Let's be honest: Ra Ra Riot is a dumb name. It's the kind of name that only appeals to its snarky initiators, as outsiders coolly practice articulating it (“RRR”) without coming off as too obtuse. It's the kind of moniker only a tight-knit group, not at all concerned with perception, would conjure.Bingo!Ra Ra Riot (henceforth “Triple R”) don't care what you think. They hope you like their music and shows, but they've got a much deeper inspiration. The Syracuse, N.Y., outfit, which formed less than three years ago, has already been put through the greatest challenge any band can endure. In the summer of 2007, original drummer John Ryan Pike disappeared after a Providence, R.I., gig and was later found dead, having accidentally drowned in a Cape Cod bay. At the time, the band had already toured the U.S. and U.K. and was set to release a self-titled EP. Their songs were swirling into iPods across the globe, and things were just starting to get exciting. A less unified act may have called it quits. Triple R didn't even think about it.“That wasn't an option for us,” guitarist Milo Bonacci reflects. “We really looked at it as a reason to continue on. We felt a responsibility to record and play John's songs to make sure that his creative legacy would be celebrated and remembered.”So after a short hiatus to grieve, they started slowly, setting up a few New England shows for a benefit foundation set up in Pike's name with Triple R singer Wes Miles tapping friends in fellow buzz bands Tokyo Police Club and Vampire Weekend to play. By year's end they were in the studio recording their debut full-length, The Rhumb Line, a record dedicated to Pike, who's credited with songwriting contributions. Soon after, they headed back out on the road.Staying busy helped deflect some of the loss and sadness, but ultimately, Bonacci says, that wasn't what it was all about.“We really aren't trying to get over this in any way,” he says. “Every day of us being together is like a continuing therapy session. We're always going to think about John. This isn't past tense—it's still happening.”The Rhumb Line was released more than a year after Pike's death. It came as a welcome arrival for a group that had been enveloped by hipster buzz and critical ogling since 2007's CMJ Music Conference. The effusive praise surely was nice, but with only an EP to fall back on, it was tough to build a strong fan base. Bonacci says there's nothing quite like being greeted in a foreign country by a crowd of blank stares. “Touring and playing shows with bands like Editors in the U.K. was big for us,” he says. “They're huge over there, but no one knew who we were or paid attention to what we were doing. Hopefully, things will change now.”It should. The Rhumb Line plays somewhat like a Death Cab for Cutie / Arcade Fire crossbreed and debuted at No. 109 on the Billboard album chart. It's a 10-song effort filled with multilayered rockers, intimate deep thinkers and quiet, sentimental numbers. The intricate guitar lines and catchy choruses are enough to suck in the casual listener, but the stars of this set are the strings.Cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller work beautifully together to create texture that is as emotive as it is powerful. On the track “Ghost Under Rocks,” they carefully frame the rhythm-heavy rocker with yearning moans until unleashing soaring melodies during the goose-bump-inducing crescendo. Likewise, on the softer “Winter '05,” they serve as the center points for the entire track.“We write our songs collaboratively, so there's not going to be one particular sound that we stick to,” Bonacci says. “Everyone comes with their own ideas.”The recording sessions for The Rhumb Line may have been driven by grief and inspiration, but judging by the initial response to the record, it's shaping up to be a better year for the band. Triple R may just be onto something big—dumb name and all. Ra Ra Riot play with Walter Meego and The Morning Benders on Sunday, Aug. 28, at The Casbah. 619-232-HELL. www.rarariot.com.