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Monday, January 07, 2008

myspace music monday: The Eastern Sea

Well after a month or so without myspace music monday, it has returned! I can't say I'm too fond of that because, truthfully, I absolutely despise filtering through all the nonsense on myspace in search of a single artist that doesn't suck entirely. But here I am, putting my own feelings aside for the sake of you, the reader. You're welcome.

The Eastern Sea

Today's myspace artist is The Eastern Sea, the "brainchild," as some would say, of Matthew Philip Hines. Now, at the risk of sacrificing journalistic integrity (which I really don't care about to begin with), I must admit that I personally know Matthew. We went to high school together and I played a show with him (as The Eastern Sea) in May of 2006. However, I'm not introducing you to his music to promote it for him. I'm doing it because I like it, and you should too!

The Eastern Sea covers a wide array of sounds. In the past, I've even heard smidgens of electro-pop on the group's myspace page. At the time of this writing, however, the collection of songs on the page definitely lean towards the folksier side of things. Matthew is a very talented songwriter though, and this genre of music is definitely a better fit to his talents. I keep on hearing Okkervil River in these songs, so perk up if you're into that (you should be).

The first song on the page is called "The Line," and it's undoubtedly the best one available on myspace. Right off the bat, you'll notice that Matthew doesn't have the strongest voice on the planet. It cracks occasionally, and it sounds more boyish than anything else. But there's more in there too. It's earnest and raw, and there's even a small resemblance to Ben Gibbard at times. The lyrics, as per usual, are amazing. Matthew sings in a fragile falsetto, "On my judgment day they're gonna hear me say ' The Devil's in my way!'" and I can't help but think of how genius that one line is.

The second song, "Wine Into Water," is more of an experimental lo-fi track. A recording of a solemn televangelist (I think) is playing as Matthew plays the piano and sings in the background. No, literally in the background. It sounds as if he set a microphone up on one side of the room and played on the other side. The song isn't bad, but the way it's presented is a little off-putting.

In "Robert," Matthew sings of a guy whose name is...well, you know. He sings, "Robert you're the greatest! You'll always be the man!" and I'm not sure if he's using a little tongue in cheek there. The rest of the song's lyrics would lead me to believe that that is indeed the case. It's a really catchy song, with bluegrassy guitar picking and really cool, distant harmonies. Again, Matthew's songwriting skills shine here. The song ends with another audio sample (he uses them a lot).

"Dreams" is a charming, if not depressing, piece of music gold! It's slow-moving melody and brilliant melancholy reminds me of Loney, Dear. There are hints of that electro pop that I mentioned earlier towards the end. The song doesn't bust out into an electronic breakdown or anything, but he does put some stutters and effects on his vocals. It's very Notwist-ish. Loney, Dear and The Notwist in the same song? That's awesome...

"The Best Kind of Friend" really emphasizes that claim I made of The Eastern Sea sounding like Okkervil River. It's a musically darker song song than anything else on the page, with a driving acoustic guitar that never really lets up. Matthew's assertion that "The best kind of friend is an old friend" is undeniably true, and yet it strikes me as something that not everybody could write. Personally, I'd probably spend hours destroying my brain trying to think of a poignant line. Instead, Matthew takes something so obvious and makes it seem foreign and beautiful. In the end, that's really the brilliant thing about him as a songwriter. His lyrics are deceptively simple. All the lines I've quoted thus far aren't constructed by some lyrical wordsmith, but they have just as strong as an effect on you. It's good stuff.

Listen to The Eastern Sea. Matthew Philip Hines is an absolutely incredible songwriter, and he's not too bad of a singer or instrumentalist either! I've known it since the first time that I heard one of his songs and it was reinforced when I first saw him play live just as it is here: Matthew, if not The Eastern Sea, is going places with his musical endeavors if he chooses to do so. The amount of artistry and subtle genius contained in every song I've ever heard him do is too great to not share with the world. And the last time I checked, I made comparisons to Okkervil River, The Notwist, Ben Gibbard, and Loney, Dear. That alone should be enough reason for someone to notice.

The Eastern Sea's myspace Page (Hasn't been updated in a while)
Stand Out (from A Goofy Movie) Video
An Entire Set (Pt. 1) Video
An Entire Set (Pt. 2) Video
An Entire Set (Pt. 3) Video
An Entire Set (Pt. 4) Video

Do you have a band in mind for myspace music monday? Send us a tip at or by leaving a comment in this post. See you next week!

1 comment:

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