Half Acre Day
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Half Acre Day

| Established. Jan 01, 1994 | SELF

| SELF
Established on Jan, 1994
Band Alternative Pop

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Half Acre Day is a band that should finally be taken note of. If you enjoy a band that makes serious music while keeping a sense of humor in tact, look no further then Fourteen Trips Around the Sun for your fix. - Jennifer Patton


Half Acre Day are five guys from Seattle who have been making music for over a decade. I don't know much about them except for that they appear to enjoy dressing alike, at least two of them are fans of the moustache, and perhaps they once got lost in tall greenery. In addition, their bio talks about mathematical formulae, ossicles oscillating, and toast. I'm a big fan of that last one, and two out of three ain't bad.

But seriously, take these songs out for a spin. The sounds coming from their MySpace player are absolutely heavenly, and I've been listening to them all morning on the recommendation of a reader who saw them play in Seattle and wrote to say that they had "a Grandaddy thing going on." I hear that, plus touchstones like the Shins and Swimmers and Fruit Bats.

One reviewer called this widescreen indie-pop, which I loved because I definitely hear a charmingly evocative quality here that would fit right into a quirky independent film-festival release. With the chiming melodies, the playful lyrics and intelligent songwriting, these songs have an immediate impact that make my eardrums euphoric.

What a way to start the year; pretty sure that it's humanly impossible to dislike these songs. If there's any justice in the world, Half Acre Day could be huge in '08. - Heather Browne


A study of Half Acre Day is bound to bring up some very uncomfortable facts. Take for instance that Fourteen Trips Around the Sun contains a song called 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar predicts the end will come. Then there is a song here called ÒBIOTA,Ó and another called ÒAstronautÓ that features the line ÒMake friends with a dolphin and donÕt ever fight, cause no matter what, the dolphinÕs always right.Ó It seems from these songs and more that the guys in the band have a thing for the end times and nature. The odd thing is that everyone is obsessed with those things now, which makes this collection of expansive pop numbers, intertwined with steady danceable rhythms, melodic synthesizer melodies and bright brilliant harmonies accessible to non-conspiracy theorists. And thank Gaia for that.

Standout tracks: ÒAnemones,Ó ÒAstronautÓ - Mark Baumgarten


After a couple of well-regarded EPs, Washington-based H.A.D. deliver a superior full-length that nails their reputation as a forward-looking widescreen pop band that evokes the magnificence of peers like The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Jayhawks & Grandaddy. - Kevin Matthews


The quality of writing, singing, and developed arrangements never wavers. Out of a stack of typically mediocre releases, this is like food to a starving pop Shackleton stuck in the Antarctic ice. - Jack Rabid


This is the sound of a band who has taken their time to craft something exactly the way they wanted to, and it's STILL all about the massive songwriting skills shown here. - Nathan


The cover art of Seattle-based Half Acre Day's second release reveals a sly sense of humor-children fly kites from rooftops, oblivious that one of them has tumbled off--and the music delivers on the cover's promise. This peppy piece of power pop fittingly kicks off with the chiming guitars and distorted organ of "Limo." But "Let's All Get Together" sums up the disc best, as a shimmery sunshine sound with peaks through overcast words: "Listen to the good vibrations fill the atmosphere like bacon / We'll paint Seattle brown." From jangly guitar to prog-rock keyboards, Half Acre Day offers a Saturday morning cartoon kind of happy matched with darker lyrical content, offering the chance to think a little--while you smile and bob your head. - Mark Davis


07/17/2006

Smacking of summer charm, the website for Half Acre Day shows a group of children innocently flying kites from the rooftops.

Bedecked in vibrant colors, the cheerily drawn kids stand on orange and blue buildings, against an azure sky. It all seems, well, pleasant, until you guide the pointer over the middle child.

The move acts like a catapult, launching the kid into a quick plummet off the face of the page. His green kite flies off screen in the opposite direction - a morbid farewell indeed - and none of the other kids notice.

Then, a mere second later, he reappears on top of the building, as if nothing had ever happened. But if you leave the pointer in the same spot, he’ll keep on making his little trip into oblivion, which is disturbingly fun.

It makes for a perfect introduction to the quintet hailing from the rain-sodden climes of Seattle, and the story behind it does not disappoint.

