Caught Up in Caustic Resin
This is in no way an advertisement for Resin Road, the boogie band I’m about to start with some like-minded individuals – it’s about another “resin” band, the Idaho trio known as Caustic Resin. I felt they should somehow be immortalized just for making The Medicine is All Gone way back in 1998. Most people don’t know, but Brett Netson’s crew actually pre-date Built to Spill, the band who were likely the gateway into even hearing a Caustic Resin track (remember the split?). Well this whole post came to fruition in my quandary with Built to Spill. When it was announced that Built to Spill were going to play their seminal Perfect From Now On at the Pitchfork Music Festival I actually got kind of excited. That was quite an important record when it was released, epic in its psychedelic undertaking but still laced with Doug Martsch’s somewhat huckster bittersweet pop hooks. It was, as suggested, perfect. But, despite the outrage I might endure from Built to Spill apologists, he hasn’t made a good record since. In seeing there’s a new Built to Spill record on the way, one that’s being described as “heavy” and “dark,” I’m always anxious to see if he can reignite that spark. The last one was close, but seeing as I can remember the title of it without looking it up does not a great album make.
In the meantime, there is at least one Caustic Resin record worth your time, two if you include the excellent stoner trip in Fly Me to the Moon. Netson though, found a worthwhile balance between the dreadful, druggy, raging, nearing-PacNW aggression (think Wipers/TAD/Butterfly Train) found in his earliest records, and the more hokum melodies he would eventually share with Martsch and run into ground on subsequent records, on one compact document – the aforementioned The Medicine is All Gone. Alias released this one to little acclaim and it took some digging to find it again, seeing as it’s been tough to surface anything on that label (I’m looking at you Throneberry albums), this one is a missing artifact, especially if you’re a fan of BTS. The beauty of songs like the lead-off “Cable” and the stand-outs “Man from Michigan” and “Niacin,” comes in the trio’s instability, the constant wavering of Netson’s (eerily similar to Martsch) vocals – where he almost screams alley-cat minstrels, but manages to wrangle it all in – the monolithic riffs that near a Sabbath wallop but kind of fizzle in a billowing mess of grungy smoke-signals, the psychedelic bong-worshipped guitars going in every which direction that recall the earliest of Butthole Surfer madness. There’s a lysergic trail (I’m sure but not sure of substance abuse in Netson’s history, so don’t quote me) that flows through the penultimate one-two punch of “Mysteries Of…” and their cover of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” that is really all one needs for convincing. And there's a heap of excellent snaggletooth-jam on the finale “Enough,” that you might find yourself searching for the even looser/darker expanse of the record that came before this. You might even find yourself sending fan mail to Mr. Doug egging him out of his decade funk to give us what we all really want – a proper follow-up to that hour of bliss he gave us way back when.
Sub. Ref. diggin'