It takes more than big beats to make a crowd shake it. Sure, kicking beefy 4/4 beats onto the floor is essential -- but too many DJs, hip-hop producers, techno auteurs and dance-punk wannabes forget to sweeten the pot with anything resembling melody or feeling. It's like the old carrot-and-stick method of motivation: You have to dangle a little treat in front of people's faces while smacking them across the backside with rhythm.
Seattle's United States of Electronica, though, leaves no trick unturned in its shameless quest to transform America into one nation under a groove. On its new, self-titled debut, the coed septet interlaces chirpy vocoders, candy-funk syncopation and continent-sized hooks as it channels inspirations as left-field and ostensibly dorky as Kool and the Gang, Happy Mondays, the Cardigans and Junior Senior. Even the group's name ("electronica," remember, is a term that's been a total joke for almost a decade now) seems to revel in anachronism rather than chase trends or vie for relevance. After all, the virtue of boogie-ability -- as any dance-floor devotee will tell you -- is in the eyes, ears and ass of the beholder.