The Eastern Sea
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The Eastern Sea

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




"thoughtfully written lyrics and a passion that formed as profusely as the thousands of beads of sweat that splashed onto the stage... a step above other indie artists working to be heard in the folk rock type of genre. It’s not necessarily something you’ve heard all over town, and appealing in it’s individuality."

"Their recently released self-titled debut EP is beautifully subtle but rich in harmonies and delicate unwinding textures, with touches of Iron and Wine or Seven Swans-era Sufjan Stevens." -

"KUT 90.5 Texas Music Matters"

"Perhaps one of my favorite discoveries of the past year...if this tune [The Menu] (and the entire EP for that matter) is indicative of this band’s future, I think Austin and the rest of the indie-pop world will be hearing a lot from this homegrown act for a while."

"The variety and intricate layering of instrumentation in their songs conjures images of icebergs floating through the ocean with only the tips breaking the surface. Their songs are massive numbers but pleasantly restrained with plenty of room for the vocalists to paint a picture." - KUT 90.5

"Space City Rock Review"

"once the ringing in my head had died down, I absolutely couldn't find the words -- all I could think to say was, "that was fucking perfect." And it was. I've only seen a handful of shows over the years that have really hit the mark, and this was one of 'em. If there was a wrong note, a wrong moment, anywhere in there, I couldn't find it." - Space City Rock Blog

"The Austinist"

"Wistful and hauntingly beautiful, The Eastern Sea transcends the listener to a completely different era of music." -

"Austin Chronicle"

"One of the 'Nine Locals to Watch in 2009'."

- Austin Chronicle

"Daily Texan Weekend Feature"

Medley makes mastery:
Folk band utilizes academic background for a depth of sound

