Once upon a time, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament met singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur at a gig for Ament’s Three Fish solo project. Although they stayed in touch, the pair only got together for a jam session nearly 13 years later, joined by Three Fish drummer Richard Stuverud. Despite that late-blooming history and the supergroup’s vowel-free moniker, RNDM comes across as controlled and clear in purpose on their debut album Acts.
Acts may have been recorded in four days, but RNDM have worked themselves into a kind of groove akin to a band that’s been together far longer. On “What You Can’t Control”, slow-burning guitar lines and Arthur’s laid-back delivery weave an atmospheric splendor before Ament and Stuverud pick up the rhythmic pace, the closing instrumental section urgently poignant. A Pearl Jam influence is especially undeniable on album standout “Darkness”, specifically alike Ament’s Vitalogy-era compositions such as “Nothingman”. Here, RNDM spins a hypnotic lament that’s elevated to the status of long-lost alternative rock anthem thanks to an apparent channeling of Eddie Vedder’s weathered sincerity.
Not to be pigeonholed in their own past, the trio unleash some ferocity on rockers “Look Out!” and “Walking in New York” and embrace their folksy side on closer “Cherries in the Snow”. Although RNDM sound as if they are working in harmony on a variety of styles and sounds, Acts comes short of delivering something new and unexpected, the variety a sampler of things they’ve done in the past. Nevertheless, their take on alt-rock is an enjoyable memory of a fading genre.
Essential Tracks: “Darkness”, “What You Can’t Control”