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Far Lands announce sophomore album 'There Be Monsters' out April 30

Photo credit: Michelle Lucille Taylor

On April 30, Portland-based band Far Lands will release their sophomore album There Be Monsters via Get Loud (pre-order). Far Lands is Andy McFarlane, producer Matt Drenik and Ivan Howard of The Rosebuds, Gayngs, Howard Ivans. Today the band is pleased to present the album’s title which debuted today at PopMatters and can also be shared at Soundcloud or Bandcamp. About the song PopMatters says, "'There Be Monsters' from Portland's Far Lands is understated but impactful and a testament to the group's attention to richly detailed songwriting." On the song Andy McFarlane says:

This is the kind of song that happens when you wake up from a dream with a melody stuck in your head and you go straight to your favorite chair and pull out that notepad that’s dedicated specifically for the first thoughts of the day, over coffee. In this case, that happened on three consecutive mornings and the resulting 40 or so verses ranged from sweet to heartbreaking, to completely goofy. After a bit of back-and-forth and a ton of laughter during the demo process, I arrived at the ones that made the cut and came the closest to telling some truth about where I was at that exact point in time.

The Pacific Northwest holds a wealth of beautiful things to get excited about: neverending pine forests and coastal views surrounded by stark, snow-capped mountains, some of the world’s finest coffee, and a blustering creative scene that leads many to migrate west. That said, it can be BLEAK, especially in the winter months where rain dominates everything. It can lead some, if not most, to reconsider and think, “maybe we should move.” Yet for those who stay, the bleak months can inspire fruitful, creative spurts. And it took a freak ice storm in Portland to bring together the two local artists who would eventually create There Be Monsters, the sophomore album from Portland indie-rock band, Far Lands. “We were recording our first album (2017’s Oh What An Honor, Oh What A Drag), and Matt (Drenik, producer) decided we needed some backing vocals," McFarlane recalls. "Next thing I knew, this lanky dude came bursting through the door with a giant scraper! PDX local, Ivan Howard, the “lanky dude” in question says, “I was going stir crazy because everything was shut down. The ice was taking its toll, so I used an old hoe I found in the shed of our rental house, and made my way on foot to the studio. It was only about a mile!”

“I couldn’t believe he showed up,” Drenik says. “I was just looking for a different voice on a song, and I figured he would just do it at home.” And so, a new chapter begins. Oh What An Honor, Oh What A Drag was drawn from about ten years of writing,” McFarlane says. “A lot of heavy emotion; processing the death of my parents, the end of my marriage. As I started writing the new album, I began to feel a bigger sense of optimism. I guess it was time to set sadness to rest." Before long, McFarlane had basic structure and chords for a handful of songs and was ready to start recording, but his main collaborator, Matt Drenik, had moved to California.

“My phone was packed with voice memos. Melodies would come to me while I slept, and I’d sit up, grab my phone, hum a little fragment, then back to sleep. Most of the time I wouldn’t even remember what it was til the next morning.”

With fragments of songs cluttering his voice memo box and arrangements beginning to fill notebook pages, McFarlane just needed someone to help form these into a record. Enter Ivan Howard. Having provided backup vocals on the Far Lands debut LP, he joined the “touring” band on bass. And since Drenik’s departure, Howard had stepped in as McFarlane’s artistic counterpart. So when the fragments started to overflow, he seemed to be a natural fit for helping McFarlane take these scattered songs into fully realized soundscapes. “Andy read me a poem, and it floored me,” Howard says. “It was so raw and honest and magical, like when I first heard Neil Young. I knew he had to put these on a record, and I knew I wanted to do it.” McFarlane, for his part, is equally effusive. “To have someone like Ivan Howard believe in your stuff is really wonderful. We sat and worked on songs for months in his home studio, letting the seeds take hold.” Howard’s list of collaborations is long and head turning. It’s not every day that the same person who shows up to the studio to offer some backing vocals is the same person that happens to be a collaborator of Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver, GANYS), and flew to Vernon’s studio to cut vocals on a Kanye West track. Howard and McFarlane entered the studio, keeping many of the core players from the last album, while tapping Howard’s rolodex for new talent (Alexandra Savior, Mel Guérison). Where “Oh, What an Honor, Oh, What a Drag” was paired down and singular in focus, “There Be Monsters” is sprawling and expansive, the technicolor tonal palettes shifting moods throughout, the usual guitars and synths augmented by soulful horns or lush strings. But the creative simplicity of recording stood in stark contrast to the developing situation in Portland, with the COVID-19 pandemic being compounded by scattered protests and calls for racial justice. The album's themes of exploring the unknown, both externally and internally, started to take on a different tone as 2020 wound on. As the sessions drew to a close and the album became ready for release, McFarlane sat back and took stock. “Releasing the album in 2020 didn’t feel right,” he says. “My story wasn’t the one the world needed to hear.” Frankly, not much has changed. The world is still aimless and unsettled, the disease still rages, and things are still tough, but it’s time for the world to hear McFarlane’s second act; one of love, growth and change. It’s a reminder to navigate these trying days with an open heart, and take comfort in the ever-expanding unknown, because maybe you’ll end up in an ice storm that will change your life.

Listen to "There Be Monsters" on Spotify:

There Be Monsters Track Listing

1. There Be Monsters 2. Oh, Molly 3. It's Time 4. Furthest 5. Gretchen 6. Noting Angles 7. Snake Bites 8. Your Photograph 9. Tied To Everything 10. Live With Me 11. One Horse Rider

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