funny, conciliatory. After all these decades, it's impossible to truly get a read on the guy — other than that his mind is a freight train. And by the sound of the epic, ambitious, narrative-freighted Atum, that train isn't slowing down anytime soon.
With all that in mind, here's a quick trip through the Pumpkins' singular catalog, divided into three epochs.
The Original Run (1988-2000)
Five years after the Smashing Pumpkins disbanded, Corgan fired a missile that's almost jarringly revealing.
"I was into Black Sabbath and it just wasn't cool, but I didn't give a s—," he seethed to Pitchfork in 2005, while promoting his debut solo album, TheFutureEmbrace. "My band was going to sound like Black Sabbath because I f—ing wanted it to and I didn't give a s— what some idiot f— thought."
As quaint as it seems now, it was gauche in early-'90s alternative circles to bear a classic rock influence: punkness was the platonic ideal. To Corgan, a tormented and talented child who grew up to assume an alt-rock platform, this was a call to arms.
Vibey and paisley-patterned, Gish was a contrarian move, seamlessly blending his beloved Sabbath with goth, shoegaze, dream pop, and other disparate influences.
Even looking at a photo of them at the time — Corgan looking like a Boston roadie; workaday, mulleted Chamberlin; boy and girl next door James Iha and Wretzky — it's clear they arrived in this sphere like space invaders.
Any number of Gish tunes, from "Siva" to "Rhinoceros" to "Tristessa," remain Pumpkins classics, but the album arguably served as a ramp-up to Siamese Dream — one of the all-time "Guy loses his mind in the studio under the guise of a band" classics.
The jury's still out on how much, or even if, Iha and Wretzky even appeared on it. The interpersonal drama behind the scenes has been public knowledge for decades.
"Cherub Rock" is that infamous Sabbath quote turned into a raging anthem; when Corgan screams "Let me out!", he means the fetters of hipsterdom. Watch Corgan when they debuted the song on "Saturday Night Live" in 1993; each crashing chord at the end is a hammer striking down his enemies, and at song's end, he throws up devil horns for good measure.
The eggshell-fragile hit single "Today" is mostly remembered for the video with the ice cream truck, which belies that it's about suicidal ideation. "Mayonaise," a heavy, windswept ballad co-written with Iha, is a thing of uncanny beauty.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness represents the culmination of Corgan's classic rock dreams, at least until Atum. It's their Wall, their Sandanista!, their White Album. (Indeed, it ends with a song called "Farewell and Goodnight.")
And on top of an already impressive 28 songs, it spawned an entire boxed set of outtakes — The Aeroplane Flies High — that are just as good as the album.
As for the double album proper, "Tonight, Tonight" conjures a strain of longing and awe that's oddly specific to the Pumpkins; the magnificent video cemented it as an all-timer. The whimsical title of "Jellybelly" belies that it's one of the heaviest metal songs they ever recorded. Corgan's paint-peeling scream at the climax of the already over-the-top "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" is unforgettable.
Crucially, Mellon Collie's epic feel is due to far more than the sheer length of the album: in "Here is No Why," when Corgan proclaims "May the king of gloom/ Be forever/ Doomed!", and Chamberlin answers him with a galactic snare fill, the effect is of your body lifting a few inches in the air.
The new-wavy side of Planet Pumpkin came to the forefront with "1979," their most well-known song by some margin. But as rightly adored as that hit single and its video are, it's an outlier. At their mid-'90s commercial peak, the Smashing Pumpkins were seemingly capable of anything, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness put all their cards on the table.
In the pantheon of great "everything's crumbling" records, 1998's muted, gothy Adore deserves a seat at the table. Corgan was clearly grappling with the loss of his mother, who died in 1996: the piano ballad "For Martha" is named for her. The skulking industrial-pop single "Ava Adore" represents Corgan at his most Gary Numan-eque.
Other highlights — "Perfect," "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete," "Behold! The Night Mare" — capture a particular rapprochement between gloominess and pop appeal that Corgan never repeated. He would later call the experience of making Adore "one of the most painful experiences of my life."
The still-underrated Machina/The Machines of God brought the Pumpkins' original run to a halt. Chamberlin was back, but Wretzky had been replaced by Melissa Der Auf Maur. Among some critics, the pushed-to-the-red production did Machina no favors.
