Counting albums, EPs, singles and splits, Seattle’s The Intelligence has racked up more than 20 releases in 13 years. That’s quite a frenetic output, matched by the pace of their music. The newest, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, is something of a departure from their earlier breakneck wail. Make no mistake, the recording remains lo-fi, especially compared with today’s spotless, auto-tuned “American Idle”-spawned pabulum. (No, that wasn't a typo.) The trashy bite is still there.
Despite dark touches like deadpan delivery of the line, “Pardon me, scumbag” in the relaxed “Return To Foam,” this album could garner the group a few fans who previously wouldn’t have tainted their iPod with the The Intelligence’s dissonant howl. An undiscriminating public has heard enough of the overrated White Stripes to accept a little aural dissonance. I’d venture that’s a good thing for the casual listener. But I can’t help feeling that, for the uninitiated, checking out garage music is an exercise in slumming it for a bit before retreating to the sonic safety of their Chuck Ragans and James Mercers.
If you’re like me, disjointed, fuzzy rock and roll is what brought you to The Intelligence in the first place, which means this release may get a few less spins than earlier ones do. I’m not despairing because in live performance, they have yet to fail to stir the crowd and set asses moving. There are a couple of barn burners on this album, as well.
Frontman Lars Finberg is also a member of the frantic Thee Oh Sees and glitter-sludge outfit Wounded Lion. His garage rock credentials are beyond reproach. My guess is Finberg just wanted to try a few new twists, and thank goodness for that. Nobody—with the exception of Dick Dale—wants to make the same album for 30 years running. This release chronicles some new sonic avenues for The Intelligence, though I doubt they’ll be invited to play Leno anytime soon. It doesn't even approach let-down territory. Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me is well worth purchasing, as is a ticket to the show.
The gig's lineup includes folks who’ve been active in the local scene for a decade or two. CanyonLands strut a psych-garage rumble that could veer off—at any second—in any direction. Their music is open to the moment but in no way resembles improv. Don’t you dare call them a jam band. Let’s just say CanyonLands is opportunistic. Most of its members were part of local treasures The Gatherers and Small Flightless Birds, so you can't go wrong. Mercurial and dynamic quintet Sad Baby Wolf also has a fine pedigree, featuring former members of The Giranimals, The Bellmont, The Oktober People and The Shins.