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Pop smarts

Denvers very own Hot IQs will be at Black Sheep.
  • Denvers very own Hot IQs will be at Black Sheep.

The Hot IQs want you to know how smart they are. It's sort of their mission statement. Take another look at their name and consider that they call their style "wit-pop," and you get the idea.

The 3-year-old Denver trio might wear their swollen craniums on their sleeves, but they do it with enough charm and humor to avoid sneering poindexterism or, for that matter, getting the tar pounded out of them. (They're also completely adorable, which helps.)

For the group -- guitarist and singer Eli Mishkin, bassist Bryan Feuchtinger and drummer Elaine Acosta -- the current year has been a good one. They showcased at South by Southwest in March and at the CMJ Music Marathon in September, have seen rising college airplay, and caught "best band" nominations from both the Denver Post and Westword.

The Hot IQs' brand of snark-pop draws heavily on the styles prevalent during the Glory Days of Indie, localized in indie mini-meccas like Austin, Chapel Hill and the like.

Their debut full-length, An Argument Between the Brain and Feet, plays like fuzzy Superchunk backed by a ballsy Kink-ish impetus, with straightforward riffs and rhythms, all grounded by Acosta's metronomic, if not flashy, playing. Mishkin's Ivy League drawl sells the group, and his tongue-in-cheek lyrics make the songs an interesting listen. ("OK, Wendy, your breasts are the best I've ever seen / but there's nothing in between," he sings on "Wendy.")

That the band can get away with such veiled, ironic or nonsense lyrics is to their credit, and a testament to the infectiousness of the pop they're playing. While ultimately they're trying for melody and beat, it's these weird words -- and the aforementioned and obvious intelligence -- that beat back brainlessness.

A short tour of the Northwest with Tegan and Sara will follow their Black Sheep show, and with rising album sales and the increasing vogue of indie rock, the future is looking bright for the IQs. Pretty good for a bunch of eggheads.

-- Aaron Retka


Hot IQs with Matson Jones

Black Sheep (formerly Darkside), 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Saturday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.

$7, call 271-6842 for more.

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