Electronic dance music will come and go (might we be ready for the “go” part just about now?), but vigorous, jump-around-the-dance-floor music will always exist. And the beauty is that, compared to the fundamental stylistic monotony of EDM, there are in fact a lot of ways to make dance music, a lot of styles one might employ. I myself am partial to a sound pioneered in the late ’70s by the likes of Talking Heads and David Bowie, a kind of angular white-guy funk I could, as a white guy, relate to. I especially loved this odd type of dance music’s emphasis on the electric guitar; I’m a particular sucker for that squonky metallic tone you hear at its most compelling on an album like Scary Monsters.
Some of that is going on here with the Philadelphia band Minka and I am all for it. Even before we get to full squonk (that would start at 2:14), these guys have brought post-punk dance music, or some such thing, into the 21st century, complete with scratchy rhythm guitars and a lead singer, one Ari Rubin, whose edgy croon and theatrical vibrato give us a sense of what a young David Byrne might have sounded like had he smiled once in a while.
A palpable humanity underpins this kind of sound—there’s great precision here (there has to be, with any kind of dance music) but also a looseness in the air that speaks of a band delighted to be playing actual instruments in a room full of actual people, as opposed to twiddling knobs in a booth. Now then, not every band that hypnotizes you into buying their album at the gig has the songwriting chops required to deliver both in the club and in the iPhone. And Minka is most definitely an in-person phenomenon, renowned for their shall we say uninhibited performances. But “Josephine” transcends the requirement of being in the same room with these guys, and to me, that’s about the best kind of dance music there is.
Minka is a four-man band and officially spell their name in all caps: MINKA. “Josephine” is a track from the band’s forthcoming EP, Born in the Viper Room.