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Brett Netson – Simple Work For The Dead (The New Black)

22 November 2011

Fans of Built To Spill are no doubt aware of who Brett Netson is. He also leads his own band, Caustic Resin. Netson’s solo debut is quite a diverse departure. The first two tracks, “Preaching To The Choir,” and “God Is Wrong,” are the closest he comes to BTS and that is in tone only. The vocals are multilayered yet understated. Both I found were more enjoyable with each subsequent listen. “We Should All Be Commended,” would have fit right in on the Mark Lanegan album he contributed on. “Existence,” is reminiscent of something from John Frusciante‘s bizarrely wonderful Niandra Lades. The playing on Simple Work For The Dead is wonderful. This doesn’t lead to a letdown because, as I said, this is not a Built To Spill record. This is a story, not a sing-a-long. One can tell that these songs were brewing inside of him for a while even though the each song was separately written and recorded within a day. You would think there would be some disconnect but it’s clear that Netson must have had a vision for the album. A vision that, for half of it, words had no place as four of the last six tracks are instrumentals.

SWFTD is something to absorbed. The listener can feel his anger against a culture that doesn’t act in its own best interests but feel powerless to instigate change. Maybe there are so many instrumentals because he couldn’t quite put into words how he was feeling. And just in case you didn’t get Netson’s drift, he closes the album with a simple and effective cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Masters Of War,”. The line “That even Jesus would never forgive what you do” in effect calls back to “God Is Wrong,”. The statement made here is one of simply separating church and state, not one, necessarily, of atheism. The song wraps up this angry present with a bow and leaves an impression not soon forgotten.

God is Wrong by Riot Act