Machina continues a somewhat opaque sci-fi tale that began with Mellon Collie and culminates with Atum. While strange-yet-tantalizing concoctions like "The Crying Tree of Mercury" might be for Pumpkins diehards rather than neophytes, Machina contains one of the greatest songs Corgan ever wrote: "Stand Inside Your Love." If you're wired a certain way, this arena-rocking monument to longing and devotion might make your heart leap into your throat.
A scattered sequel, Machina II/The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, was freighted with legal issues. Released as three EPs for free on the Internet, it's an essential addendum, with terrific deep cuts like "Home" and Iha's "Go."
As with The Aeroplane Flies High and their phenomenal 1994 outtakes and B-sides collection, Pisces Iscariot, which contains a borderline definitive version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," Machina II is an essential companion piece to the Book of Billy.
The Transitional Years (2007-2016)
After Corgan's short-lived yet beloved supergroup Zwan made one sunny album and flamed out, the Smashing Pumpkins reunited in the mid-2000s. Kind of. It was just Corgan and Chamberlin, with guitarist Jeff Schroeder and bassist Ginger Pooley filling them out.
The reconstituted band's first offering was 2007's Zeitgeist — the band's heaviest album by some margin, and one that fixated on a topic that the band had never broached before: U.S. politics. (Underlined by an almost 10-minute-long think called "United States.")
Despite a so-so critical reputation, Zeitgeist has aged well, especially given the current 2000s boom — despite the fact it's disappeared from streaming. "Tarantula" was and is a satisfying comeback single, and idea-rich tunes like "7 Shades of Black" and "Neverlost" are further proof that Corgan's songwriting chops remained in fine form during the break. They followed Zeitgeist with an acoustic EP, American Gothic, that same year.
It's no criticism of the Pumpkins to say that what happened next is all over the place. Partly because the next chapter resulted in a slew of great songs.
Chamberlin then exited, leaving Corgan as the sole original Pumpkin. After hiring Mike Byrne as Chamberlin's replacement, Corgan fired up another one of his hallucinogenically ambitious conceptual projects: Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Conceived as a 44-song project themed around the tarot, the songs would be rolled out via an unconventional method: one by one, as he recorded them, in real time. While Teargarden didn't make it to completion, some of the tunes rank among Corgan's prettiest, like "Tom Tom" and "Spangled."
2012's Oceania hinted at the band continuing in a new form — Corgan, Schroeder and Byrne, filled out with bassist Nicole Fiorentino. But it didn't last. Still, approach this fan favorite not for the drama, but for the tunes, like the barreling "Panopticon," which recaptures that Siamese Dream fire, and the quiet-to-loud banger "The Celestials."
Corgan consolidated for 2014's Monuments to an Elegy, where the lineup is the grand total of himself, Schroeder and Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee. Pop-radio-pointed singles have looked good on Corgan from the jump; for an obscure one, check out their strummy, end-credits farewell single "Untitled." "Being Beige" is another jewel in that crown.
While this period may have reflected a sense of uncertainty, it turned out to be temporary: in 2018, three original Pumpkins got back together — for real this time.
A New Era (2018-Present)
Despite having more original members today than at any point in nearly two decades, the Smashing Pumpkins have refused to make a reheated Siamese Dream. Rather, the band's recent creative moves have been quixotic and unpredictable in the most Pumpkinesque way.
It started in 2018 with a mouthful of a title: Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun., a spirited Rick Rubin-produced mini-album to gas up fans for the reunion tour.
If you thought we were getting a Vol. 2, though, think again: what came next was Cyr, a double album of austere synth-pop with almost zero deviation. That aesthetic blossomed into 2023's Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Parts, where Corgan and company deftly incorporate those analog synths into their old guitar-heavy template — updated with modern rock production.
Out of the entire set of '90s-rock royalty, the Smashing Pumpkins could be the most flat-out entertaining and transportive. A writer once summed up Corgan's two greatest strengths as a musician: "symphonic grandeur and needling intimacy." Partly thanks to Corgan's mastery in both departments, there was nobody like them when they arrived, and there will never be again. Believe in them, as they believe in you.
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.