As I approach the house of the band the eastern sea off Ben White Boulevard. I notice the single jack-o-lantern next to a pile of shoes on the front porch. I ring the doorbell and am greeted by front man and guitarist Matthew Hines and his roommate’s hyperactive boxer, Penny. Hines excuses the mess (they moved in two months ago), walks me back through the music room with various instruments splayed across the aged carpet and onto the screened-in back porch, streamed with red Christmas lights.
As we wait for roommate, bassist, percussionist and vocalist Tomas Olano to finish showering, we dive right into a discussion on politics and religion. Hines, a religious studies and English writing and rhetoric major who graduated with a 4.0 from St. Edwards University in May, is confident as he talks about how he believes politicians are heavily influenced by religion and the world’s governments not nearly as secular as people believe.
For a group that calls themselves minimalists, it is immediately apparent that The Eastern Sea is far more dynamic than they give themselves credit for — Olano said they are one of the dorkiest bands out there. They are comprised of five permanent members and four occasional contributors that create a gentle folk sound with instruments that range from guitar to trumpet, from organ to viola. Their lyrics are dripped in emotions that run far deeper than the layers of sound that seem to bleed off their songs.
Olano joins us on the porch as soon as the crickets begin their night shift on the lawn, and Hines transitions into how the impending apocalypse influences policy making. Olano chimes in with some melodramatic comic relief.
“We don’t just play guitar chords,” Olano said. “We also change lives — through slam poetry and coffee breaks.”
As a soon-to-be Spanish, Portuguese, literature and political science graduate of St. Edwards, Olano also has a repertoire that leaves little left to be desired. The son of Argentinean immigrants, he recalls his childhood in Argentina that broke down any existing social hierarchies and motivated him to pursue Latin American studies.
Olano interns at Caritas of Austin teaching life-skill classes to low-income residents and immigrants in the morning and working at the child-care program in the afternoons. He said that this is the “skim milk of it,” but having that perspective growing up and seeing the changes directly makes the experience especially rewarding. But, they don’t intend to sing their praises.
“I don’t mean to come off as a knight in shining armor,” Olano said. “I think we can all do more in a million regards. But, yeah, we work on our transitions in each of our stages and go from there.”
“You just have to prevent yourself from being a dumb, uncreative American — that is what I learned in soccer when I was a kid,” Hines added. “We can’t do it all, but we can try a little, you know, you can’t just…”
“It’s got to be honest,” Olano insightfully interrupted.
“… You can’t sit around and eat burgers all day,” Hines said.
Transitions have played a major role in the development of the band. All five members “met in the scene” in high school while playing in different groups in Houston. Hines created The Eastern Sea as a solo project in summer of 2005 before he attended college.
“I spent three years writing. All the time,” he said while he snapped, snapped, snapped in unison with his words. “Recording. All the time. Playing new stuff because no one really cared what I played because no one was listening to it.”
But after two years of playing on stage alone, he solicited the help of Olano, Zach Duran (percussion), Jess Graves (organ, piano, vocals) and Kevin Thomas (bass and trumpet). They dove straight into recording their first album, a self-titled EP in spring 2008 and released it that July. But, the recording process led to a disconnect when they heard the final product.
“What is really interesting is we had a basic idea of arrangement and recorded that really fast,” Olano said. “But we kept on getting better and better, right? And we were like ‘Fuck, we already have that recorded,’ so we kind of grew upon those recordings that were already there, and it came out really well. But it was weird at the same time to realize that these songs had transformed by the time we actually released it. It wasn’t the same, I mean, at all.”
This drastic transformation is representative of the members’ musical backgrounds and their current medley of sounds that focus on mood and tone that drench their music. Hines said that he came from a “very set-up and very, very structured” place and Olano came out of a “thrown-together, collaged kind of thing.”
This musical collaboration of contradictions from all members contributed to their success around Austin — The Austin Chronicle voted them One of the Nine Locals to Watch in 2009. They also performed at the Houston Free Press Summerfest in August and were recently invited to headline at the Westheimer Block Party in the spring. Their success, however, has not settled with them yet.
“We are playing with Japanther and Dead Prez, and that makes no sense,” Olano said. “I am just waiting for Dave Chappelle to show up and introduce the show. We are super happy about it.”
With their second EP — EP II, due out in November — they tried to tether a string of similarity to their previous work and its success. Even before their second EP is released, they are already working on a future full-length album but still want to “do justice” to their previous work.
“You owe those old songs something good,” Hines said. “You owe those old songs — you owe them some duty to follow up.”
“I think they are like a stepping block,” Olano added.
Throughout the conversation, members Zach Duran and Kevin Thomas joined us as talk turned to personal theme parks, waffles versus pancakes, what would be the ultimate food for a pool filling and, finally, a brief discussion on porn that ultimately led back to their academic roots and spurred commentary on women’s rights — further evidence of the group’s intellectual stamina.
The conversation ended exactly where it began. As I sat around the table with four of the members of The Eastern Sea on their back porch, cigarette smoke swirling in the red lights, Hines profoundly summed up the entire evening.
“[Mystery is] a dual feeling … you feel at the same time empowered by the fact that you are not constrained by anything, but also very little in the fact that you are a spec of dust in a giant universe,” Hines said.
“So you have this hope that there is stuff out there that, I don’t know, there’s new things to see, there’s always more to do. But also, there’s unlimited opportunity. And this is my musical philosophy. Because there is an unlimited opportunity to do anything, but you have to make a choice. There is ultimate mystery and then there is defying ultimate mystery — by creating something concrete.”
- Daily Texan

"Review: The Eastern Sea - The Witness"

2014, SXSW. Somewhere near the middle of The Eastern Sea’s set at a BBQ joint, after ‘Boy in blue’ ends and ‘Young nones’ begins, I realise this is one of those gigs I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Not only it’s the last show I’ll see in Austin in this little trip of mine, but it feels like the culmination of a strange events and shows. I’ve seen the band 5 times in a week and I still can do another 5, no problem.

All the songs are new ones. Well, most. They eventually play ‘The Match’ for a few hardcore fans that were clamouring for it and although it’s the one song that introduced me to them, it’s no longer my fave. I was going to save that prize for the next album.

