Thursday, August 11, 2011

Skype Three: 2011 Genius Award in Music Goes to the Intelligence

Posted by on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM

The Intelligences Lars Finberg and Susanna Welbourne
  • Kelly O
  • The Intelligence's Lars Finberg and Susanna Welbourne

Music was the last Genius Award to go out yesterday, and because Lars Finberg—ringleader of the Intelligence—is in Los Angeles, where he's currently spending a fraction of his time, the plan was to convey the pertinent info via Skype video connection. Trusting man that he is, Finberg left a prior engagement early for what we told him was going to be "a wacky video interview." Turns out, though, that the guy who records with quarter-inch reel-to-reel and melded together his entire first record in his bedroom with a 8-track has an outdated version of Skye and couldn't update it because he doesn't have "an administrator password" for his computer. Finally, we had to call him, but his reception was poor to non-existent. We were able to ascertain that he'd heard of the Genius Awards, and after that, convey that he'd just won one, and after that, what exactly that meant, at which time he started losing it, then the call dropped. Here's what he sent in return seconds later:

We ate some while we impatiently waited for Finberg to fix his Skype
  • Kelly O
  • We ate some cake while impatiently waiting for Finberg to fix his Skype

About the Intelligence sound: It's pop rolled up in a section of carpet and thrown off a bridge into a river of alien sounds, found instruments, and effects pedals. You might not realize it's pop at first listen, what with all bizarro effects, distorted guitars, and cracking drums, but it's there, just under the surface. Brush away all the loud and strange details, and you've got deceptively simple, decidedly brief, and thoroughly catchy songcraft. This stuff is still challenging in a way that doesn't make you want to clasp you hands over your ears and run away.

"I think all our songs need is verse-chorus-verse-chorus-done, at least when I'm writing them," Finberg told Dave Segal in a 2005 interview. "And we've had complaints about them being too short, but I feel like I'm bullshitting [by] putting more stuff in sometimes. Plus, I'm really lazy and if you come up with a bridge or a third part, that can just be another song. Or maybe I'm insecure and just want to get out of there." Whatever the motivation, there's power in that brevity.

And then there are the lyrics. As Christopher Frizzelle wrote here, they're morbid and funny, pointing out the absurdity of every day life without getting jaded or pouty. Take "Estate Sales":

"And when I die in my apartment/And I'm dragged out into the street/All the things I saved up for/Are headed for the rummage sale."

"Estate Sales"

"Like, Like, Like, Like, Like, Like, Like"

The Intelligence have followed this program for six albums over the span of seven years now (not to mention countless 7" singles, EPs, and splits with other like-minded bands), and it's earned them a bigger following elsewhere—Paris, New York City—than it has here, so we thought it was time to show them some hometown love. Congrats to the Intelligence!

You'll be hearing a lot more about the Intelligence as we draw closer to the Genius Awards party, which is on Friday, September 16, at the Moore. Find out more about the Stranger Genius Awards, the party, and how to donate to these annual $5,000 arts grants for five Seattle artists here.


Comments (12) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
no marketable skills 1
yay! it's about time. congrats, intelligencers!
Posted by no marketable skills on August 11, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this
geoff teardrop 2
excellent choice
Posted by geoff teardrop on August 11, 2011 at 1:35 PM · Report this
birdy num num 3
and to the million seattle musicians that make up INTELLIGENCE over the years. lars kicks ass tho'.
Posted by birdy num num on August 11, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Love it, Love it, Love it!
Posted by Kelly O on August 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this
wow. you guys actually picked someone this year that has played more than 2 shows. Awesome. This one matters.
Posted by Cappelletti on August 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Great choice!!!!
Posted by laceyswain on August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
This one matters! They're white! Yeah!!
Posted by Lack Of This Band on August 11, 2011 at 2:53 PM · Report this
nope, blacks, mexicans, and asians are in it bro

Posted by big carl on August 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM · Report this
Lars - Kudos from your former colleagues at Northwest Harvest! We'll try and round up some folks and come cheer you on at the Moore on the 16th! Todd G, Don M. et al.
Posted by Toddg@northwestharvest on August 11, 2011 at 5:00 PM · Report this
yahoo! I bet Lars is going to buy dozens of ornate brooches with his winnings! I'm so glad the 5 g's isn't going to someone with a beard and reverb pedal, justice has been served
Posted by ameliamaris on August 11, 2011 at 7:12 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 11
100% of Genius Awards for Music have been presented via Skype.
Posted by Josh Bis on August 11, 2011 at 9:29 PM · Report this
I am a user of Axvoice and i wonder if they start any of this kind of competition too as i am a musician too and missed that.
Posted by GJ Penn on August 26, 2011 at 3:24 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy