Live at Alma Mater: The Intelligence

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For over 15 years, the Intelligence has established itself as a sardonically witty, bracingly dynamic band, blending garage-punk, New Wave, psych, and noise-rock into a consistently compelling stew. The Intelligence first made its mark in Seattle, setting itself apart from the indie pop, folk-rock, and singer-songwriter journalings that marked the trends of the mid-aughts.

Initially, the Intelligence was the work of one guy: Lars Finberg, frustrated with the complications and egos involved in being in a full band, struck out on his own with a series of homespun albums where he was the sole authorial and instrumental voice. Technically solo singer-songwriter works, these albums still felt like full, expansive material, more ingeniously composed than your average bedroom pop project.

 

Years later, Finberg has embraced the collaborative nature of composing material with a proper band, lending the Intelligence a greater sense of visceral immediacy than ever before.

 

“I was recording the records by myself, but over time we've become more of a live band, with the touring group playing on the records,” says Finberg. “I like home recording a lot, but we've done it. So, I think it's fresher and more original for us to have people playing in a room, recorded on tape, which I think is a little lost these days. … I probably recorded four records by myself, that were more writing as I was recording, and seeing how the songs panned out. Now, I'm more into simple, punk rock recordings of stuff we can play live. This record is the first time we can play all of those nine songs in a set.”

 

Finberg's talking about the Intelligence's recently released album, Un-Psychedelic in Peavey City, which opens with the strikingly stark “L'appel Du Vide,” a tune that almost functions as a statement of purpose for the new Intelligence: simple, driving drums trade time with squalling guitars, and in between are deadpan asides by Finberg (“Of course I want to be present, just not that present,” for instance). The album that follows is one that plays around with sounds and genres, swirling in and around Finberg's richly evocative lyrics, while always grounded by the tight interplay of the band.

 

“Other people have a hobby, like fishing or painting,” says Finberg. “But sitting and playing guitar on my couch, for hours, is what I find entertaining. If I could do anything on a day off, it would be to sit at home and write songs, or tinker with ones we have.”

 

The album art of Un-Psychedelic in Peavey City features an unmistakable image of a discount price tag that you'd find in any record shop, which is a gorgeous touch, and one that will prove nostalgic to anyone who's spent time digging through crates of vinyl. When asked if he had scored any gems from discount bins, Finsberg said no, but he'd found something arguably better.

 

“My step-grandmother brought over a box of my uncle's records, who grew up in Lancaster, where Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart are from,” says Finberg. “It was this box of abandoned records from when my uncle was in his twenties, and there was a Captain Beefheart's Safe as Milk in there, which I couldn't believe. I was so excited, I couldn't believe my uncle had this original copy of Safe as Milk, and I pulled the record out, and it was actually Sesame Street's Grover Sings the Blues. Which is kind of the same record, really.”

 

The Intelligence takes the stage of Fawcett Hall this Sunday. Bring your favorite Captain Beefheart or Grover release, and if you're lucky you may just get it signed!