A Lars Finberg Album Release
(by Marianne C. Spellman, via Charles M. Schulz 
and "A Charlie Brown Christmas")

{Scene: It was finally album release day, the best time of the year. The Finberg house in Bakersfield, California is preparing for celebration, their windows shining with the warm yellow glow only a tube amp could bring. The scents of ozone and fertilizer mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of saxophone skronk could be heard in the distance. Fluffy tan dust clouds tumbled up from the ground onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, riding their bikes through the industrial park. Everyone was happy and full of cheer. That is, everyone except for Lars Finberg.} 

Lars: (to Kaanan Tupper) I think there must be something wrong with me. I just don’t understand Album Release Day I guess. I might be getting congratulations and site hits and good reviews and all that, but I’m still not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. 

Kaanan: Lars Finberg, you are the only person I know who can take a wonderful event like Album Release Day and turn it into a problem. Maybe Ty Segall is right. Of all of the Lars Finbergs in the world, you are the Lars Finbergiest.

{Lars walks through the dirt, thoughtfully. Goes to his mailbox, pokes head inside. Looks disappointed because it is empty.} 

Lars: Rats! (sad). Nobody sent me a review today. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday album release season to emphasize it? 

{A Famous Music Journalist enters, reading Pitchfork on her iPhone X.} 

Lars: Thanks for the album review!(sarcastic) 

FMJ: I didn’t review your album! (proudly) 

{Lars grumpily shoves his hands into pockets, makes face.} 

Lars: Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?

{Lars walks down street, observing happy friends playing in the agricultural irrigation ditches. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but Lars Finberg was still sad. Lars sits in front of Ty Segall's psychiatric sound booth.} 

Lars: I am in sad shape… 

Ty: Now what seems to be your trouble? 

Lars: I know I should be happy during Album Release Day, but I can’t seem to manage it. 

Ty: (proudly) Well, as they say on TV, “the mere fact that you realize you need help indicates that you are not too far gone.” I think we better pinpoint your fears. If we can find out what you’re afraid of, we can label it. Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypegiaphobia. How ‘bout death? If you’re afraid of death, you have thanatophobia. Are you afraid of sex? If you are, then you have erotophobia. Maybe you have autophobia. This is a fear of loneliness. Or anthropophobia, which is the fear of people. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia? 

Lars: What’s pantophobia? 

Ty: The fear of everything. 

Lars: THAT'S IT!


"Moonlight Over Bakersfield," available now at In The Red Records and all the usual places of sale, is the first album Lars Finberg has recorded under his own name in his 20+-years career in music, which has included stints with the A-Frames and Thee Oh Sees, and of course, The Intelligence. The Intelligence was -- essentially -- Lars Finberg, as he has always composed his own songs, and often recorded and performed them himself, but the last several years has seen more involvement from a series of talented bandmates and producers in the recording process. But after over ten years in the band/project, it was finally time to step out front, shine up the ol' nameplate, and make some new sounds. Finberg, with his splinter-poke, so-hopeless-it's-hilarious lyrics, squiggly-catchy-repetitive riffs, and solid song construction, more than deserves the spotlight.

So what do you do when you want to new? You call up the hyper-prolific, super-talented musician guy who once toured wearing a baby mask who happens to have a studio and get him to produce your album, that's what. Ty Segall does his best production work yet on "Moonlight Over Bakersfield," pushing an element of power discord and strangeness into Finberg's work while somehow keeping it all focused and clean, resulting in highly listenable, beloved weirdness. 

"Moonlight Over Bakersfield" (Finberg's home town, by the way) opens with a panning tap of Kaanan Tupper's hi-hat cymbal keeping clock-steady time and ocean-wave laps of acoustic guitar in "Permanent Prowl," moving into insistent bass line bubbles and a dual sax-blast from the excellent Mikal Cronin. Finberg offers mini-snaps of single life, wondering if commitment might be a thing: "get out the pool/leave in the towel/or be stuck/permanent prowl."


{Lauren Mikus enters.} 

Lauren: I’ve been looking for you, Lars. Will you please write a lyric for me? You write it, and I’ll tell you what I want to say. 

{Lars takes pen, clipboard from Lauren} 

Lars: Okay, shoot. 

Lauren: I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of lyrics that I want. 

Lars: (sighs) Oh, brother. 

Lauren: Please note the obscurity ratio and rhyme of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just try "moon" and "June."


Bakersfield Moonlighter Lauren Marie Mikus duets with Lars in "Born Shopping," nicely channeling the B-52's and including the very very Seattle lyric, "I get excited/when I'm invited/but it is rare/I show up there."


