signal to the ocean estate
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signal to the ocean estate

McDonald, Pennsylvania, United States

McDonald, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Folk Acoustic

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BY MARGARET WELSH

Revolving: The Lost Sea
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More (581)...When talking about The Lost Sea, it's good to specify exactly what you mean. It could refer to singer-songwriter Sean Atkins, or to Atkins plus his core band, singer/keyboardist Becki Gallagher and bassist Andrew Belsick. Or it could be all of them, plus the several other various musicians who have filled in and helped out over the band's busy (and short) three-month existence.

"We're the kind of band where we don't really know who's in the band, ever," Atkins says. "We'd like to have a permanent lineup."

But then again, Atkins doesn't seem too worried about the revolving band. It hasn't stopped The Lost Sea from playing several shows a month. In fact, the uncertainty of the situation has given the band the kind of flexibility that has allowed its members -- or at least some configuration of them -- to play so often.

Atkins, who only started writing music seriously about a year and a half ago, got his sea-legs playing open-mic nights at Club Café and the Rex Theatre. "I thought it was going to be easier," he remembers. "When I stood up there and started playing, I looked around and a few people weren't paying attention. I realized how hard it can be to stare out at this room of disinterested people."

That experience gave Atkins a cutthroat attitude toward his own songs. "I'll write a song a day and throw most of them out," he says. "If you play something bad, people aren't going to care about it."

Anchored by a band and filled out by Gallagher's vocals, Atkins' songs have a warm but lonely pop sound which fans have compared to Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, and -- most often -- Pedro the Lion. Atkins had never heard of Pedro the Lion before being told he sounded like singer David Bazan, but he now grants there is some similarity. "We have the same bark, the same forlorn whine," he says.

Local indie label The Atomic Family released The Lost Sea's first EP, Empty Swings, in June. The Lost Sea seems the odd band out among the label's other, punkier acts, including the Smut Project and the (now defunct) Maxi Pads. But Atkins says the cooperative spirit of The Atomic Family fits his band perfectly. "There's a perception that they're a punk label," he says. "It's not just punk. It's a bunch of bands that support each other because it's the right thing to do."



The Lost Sea, Signal to the Ocean Estate, Jacob Hope and Jason Calhoun. 9 p.m. Fri., July 11. Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, 4412 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-8611 or www.myspace.com/polishpartyhouse


- Pittsburgh City Papee


Pittsburgh’s, The Lost Sea is a great, American, easy listen. They’re an organic, rootsy, pilgrimage of sorts; a band that is right off the bat simple and understandably likeable. I’m sure almost anyone will appreciate The Lost Sea. At times I hear the intimacy and simplicity in storytelling of Ray Lamontagne and at other times I’m reminded of early Counting Crows.

The opener, So Little to Lose, is a waltzy joy ride. Rootsy harmonies bring this song to life and it’s a great start to the rest of the EP. The chorus lifts and the song really succeeds when Sean’s vocals soar in the gritty bridge. His voice sounds best in this register and torment.

Warmer Weather is a gentle piano tune that lilts itself into your ears. Its written with a hooky chorus to please – anyone will be able to sing along by the last chorus. Empty Swings speeds things up a bit with a fun, up tempo, resonance. It sounds like a warm September day. Again, Sean’s vocals soar and make any Adam Duritz fan happy. The song is most complimented with the distant ride and crash cymbals – a great production value.

Goodnight, Goodnight is a simple stripped-down acoustic song that feels like your sitting on the patio around a fire pit enjoying the cool night and the company of a musician and friend. The EP concludes with a slow waltz in, Phone Calls. The harmonies are great and really support the overall song. The verses are low in Sean’s register – not his forte, but resolution is had on the choruses – he nails it near perfectly. Phone Calls puts the EP to bed nicely.

The overall instrumentation is simple with the acoustic strum holding rhythm responsibilities, a simple textured drum beat, and jangly guitars and keys to please - it’s a mature folksy/alt-country sound that they seem to understand and execute most successfully. So whether you’re a fan of Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, or Jars of Clay, I think you’ll really take a ride with these guys.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to stop by The Lost Sea’s website and mark your calendar for a live concert. - awakenmusic.blogspot.com


Local quintet The Lost Sea plays mellow, rustic, harmony-laden alt-pop.

