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The Futureheads do new wave right; IQU shows us why it's outlast peers Cibo Matto, Pizzicato Five, and Cornelius.

Last winter, in a review of the Futureheads' debut, Rolling Stone proclaimed that the British quartet had "reclaim[ed] pop punk." But don't let that sway you, the band is actually good, a rare breed in fact: a new-wave-influenced group that isn't trapped in a retro hell that no one should have ever created the first time around, let alone now. Rather than being one of any number of arty synth-tethered outfits trying to ape the Human League, the Futureheads actually rock. And yet they also have a sensitive side, as witnessed by their cover of Kate Bush's moody "Hounds of Love." The High Speed Scene and Shout Out Louds open these skinny-tie-clad proceedings on Thursday, March 10, at Slim's; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info.-- Tamara Palmer


When IQU (pronounced "ee-koo") released its first full-length, 1998's Chotto Matte a Moment, the Seattle group fit comfortably into the "cute Japanese electro-pop movement" typified by Cibo Matto, Pizzicato Five, and Cornelius. The duo's new LP, Sun Q (Sonic Boom Recordings), is far harder to pigeonhole. Whereas the pair's earlier tunes drifted along like narcotized daydreams, the new tracks are tougher, noisier, and dancier -- cute still, but equally willing to stomp on some toes. Organ player Michiko Swiggs now coos in Japanese and swaggers in English, drawing lascivious tales of party girls and dirty boys, while multi-instrumentalist Kento Oiwa delivers crunchy beats and raunchy guitar, along with shockingly sultry theremin (on a cover of Minnie Riperton's "Loving You"). IQU will show why it has outlasted -- and outgrown -- its peers at the S.F. International Asian American Film Fest's "Directions in Sound" showcase on Friday, March 11, at Café Du Nord; call 861-5016 or go to www.cafedunord.com.-- Dan Strachota

 
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