“Those images come from an Indian poster of bad behaviors,” says Matt Kristiansen, guitarist and lead vocalist for the band. “Flying kites on rooftops, the poster contends, is an unwise thing to do, as evidenced by the kid who falls off, ostensibly to a grisly death…Like all the best youthful diversions, fireworks, throwing rocks at cars, etc. this is highly entertaining and potentially disfiguring. It’s a winning combination.”

Kristiansen approaches his lyrics with a similar double-barreled mentality (and it isn’t just his pipes that are reminiscent of the two Johns from They Might Be Giants on that front). He creates ironic imagery through a quirky and sometimes dark subject matter, bringing a catchy style that’s difficult to dislike and even harder to predict.

The music itself is well-produced, well-written and well-suited for an early morning drive to pluck mushrooms. The band comfortably swings from the breezier branches of indie rock to the significantly lower-hanging limbs of grunge, acknowledging both the beauty of the heavens and the reality of Earth.

Their song ‘Sayonara’ could be the international hit of 2006. It has an absolutely perfect pop structure, punctuated by excellent synth lines, regal horn bursts and a suspensively creeping guitar riff. Ironically, it's one of Freud’s psychoanalytic techniques that we have to thank for it.

“Lyrically, it was the result of free-association, which is something I do a lot, writing down the first things that came into my mind without allowing myself more than a couple seconds pause,” says Kristiansen. “Of course, those first things always really suck, but something usually emerges if I keep going. I had a friend going through a really rough time when the album came out, and she asked me one day if I had written ‘Sayonara’ about her. I said I didn’t know, I had written the song almost a year before, but hell, maybe so. Mostly I think it’s about a face-punching robot that roams the streets of Tokyo at night,” he finishes.

The story behind ‘Don’t Fool Around’ is a little more mysterious. Kristiansen says he wrote the song almost entirely under the influence of pharmaceutical-grade heroin, whilst stuck in a hospital bed. “I heard, plain as day, weird voices singing that refrain over and over,” he remembers. “Don’t fool around when the devil wants to bring you down. It became a sort of mantra I carried around through a difficult time, where I was battling some nasty demons," he says, pausing. "But again, I could be way off.”

Half Acre Day (also known as H.A.D.) began when Kristiansen, Matt Cory, Marty Ballew and Aaron McMullen met while attending music and art classes together in college. Paul Beaudry eventually joined in on keys, and the band has since released two amazing albums; Primo de la Rocket Suit in 2002, and the self-titled sophomore effort in late 2005, which was produced by Martin Feveyear (Modest Mouse & Queens of the Stone Age).

At press time, the band is hard at work on their third effort, which will again feature the excellent production skills of Feveyear. If the band can continue to build on their already airtight sound, it could be the album that blows the H.A.D. out of the Pacific Northwest. They can then bid farewell to day jobs as graphic designers, electricians, futon-builders and high school video production teachers.

Considering the fact that the band has already spent 10 years establishing themselves in Seattle (where the music scene is generally regarded as being quite difficult to break into) the tipping point could be coming up soon.

“There are a million bands here, 250,000 of which are quite good, and 250,000 others who are masterful self promoters, which has never been our strong suit,” says Kristiansen. “We spent years operating on the fringe, and in a bit of a bubble before anyone ever noticed us. But we look on this as a good thing. It allowed us to develop together and tighten up both musically and as mates. Luckily, we weren't burdened by the success and money that tear so many bands apart.”

Indeed, the outfit has built quite the foundation on their half acre.

Kristiansen says the name comes from an amalgam of space and time, in an attempt to measure time using two-dimensional spatial units. “It's very scientific, involving complex algorithms, equations and the like,” he says. “There are currently only five people on the planet who fully understand it, but in the future it will provide the energy necessary to maintain the amenities we enjoy today, such as toast.”

Well, who can object to toast? - Matt Lehtola


"Quirky lyrics, engaging melody and more enjoyment than watching a bag of cats."

"I'm turning into a fan. Your songs are never quite what I'm expecting- but I always seem to love them."

"The many nuances of H.A.D. confound."

"Not since The Tommrowpeople have a had an ear crush on a band like yours. Injecting." - user reviews


Although it has nothing to do with me liking the music of Half Acre Day, itÕs very tough to argue with any group that, after some very light correspondence, sends you a high-quality fake mustache that can be bent and fashioned into the ÒhandlebarÓ and other dashing styles. Cunning.

