The Ramblin’ Years, Duke Evers, Tangerine, & The Echolarks
Neumos, Seattle, WA

Presented by The Capitol Hill Block Party, Neumos, and KEXP and billed as a “Block Party Warm Up” featuring four fantastic local acts, the night was sorely under-attended. Which is a shame, because the line up of acts, all slated to appear at this year’s CHBP 20th Anniversary, were all incredibly impressive. But don’t worry, the dance floor didn’t go to waste.

First up, Tri-Cities imports The Echolarks brought out their dreamy alt-pop with plenty of two-part harmonies and perfect melodies that you just can’t get out of your head. They kicked it off by breaking a bass pedal on “Little Boots” with its drooping pysch-rock chords before the poppier “Ooh La La,” featuring gorgeous harmonies. “Wasted On” goes a bit Americana, as Grace Ingersoll whips out a tambourine, but this band seems to have a lot of range up their sleeves. Front man Davey Ingersoll (formerly of Loudermilk/Gosling) showing off his strong, unique voice on both ballads and alt-rock tracks. Definitely keeping an eye on these guys.

Next up we were treated to Tangerine, whose pop-laced garage rock keeps getting better every time I see them. Sounding cohesive and clear, their surfy pop swings like hell. Marika and Miro Justad harmonize with breathy vocals over heavy guitars. They’ve thrown in some Afro-pop, island-style flair, and glittering ballads that break out into screeching reverb. There’s hints of R&B here, and clear grunge influences, creating a uniquely alluring brew that’s easily digestible and constantly interesting. Their brand new EP Sugar Teeth is out now via bandcamp.

Duke Evers then got the crowd into a frenzy – especially the ladies – with their punchy, bluesy rock. With the recent addition of bassist Dune Butler filling out the low end of their tracks, Duke Evers has taken their post-grunge sound to a new level. Vocalist/guitarist Josh Starkel was as rock star as ever, thrashing off his sunglasses, his moves reminiscent of guys like Jagger and Elvis, the girls in the crowd letting off shrieks of appreciation. Kyle Veazey behind the drums is like a happy anchor holding down the fluttering front line.

The trio signed to Randm Records last year, recently spent time recording down in San Diego, and both new and reworked material is sounding tighter than ever. The guys let loose on several new tracks, from sexy party rocker “Touch of Skin” to the slowed down “I’m Your Man,” then completely shredded on “You Said I Said” like the bosses they are. Their rework of their popular track “Seaside” felt surprisingly fresh. And then there was the young girl who ran on the stage from out of nowhere to hug Starkel during the last track. Despite the surprise, the band played undisturbed and closed it out with their typical boundless energy.

Headlining the night, eclectic rock and rollers The Ramblin’ Years kept the party going. As per usual at TRY’s shows, there was plenty of dancing, plenty of beer, and plenty of big, loud, rock.

Led by founder, vocalist, and lead guitarist Sean Clavere, the five-piece band kicked if off with “Aches & Pains,” a rollicking track off their latest EP Halfway Somewhere, that swings to the twangy side of the groups eclectic nature.

From there, they showcased favorites from their catalog plus a fantastic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” “Stone by Stone” off their 2014 self-titled full-length – which they dedicated to Merle Haggard – is a hard-times groove with a melody reminiscent of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” that features Daniel Dunn’s jazzy, R&B saxophone work and rapping that always gets the crowd excited.

“I see some of you have your dancing shoes on, which will be good for this next song,” says vocalist/rhythm guitarist Katie Sweeny, before Clavere jumps in, “Have a beer for this next song.” He goes on to explain their music view, “You get your egg and flour and Jack Daniels, and PBR, and then just dip your rock and roll in it and fucking deep fry it. That’s what this next song should sound like.” And with that, they break into “Come on Carla,” a real barn-burner of harmony and boot-tapping, perfect for vibrant dancing, which the crowd doesn’t hesitate to jump on.

If there’s one thing about The Ramblin’ Years that shold go unquestioned, it’s that their great big sound is always on point, their attitude always ready to party, and their crowd, always on board. So much so that they played a three-song encore, finding it hard to end the night. April 23rd they join The Dusty 45’s and Danny Newcomb & The Sugarmakers at Tractor Tavern.

Keep an eye on all four of of these bands and make sure to get your Capitol Hill Block Party tickets soon. We’ll see you there!

Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Arel Watson