Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Tres Mts.

TresMtsPhotoSide projects can be a tricky proposition in the music world. Oftentimes you’ll see a respected musician split off from a famous group, listen to the final product and reflexively remark, “What the hell was he thinking?” But there are others that catch you by surprise and leave you wanting more. And in the case of Tres Mts., it’s the latter.

TresMtsPhotoSide projects can be a tricky proposition in the music world. Oftentimes you’ll see a respected musician split off from a famous group, listen to the final product and reflexively remark, “What the hell was he thinking?” But there are others that catch you by surprise and leave you wanting more. And in the case of Tres Mts., it’s the latter.

Comprised of dUg Pinnick (King’s X), bassist Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) and drummer Richard Sutverud, with guest guitarist Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), the group has spun off some very interesting sounds with their debut album, Three Mountains, released digitally March 8. From start to finish the band blends genres in a way that demands a second listen, and will certainly have fans primed to see them perform live at the Black Cat in D.C. March 21.

Leading with super-fuzzy energy track “My Baby,” available for free download on their website, you instantly get the impression that you’re in for something rather original. On one hand, “My Baby” calls to mind a middle-aged blues singer strumming a steel-stringed guitar on a Spanish moss-covered porch in the Mississippi delta. On the other, that bluesy bard is plugged into an amp and effects board left over from early 90s Seattle.

Longtime friends, Ament and Pinnick have been playing together since first meeting up in 1989, before Pearl Jam broke through to become one of America’s biggest rock bands. Three Mountains is the product of some annual writing sessions that began about 10 years ago. Skewing closer to the more soulful sounds of King’s X than those of Ament’s crew, the album is ripe with R&B and soul influences.

With a chorus of “Don’t let the world keep you down,” “Holes in the Road” conjures up memories of Stevie Ray Vaughan. “In the Middle” meanwhile brings back some British Invasion vibes, with a Stones-y opening guitar riff.

The R&B and Brit-rock blends best though on “She’s My New Song.” Between the rough-around-the edges fuzz, soulful vocals and swing-your-hips-nice-and-slow rhythms, it’s easy to envision this track being played at some kind of smoky roadhouse, with a handful of locals grooving on the dance floor.

The album’s eighth track, “Afrosheena,” skews towards a power-pop ballad sound with a blow-the-doors-off-the-room chorus that will almost certainly have audiences screaming along with the band.

“Mystery” may not be the most enjoyable track to listen to, but there’s something about it that’s intriguing. Perhaps it’s the way the chords clash that keep the listener off balance and uneasy. If you like your music to go down smooth, I doubt you’ll enjoy this track, but if you take more of a “music is art” position you could appreciate what’s going on here.

Lyrically the album alternates between tunes on love and life to a few with more religious overtones, which hearken back to some of the themes Pinnick explores with King’s X. There’s nothing though that will make you think you’re getting some kind of rock sermon, just enough to make you think about the big picture.

The album winds down with a reprise of “She’s My New” and as it does, you can’t help but wonder what might be next for Tres Mts. It clearly took a lot of effort to get this show on the road, literally and figuratively. But now that it’s off and running, will the talented trio return to it in time or not? If it’s the latter, that’s all the more reason to check them out Monday night.