Oh, What An Honor / Oh, What A Drag
Far Lands is the culmination of over a decade of songwriting by Cincinnati native and Portland transplant Andy McFarlane.
It represents the next logical, yet unlikely, step in a slow musical evolution that saw Andy as a high school artist and an aspiring ethnomusicologist, recording Zapotec folk music in Oaxaca, Mexico while writing short prose and poetry. The 2000 release of his book of poems, prose and rhymes, Intersection was immediately followed by a move westward and inward where he quietly documented the births of his daughters and the deaths of his parents. This tangible effort of turning life and loss into a sort of musical diary was ultimately isolating as he shied away from production and performance while holding down jobs as teacher, principal and professor of education. Yet 17 years later, something has happened.
“Oh, What an Honor / Oh, What a Drag” resulted from a chance encounter with childhood friend Matt Drenik (Battleme). The two hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. After a few forays into reminiscing old Ohio folklore, they quickly moved to Drenik’s studio, Get Loud, and got about the work of making art. McFarlane’s urge to begin documenting seemed natural. His songs were primitive; tiny, primal screams of hurt and wonder. After some back and forth, the two sat down and played “Geronimo” on the piano. They believed the best way for these song vignettes to live wouldn’t be in isolation, but in full spectrum, while acknowledging the power of the initial minimalism. With Drenik playing most of the instruments, they enlisted the help of drummer Pauli Pulvirenti (Eyelids, Elliott Smith) and Ivan Howard (Rosebuds, Howard Ivans). McFarlane’s lyrical delivery widened, spanning decades in a morphed vision quest of love and evolution. Instead of clocking countless hours at rehearsals and club shows, Far Lands found a voice in the studio as a conversation between old friends.
The record clocks in at just under thirty minutes. It’s a nine song testament to the wisdom of the slow build and the beautiful absurdity that exists in the world if you’re open to it.