I’ve spoken a few times with the unorthodox guitar hero Brett Netson, member of Built to Spill, Earth and more, including his own noise machine, Caustic Resin.
So I’m pretty stoked that his work is justly resurfacing. Check below for more news on the resurgence of Caustic Resin, as well as my past interviews and reviews of Netson’s rocking rebellion.
90s heavy psych band Caustic Resin announce the deluxe reissue of their celebrated 1998 album The Medicine is All Gone today with a song stream at Brooklyn Vegan. The double LP reissue is the album’s first time ever on vinyl (anyone remember CDs?), remastered from the original analog tapes. The album opener “Cable” is available to hear and share HERE. (Direct Soundcloud HERE.)
Caustic Resin vocalist/guitarist Brett Netson is also a longtime member of indie rock heroes Built To Spill and currently plays in drone legends Earth as well as fronting his own Brett Netson and Snakes. Earth joins Boris for an extensive U.S. tour starting this Friday, July 22nd. Please see dates below.
Recorded in 1998 with engineer Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, Mudhoney, Built To Spill, The Shins, Band Of Horses), the album was a highpoint both sonically and in terms of songwriting in the 15 year career of the Boise rock trio. Initially released on Alias Records, after many years of the album’s high repute passing, largely by word of mouth, from devoted fans and record store clerks to, well, anyone who would listen, the calls and campaigns for this landmark album to be released on vinyl have finally been heeded.
Even after over a decade and a half The Medicine Is All Gone still sounds remarkable. Its authenticity and organic nature grant it a timeless quality, its honesty and raw emotion stirring the soul in a way that only the most magical of music can.
The album is an intoxicating ride through the heaviest of psychedelic trips, its avalanche of layered guitars cascading into fathomless waters of calm respite before the white knuckle ride rises again and again. Its vocals and lyrics sound as though they are the last gasp scream uttered by a man who stands at the precipice of his own mortality. And indeed he might have been.
In 1998 Caustic Resin had been around for 10 years and their longstanding line up of Brett Netson (vocals and guitar) Tom Romich (bass) and James Dillion (drums) had all but burned itself out with its dedication to rock n’ roll and the worst aspects of the associated lifestyle. Their drugged out sound was one dictated by experience not secondhand inspiration. By the time they recorded The Medicine Is All Gone they were like a space rock Icarus, blinkered in their efforts to force every last effort into a final flight after being fatally scorched by the sun. These sometimes terrifying contemporary blues songs tell tales of estranged families, destructive drug and sex relationships, paranoia, religious reflections, death and spiritual redemption.
The Medicine Is All Gone stands as a unique entry in the canon of stoner rock and makes much of its fellow alumni seem tame in comparison. It is an astonishing achievement when judged solely on its musicality, but, as an end product, it is nothing short of a miracle when considering the mental illness, addiction, homelessness and criminality issues its makers were facing around the time of its construction. The explosive, violent chemistry of the trio that produced this classic music would sadly never issue a full album’s worth of material again.
As a collection of songs the album flows together incredibly well, ebbing and flowing like a lysergic dream, although there are definite highlights. These include scene setter “Cable,” “Hate In Your…,” “Salamander,” ” Dripping” and the incongruous but heartfelt (and at times scathing) “Man From Michigan.” Towards the album’s close we are introduced to the unforgettable “Mysteries of…” which was inspired by a hallucination during a near fatal overdose of heroin and a later dream involving the preacher from the movie/book Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, the track morphing into full throttle rendition of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up.”
When I received The Medicine Is All Gone it looked worryingly like some low rent Scandinavian black metal album, Caustic Resin’s addled members staring scarily out from plain mug shots on the cover. Their lack of pretence visually and deep obligation to an 80’s underground non aesthetic belied the care and effort taken to craft the music contained within. The artwork of this reissue is only slightly different, taken from an old promo poster from the time of the album’s initial release. It has been weathered by time in a way this music never could. This reissue also contains the original mastering notes from Phil Ek (engineer) to Roger Seibel (mastering engineer).
Although the band did not survive in the format contained here, the individual members thankfully did and even reconvened for a show at 2014 Treefort Festival in their native Boise, Idaho. Brett Netson has been a full time member of Boise alternative rock band Built To Spill for the last decade, fronts his own relatively new band Brett Netson and Snakes, has played with the likes of Mark Lanegan and Earth and is a committed family man. He has also recently founded his own label, Scavenger Cult, this reissue of The Medicine Is All Gone being its second release.
The Medicine is All Gone will be available on 2xLP and download on September 9th via Scavenger Cult Records.