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