by Katie Dutli & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ith startup bands competing every day for play time on our iPods and local stations, what makes one indie/rock/emo group stand out from the next? In the case of Seven Years Absence, it's the sweeping variety of sounds covering their first full-length album. Our Life in Stereo -- which some would simply categorize as a novice effort and nothing more -- has been a labor of love for the four local members.

Their beginning follows a familiar storyline. Boy A, with musical talent and passion, meets boy B with similar talent and passion (but different instruments, of course). The two connect with Boy A's childhood friend (who has singing ability), all of which leads to Boy A randomly asking the guy sitting behind him in class if he's interested in being a drummer. You might say, then, that Boy A, Nick Lambert, was the reason behind Seven Years Absence's formation. But Lambert humbly acknowledges that he was just "the one person who knew three other guys."

Lambert describes their sound as melodic rock, with influences from the remarkably different music that the members listen to, which range from emo to rock and bluegrass. "You can identify our four distinctive personalities throughout the album," he says, meaning that, while prominent drums, strong guitar and screaming vocals dominate "Tripping Over," soft keys, acoustic guitar and a calm voice soothe the listener in "Hangin' On." If you don't like synthesized, symbol-heavy rock, just skip to the next track and take in simple acoustic lines with clear vocals.

It's a refreshing idea that a group of guys would play music solely because they love it, and for no other reason. "We play free shows and don't do it for the money -- we do it because we just love to play music." That seemed evident in our interview. Lambert stepped away from his desk to speak with me -- but only after he told his co-worker (at his full time job) that he needed to take this call, giving a few instructions about what to do while he was on the phone. It's a perfect example of a regular guy with musical talent who plays with his buddies in the evenings.

At Saturday's CD release party for Our Life in Stereo, Seven Years' performance will be a mix of acoustic and heavy sounds; they'll be joined by Seattle band Garage Voice and Walla Walla's Last Chance Rd. While some tracks sound as if they were recorded in a quick seven days, the lyrics to "Hangin' On" suggest something about the band's dedication: "He's never given up before and he's not about to start / 'Cause he knows he's hangin' onto something that's hangin' on to him."

Seven Years Absence CD-release show featuring Garage Voice and Last Chance Rd. at Caterina Winery on Saturday, April 7, at 8 pm. Tickets: $5. Call 328-5069.

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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