A good 18 months later, The Witness, the album played that night, was finally released. For the past months, I would listen to it while driving through the crowded streets of Mexico, while reading on the metro or simply at night, at the precise moment insomnia and restlessness came to play Texas Hold’em. All that live energy, the ferocity of the drums, the grooveness of the bass and guitar duality, that innuendo-filled trumpet and the oozing synths are perfectly captured in this Decalogue of identity, break ups and self-reflection.

‘Horus, a chorus’ sets the mood for the entire album; a little stick of incense with an aroma that will linger until the very end. The one-two punch that is ‘Boy in Blue’ and ‘Something Sweet’, the two songs vying for my spot on the “fave The Eastern Sea track of all time” are perfectly captured. Shit, I think they might be even better than I remembered (and I bootlegged one show).

The bipolar nature of ‘Boy in blue’ is wonderful, with that wistful descending chord arrangement in the keyboards melting into the decisive drumming. The urgency of the last half of the song sells the point smoothly: we all are contradictions, we all are that eternally reflected boy reflected in a pair of mirrors set in front of each other. The shades of green and blue fade into oblivion. Picking up the energy is ‘Something Sweet’, a jazz and funk groove that is curiously upbeat but sad. Again we go with the juxtaposition, because opposites attract and push the ideas even farther.

It’s a swift trick, akin to sleight of hand, to make bitterness seem palatable. Hiding it into layers of self-reflection and longing and still being able to convey that frustration is proper magic. ‘Field Mouse Sea Lion’ and ‘Young Nones’ dabble in these dark arts, as they make terrible situations feel almost welcome. ‘Field Mouse Sea Lion’ is full of regret, ‘Young Nones’ is wistful and earnest. Both are keepers.

Now, for those who prefer a fresh slice of indie pop, ‘The Curse’ and ‘Silver Spoon’ will be your port in the storm of emotions that The Witness stirs. ‘The Curse’ keeps that seventies pop palette The Eastern Sea wields with perfect dexterity, with the emotions painted matching the colours of the album’s artwork. If you fancy a more relaxed approach, ‘A wave goodbye’ and ‘The Fool’ should be up your street. Just be warned, they feel “off” because there is something else skulking in the back: the songs could seem harmless, but there’s something there, ready to rip you apart if you lower your guard.

And there is a moment where you will be caught off guard. A song that is so majestic in its pop perfection, but also as harmful as smoking chromium cigars in a shed full of benzene. This daft analogy barely matches the bluntness of ‘Baseball’, the showstopping moment in The Witness. The chant, half-sports, half-warcry, sets the stage for a manic night drive through the five heads and hearts of The Eastern Sea. You will not come out unscathed and that brutal solo barely scratches the surface of the track’s importance.

Why? Because this is the track that defines The Eastern Sea‘s sound. At least from when they started this adventure with The Witness until they start tracking a new album. ‘Baseball’ gathers the nostalgic sounds, the heart-wrenching lyrics and the musical prowess that is The Eastern Sea in this period of time. A brutal machine of pop that is as well oiled and timed as a Swiss watch. With every tick and tock, it seeps through every pore and stays there, forever haunting every nook and cranny of the vast cathedral that makes your soul.

So, yes, if you scrunch your nose at the term “indie pop” and dismiss it as “something you’d like in 2010” with a sneering tone, please, put your cynicism to the side for an hour and take a trip through the many boroughs that make The Eastern Sea‘s expansive musical city. It’s a trip well worth it and let’s hope The Witness is but one of many picturesque districts.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López - Sloucher

"The Eastern Sea share bonus acoustic version of "The Curse""

Ahead of their upcoming North American tour, Austin’s The Eastern Sea are sharing a stripped-down take of The Witness standout “The Curse”.

As they’ve released some of the most intriguing indie-pop of the last half-decade, the band have built a readily identifiable sound shaped from lush orchestral arrangements and diverse instrumentation. It might seem strange, then, to release a bare acoustic rendition of one of the best tracks they’ve ever put to tape.

