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Once upon a time, there was a liner-note scribe who blanked on his deadline, and so, drunk and carefree, he whiled away the evening staring down a test pattern on the old black-and-white. Jolted back to his duty with a late-night call from his editor, he scrambled for a quick lede. The last time out, he’d unfurled the fake Webster’s definition, and he had already begun too many pages with “I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, and it is Ultimate Spinach.” His fearless solution: “What exactly is a…”—and here the record goes blank. Was it an Archie, a Kooba, a Shadow of Knight? In any case, a similar question lies before us today: What exactly is an Imperial Teen? The way I figure it, it’s something like an imperial gallon—giving you a splash more of something you’re already familiar with. So the mainly California quartet has girls that are girlier, boys that are boyier, and noise that is noisier than that in the power pop you’re accustomed to. It won’t be a taxing adjustment to make. The rules stay the same—guitars, bass, drums, some keybs; saucy nonsense syllables, SweeTart harmonies; lust, rage, a little rough trade. And if—seven years and three albums into its career—Imperial Teen still isn’t distinctive enough to banish obligatory mentions of Faith No More and Sister Double Happiness (the bands that made Roddy Bottum and Lynn Perko, respectively, semi-semi-famous), that’s not to say that they, along with Will Schwartz and Jone Stebbins, don’t put on a bang-up show and write some pretty terrific singles. (This time, it’s “Ivanka.”) Patty Schemel (ex-Hole) subs for the wedding-planning Perko on drums as the band plays with Garageland and Washington Social Club at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Glenn Dixon)