Three Mountains, the debut from Tres Mts., is a classic example of a band that’s a Jack of all trades but master of none, which unfortunately results in an uneven record filled with a hodgepodge of styles and a noticeable lack of identity.
The record gets off to a promising start with “My Baby” but immediately stalls with the following track “Oh Lord,” foreshadowing the unbalanced temperament of Three Mountains. The former is a straight-forward rock song with a forceful and driving groove. On the latter vocalist dUg Pinnick (from King’s X) repeatedly blurts out “Oh Loooord” like a druken wino with a speech impediment over a slowed down funky groove. This does little to help the record grab the ears of listeners.
Fortunately Pinnick’s vocals aren’t garbley throughout the record as he gets sensitive with a piano ballad (“Life”) and harmonizes with the rest of the group on “God Told Me.” Both of these song tread into adult contemporary categorization which makes the record feel like it is coming from a band searching for an identity. It’s safe to guess that this stems from the fact that the band wrote the song over a period of several years which hasn’t given Tres Mts. much of an opportunity to decide what type of band it wants to be. And while it is refreshing to have a lot of variety on an album none of the songs do justice to the rock sub-genre they’re tackling which an unappealing lack of consistency.
Is Tres Mts. a solid rock band as advertised on “Mystery” and “Utah?” Are they a soulful garage group like on “Break” and “Afrosheena”? Or maybe they’re a group made for the aforementioned adult contemporary crowd. The only ones who can answer that question are the three men in Tres Mts. and it seems like they don’t have an answer.
On the plus side there’s a lot of passion behind Pinnick’s voice, which is perfect for modern rock and blues singing and it gives the music a dynamic not heard by a lot of groups making music today. Pinnick’s passion should also come into play when the band launches its brief U.S. tour later this month accompanied by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready on guitar. Expect Pinnick’s vocal delivery to make this set of songs that sound lackluster on record pop in concert.
Speaking of Pearl Jam the record and band has a built-in fanbase since Tres Mts. consists of Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Pinnick and former Fastback Richard Stuverud and die-hard Pearl Jam fans will enjoy the record’s redeeming qualities. The musicianship on the album is solid, there are some great guitar guitar solos (especially on “Hole in the Road”) and some decent ideas in place. Unfortunately Three Mountains never quite comes together as a record making for an frustrating listen from a group of musicians capable of much better things.
*Tres Mts. performs at Showbox at the Market March 16.