Anyway, IÕve been raving about Tegan and SaraÕs latest (The Con) as probably the album that most rattled my shutters in 2007 Ð and while there have been plenty of other releases that IÕve really taken to (New Pornographers, Weakerthans, Deerhoof, The Shins, The National, Ted Leo, Peachfuzz, The Mooney Suzuki, Rilo Kiley, etc.), they just didnÕt have as immediate an impact. I am happy to report that Seattle songsters Half Acre Day have punctured that bubble with their latest release ÒFourteen Trips Around The Sun.Ó

As the brilliant opener ÒAnemonesÓ faded from my speakers after the first of many consecutive spins, I knew I was gonna like these fellows. But was this going to be an album that I could get on board with Ð I mean, a full, coherent collection of songs that I wanted to listen to repeatedly as a collection, even in this cherry pickinÕ age of digital music? You bet.


On this latest outing in particular, HAD sometimes hits me like the Pacific NorthwestÕs answer to Guster, if they were a bit more spare and atmospheric in their arrangements and had a traditional drummer. Not that drummer Aaron McMullen is what youÕd call traditional Ð heÕs funky and technical yet economical, and so precise that you could set your watch by his beats. But in general this release seems to favor songs anchored by layers of expertly arranged acoustic guitars with airy overtones and some psychedelic pixie dust sprinkled on top.

YouÕve also got five very competent musicians, writers, and singers here who are amazingly able to use their diversity and subtle stylistic preferences to craft a finely nuanced and pleasantly varying whole rather than what the Moxy FrŸvous records used to sound like Ð a different group on every track. IÕm not saying that there isnÕt some charm in that (see Ween), but like I said, thatÕs what separates an album from a collection of singles.

There seems to be a preoccupation with the not-too-distant future on this disc, equally cast in an optimistic and foreboding light. The eerily prophetic ÒTurning Into StarsÓ would be exhibit A. ÒAstronautsÓ is a mini folk-rock opera a-la Sleep Station, ÒMedianÓ strongly displays the vocal harmonic influence of the Beatles, and Ò2012Ó has a My Morning Jacket vibe. Those are some highlights, but there isnÕt a bad track on here Ð this is highly recommended listening.

Plus, back to that mustacheÉitÕs always nice when bands have a sense of humor, and HAD isnÕt lacking there. However, their humor mainly manifests itself in their artwork, liner notes, and their Teddy Roosevelt type mascot Ð and perhaps in a song title or two (ÒStay On TargetÓ) and some of the instrumentation (I didnÕt necessarily hear ÒRoseannÕs feetÓ but was glad to see them credited). But thankfully, it doesnÕt infiltrate the music so deeply that it obscures the sentiment Ð and it never ventures into the goofy. LetÕs just stick with good-natured.

So, did I already mention that this is highly recommended listening? Good. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. And while youÕre at it, check out earlier releases ÒHalf Acre DayÓ and ÒPrimo De La Rocket SuitÓ, which, to my shock and awe, are equally competent. Where have these fellows been hiding? Well, youÕve been exposed now! Show yourselves! - Russ Starke


Discography

"Fourteen trips Around The Sun" - LP 2007
Reached #158 on CMJ Charts

"Half Acre Day" - LP 2005
Three Imaginary Girls Top Local Releases of 2005
Top Ten of 2005 - FizzlePop

"Primo de la Rocket Suit" - LP 2002
Re-released to radio Sept. 2008

"Here is Something Fun for You to Do. Color this Picture." - EP 1998

"Our Demo Tape" - EP 1997

"Chocolate Feast" - LP 1996 unreleased

"Dad Said" - EP 1995

Photos

Bio

Half Acre Day wreak green aural potions through conduits of wood, metal and sinew. This is evidenced in the prior works Primo de la Rocket Suit, Half Acre Day, and Fourteen Trips Around the Sun

As part of this ongoing alchemical experiment, these extraordinary sonicians will be releasing one song in each month of this lunar calendar year.

thesixtyone.com user reviews:

"Quirky lyrics, engaging melody and more enjoyment than watching a bag of cats."

"I'm turning into a fan. Your songs are never quite what I'm expecting- but I always seem to love them."

"The many nuances of H.A.D. confound."

"Not since The Tommrowpeople have a had an ear crush on a band like yours. Injecting."

Band Members