It’s Hot Box’s polite refusal to act the rock star that helps them move into more interesting territory than they might with a cockier self-assurance. Stolzenberg admits that when she was growing up, Smashing Pumpkins formed the outer limits of her music universe and that “mostly it was just Paula Abdul.” Last year, someone told her that Hot Box sounded like Sonic Youth, so she bought a CD the next day (“I think it had a number in the title?”), put it in the car stereo, and gave up after one song. “I made everyone else listen to it, and they all hated it too!”

There are poppier bits of Sonic Youth in the music — brittle, coiled-up melodies, trails of reverb and casual, seasick dissonance — but there’s more than that. There’s a heavy back-and-forth between the dainty parts and the wrenching bits of numbing shoegazer, post-rock, and disco hi-hat fits that Kogelschatz throws in at the most non-obvious moments.

When Dellevigne and Stolzenberg met, Stolzenberg had been trying out songs at solo acoustic open mics around town and just starting to get into Elliott Smith and Modest Mouse. Dellevigne, meanwhile, had grown up a punk and hardcore kid and become a stalwart Shellac and Jesus Lizard fan. Dellevigne: “I think the fact that none of us like the same music at all and have no plans on how we want the band to sound in the first place keeps us from ever sounding too much like a bad version of any of our favorite bands.” So far, it’s working out. Elegant, strange approaches to the fretboards from both leading women are beginning to jell into sets of patient, exploratory songs. And the band remain humble — nerd-friendly album title and all.

“We’re a pretty clean-cut band,” says Stolzenberg. “Except for what we do to rats.”

HOT BOX + THIS CAR UP + WHERE THE LAND MEETS THE SEA + HORSEHANDS | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Boston | March 29 at 9 pm | $10 | www.greatscottboston.com

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