But “The Curse (Acoustic)” is the rare alternate take that adds to the listener’s understanding of both the song and the band.

Though currently a five-piece, The Eastern Sea began as the bedroom project of frontman and primary songwriter Matthew Hines. This acoustic rendition is not just a stripped-down version of a track built layer by layer in the studio, then, but the rare glimpse of a song as it was originally conceived.

The horns of the album version are gone, replaced by a fingerpicked acoustic and a slightly rawer vocal delivery; “The Curse” always had an air of melancholy, but it’s impossible to escape here. That this could be transformed into the disco-funk highlight that appears on The Witness is a testament to the band. That it sounds just as engaging in this rendition, that it's capable of transforming the way you hear the album cut... well, that's a testament to the songwriting ability of Matthew Hines. He had this to say:

"'The Curse' is a song about resisting the inevitable - aging, missed opportunity, the decay of friendships, creative failing, etc. While all of these things seem scary at first, accepting them as part of life can be a liberating experience.

This particular acoustic arrangement was how the song was originally conceived, so after the experience of developing a bigger, more elaborate sound for the track, releasing an intimate and melancholy version seemed like a fitting homage to the song’s theme. It acts almost like a time capsule for the song, giving us (and hopefully our fans!) a new perspective on the creation of our album The Witness.”

Catch The Eastern Sea during their US tour on the dates below. Purchase the album via iTunes UK here. - The Line of Best Fit

"Video Premiere: "The Fool" by The Eastern Sea"

Out of Austin, Texas, The Eastern Sea is Matthew Hines (vocals/guitar), Kevin Thomas (trumpet), Tomas Garcia-Olano (bass), Andy Beaudoin (drums), and Kurt Lammers (keyboards). The band has released three albums: a self-titled debut in 2009, Plague in 2012, and their latest, The Witness, which came out last November. (All are available on Bandcamp).

Today’s video premiere is a fun, quirky, slightly creepy adventure about two crazy kids who get mixed up in love…and other stuff. We have no idea whether or not the plot has anything to do with the song — delicate, stately, emotionally resonant — but it’s an inspired pairing nonetheless. Do yourself a favor and watch it. - The Big Takeover


"The Eastern Sea EP" - released July 2008.
1. The Night
2. The Menu
3. The Floor
4. This is Holborn

Split 7" Vinyl Record w/ News on the March- released Spring 2009.
1. Untitled
2. The Sea

"EPII" - Released November 2009.
1. The Mountain
2. The Sea
3. The Name
4. Your House

"Plague" - Debut LPTo Be Released in Feb. 2012

1. Plague
2. Wasn't For Love
3. So Long/Either Way
4. Santa Rosa
5. America
6. Say Yes
7. The Match
8. China Untitled 1
9. Central Cemetery
10. There You Are
11. A Lie
12. The Line



At times, it is easy for The Eastern Sea to forget that Austin, Texas is home. And for that reason, their self-titled record (in two parts) plays much like an anti-travelogue, a recollection of distant places that tend to mimic their own somehow foreign neighborhoods.

Musically, The Eastern Sea combines swelling post-rock-like percussion, energetic and melodic bass guitar, lofty wurlizter, synthesizer pads, and finger-picked guitar that can either float above the ground or come down like a ton of bricks.

As a band, The Eastern Sea tends to mimic their own musical aesthetic, sometimes swelling to a massive 11-piece collective featuring string and brass instruments, and sometimes distilling the sound to the core of singer/songwriter Matthew Hines.

The sound and unique sense of place heard on The Eastern Sea's two-part self-titled release also has much to do with the band's unique recording and music writing process. Having just graduated from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas as valedictorian of his senior class, Hines has had to work to create something special despite an often insane schedule.

As the band continues to grow on a regional and national level, what 90.5 KUT, Austin's nationally-renowned public radio, has said of the band certainly rings true.

"Austin and the rest of the indie-pop world will be hearing a lot from this act for awhile."

Band Members