The leadoff tracks "So Little to Lose" and "Warmer Weather" wouldn't be out of place on Triple-A radio or an episode of "Austin City Limits." So why is its debut EP released on Atomic Family, a label that has up to now mostly showcased acts from the area's DIY folk-punk scene? Songwriter/guitarist Sean Atkins explains how these two seemingly disparate musical threads merged.

"The Lost Sea started as my own solo acoustic project," he recalls. "It felt boring to play, like the songs were empty, so I wanted to expand the sound and make it more dynamic."

Atkins was friendly with pianist Becki Gallagher (of indie-pop band Bridgley Moore) and bassist Andrew Belsick, so they hopped on board and searched for other musicians through Craigslist. Though the EP was recorded with another friend, Chris Weaver, on drums, the lineup eventually settled down with new drummer Frank Schlatterer and lead guitarist Andre Cuneo.

This isn't Atkins' first band to hit local venues. Scenesters from the turn of the decade might remember him from emo band Owen's Ring (at the time when emo still meant emotional indie-rock songs, not hairspray, eyeliner, and self-cutting). "I was listening to the Promise Ring and Pedro The Lion -- all that stuff on Jade Tree Records -- and also older guys like Tom Petty and Johnny Cash."

More recently, the weekly AcoustiCafe event at Club Cafe gave Atkins the confidence he needed to flesh out his own compositions. "My friends told me I should go see how people feel about the songs, and start hitting up open mics. [AcoustiCafe] is a supportive environment where everyone wants to get better. You can go up to someone like Brad Yoder, who has played acoustic for a while. Everyone there has been really great and helped me out a lot."

His decision to associate with Atomic Family came from South Hills boyhood chum (and label honcho) Erik Grieco. "He had seen us live, and a few weeks later I mentioned to him that we were working on an EP [recorded with Jake Hanner of the band Donora]. He jumped right on it and asked if we wanted to put it out on Atomic Family. I really respect what he's doing -- trying to bring the scene together. It's amazing how they started a label out of basement recordings in his house. They had their own booth for three dates on the Warped Tour. It's impressive that he's working so hard."

The Lost Sea does its part to promote itself, gracing clubs from the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern to the Lava Lounge and Club Cafe. When asked if his band is affiliated with the groups from the recently released "Key Party" compilation (for example, Lohio, Boca Chica and Emily Rodgers, all of whom get airplay on WYEP), Atkins says not yet, but he's looking forward to it. "We are playing shows with some of those bands, and we definitely fit in with their sound."

Right now, however, he's concentrating on the next two shows The Lost Sea has scheduled -- Friday at the Brillobox with The Takeover UK and Meeting of Important People (10 p.m., $5) and Aug. 22 with New York City chamber-folkies Gregory & The Hawk at Modern Formations Gallery (8 p.m., $8).
So if you're looking for a local breakout band with a bit of Conor Oberst and a bit of David Bazan, The Lost Sea will certainly fill the bill. - Pittsburgh Post Gazette



In May 2007 I posted a mix of songs (The Sea and the Sand), one of which was "Warmer Weather" by a young man named Sean Atkins, performing as I Am the Lost Sea. I said in that post that this demo song showed promise.

In the 14 months between then and now, there has been more stormy weather than smooth sailing on the lost sea. Atkins wanted to put a band together and get signed to a label, but band members seemed to depart almost as quickly as he found them. A devastating personal loss plunged him into despair for months.

But that spark of promise and Atkins' perseverance are starting to pay off. There is a band now , simply The Lost Sea, and their first EP, Empty Swings on Atomic Family Records, has recently become available on iTunes. They have been playing dates in the Pittsburgh area and have several appearances scheduled this month.

Atkins writes all the songs and plays acoustic and sings. The band members are Andrew Cuneo on lead guitar (replacing Luke Bartolomeo who played on the EP but left due to health problems), Frank Schlatterer on drums (replacing interim drummer Chris Weaver), Andrew Belsick on bass, and Becki Gallagher singing harmonies as well as playing piano and organ.

All five songs on the EP, including the reworked "Warmer Weather," are the reflections of a sweet soul, with a resemblance to David Bazan with less angst and even less of his biting cynicism. The additional accompaniment and the blend of Becki's voice with Sean's have added a lot of depth to Atkins' gentle melodies. The title song and "Phone Calls" are especially nice. The group are planning to make another CD soon.
- speed of dark indie blog


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