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Acts Review

by Fred Thomas

Less of a side project, RNDM is the long-conceptualized but slow-to-materialize band of Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and veteran songwriter Joseph Arthur, joined by drummer Richard Stuverud, who previously backed Ament in his Three Fish solo project. Though the three musicians had planned their collaboration for over ten years, debut album Acts was spawned from a fly-by-night recording marathon that churned out these 12 songs from start to finish in just four days. While the players have all been around long enough to know the nuances of both songwriting and studiocraft inside out, the shadows of their '90s Seattle roots hang over Acts, in particular the enormous cloud of Pearl Jam, whose influence colors some of RNDM's strongest moments. Melancholy alt-rock radio songs like "Williamsburg" and "What You Can't Control" seem lodged sturdily in the muted earth tones of alternative rock's glory days. Even the album's eclectic turns from moody rockers like "Hollow Girl" to funk-infused groove rock have a dated feel, throwing different ideas at the wall, but in a way that's been watered down so much since the days when grunge ruled supreme that it fails to connect 20 years later. While Acts isn't without its chemistry and moments of clarity, the unintentional throwback feeling of the majority of the songs renders even the strongest moments a little dull.

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