Ty: Look, let’s face it. We all know that music is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, ya know.

Lars: Well, this is one album that’s not going to be commercial. What it needs is the proper mood. We need a fuzz box. 

{Ty claps with excitement.}


"Isle of Lucy" takes the fuzz, compresses it until it's metal flakes on buttered toast, and serves it up searing hot. In this song, Finberg answers the ultimate in existential questioning with, "That's all there is/that's all there was/set fire to Eden/just 'cause."

Pantophobia gets its own ode in "Benevolent Panic," a chugging, '70s-glam rocker overflowing with distorted guitar and snaky saxophone.

Our friend from The Intelligence, Mr. Machine, returns to take his first vocal run on the supremely-odd "Myopic Blue Heaven" in multi-layers of vocoder so thick you definitely need the lyric sheet. In the end, I think Mr. Machine floats off the planet, and really, who could blame him these days?

It's a measure of Finberg's musical slyness that the boppy "Empty Network," a scathing rebuke of the American medical insurance system, opens with the suggestion of sirens, and segues into "Iffy Love" with the rapid beeps of a medical device alert.

Anyone who's been though a horror-show romantic breakup (or several of them) can relate to "Iffy Love," where grief and anger are drowned in bottles of wine and hope anchored to the bottom of the ocean with cement soul-blocks. Yet time always does its thing: "But now there are cracks/where the light might react/Iffy love get your/gardening gloves." Shana Cleveland of La Luz drops in a sweet guitar solo and vocals here.


{Lars and Kaanan end up at Going Underground record store in Bakersfield. Go to vinyl section in the "F" section, in a simple wooden rack, finding a copy of "Moonlight Over Bakersfield."} 

Kaanan: Gee, I didn’t know they still made the vinyls.

Lars: This one seems to need a home. 

Kaanan: I don’t know, remember what the kids said? This doesn’t seem to fit the modern spirit, what with Spotify and all. 

Lars: I don’t care! We’ll play it, and it will be just right. Besides, I think it needs me.


Kaanan takes a break and The Melvins' Coady Willis takes over on drums on the galloping "I'm Welcome" (and later on "Alone Alas"). Wiggly synth descending notes lead into a a burst of ROCK, panic meets privilege and can only say, "no."


{Lars and Kaanan return to the Finberg home, place album on record player.} 

Lars: We’re back! 

{Bakersfield locals and Los Angeles-based VIPs gather around record player.} 

Famous Music Journalist: Boy, are you stupid, Lars Finberg. You were supposed to send Dropbox links. Can’t you even tell a piece of plastic from an MP3? 

Former High School Classmate: (sighs) You’re hopeless, Lars Finberg.

{All laugh, exit.}


I hadn't ever thought about the concept of "Ambiverts" until I heard this song: the idea that one can be neither an extrovert nor an introvert, but both! Finberg seems to struggle with it a bit, but I think it's pretty ideal, actually. 

Charlie Brown, err...Lars, I mean, ends "Moonlight Over Bakersfield" in a desolate hellscape of his own making, filled with burning tires, frying wires, and self-loathing regrets in "Alone Alas," vocals echoing into the "great unknown." Yet, somehow, the level of self-awareness seems to hint at a chance for redemption, as the song loops and lopes to conclusion.


{Lars is alone by the record player. Kaanan approaches.} 

Lars: I guess you were right Kaanan; I shouldn’t have picked this record. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I don’t really know what Album Release Day is about. Isn’t there anyone who understands what Album Release Day is all about? 

Kaanan: Sure, I can tell you what Album Release Day is all about.

{Kaanan goes to center stage, spotlight.}

Kaanan: “And there were in the same country, music fans abiding in the field, keeping watch over their records by night. And lo, the Sacred Album Reviewer came upon them, and the glory of the Musical Descriptive Adjectives shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the Reviewer said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is released this day in the city of Bakersfield and worldwide an album, which is super cool. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the record wrapped in a neat cover resting in the record store, or easily purchased from a digital music service.’ And suddenly, there was with the Reviewer a multitude of Reviewers, praising The Album and saying, ‘Glory to music in the highest, and on Earth peace or some semblance of peace, good will toward men, women, and non-binary gendered.’”

{Kaanan picks up his drumsticks, walks back to record player.} 

Kaanan: That’s what Album Release Day is all about, Lars Finberg. 

{Silence. Lars picks up his album, smiles. Walks outside, stares at sky.}

Everyone: Merry Album Release Day, Lars Finberg!