Brett Netson Simple Work for the Dead

On his first solo album, Built To Spill guitarist Brett Netson channels much more of his extensive work over the past two decades with the likes of Mark Lanegan and his Caustic Resin side-project into ten tracks that take psych-folk into rarely travelled territory. The epic, swirling guitar constructs that Netson helped develop with Built To Spill founder Doug Martsch are still evident all over Simple Work for the Dead, most specifically on majestic instrumental "Piss Anywhere" and its 17-minute evil cousin, "Lupus." Yet with so much of the album based upon acoustic ideas, Netson is forced to fill them out with dense, drone-y synths that nonetheless accentuate the barely checked anger of his lyrics. The best illustration of this is in Netson's cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," a song that, more than any other in Dylan's catalogue, constantly begs to be reinterpreted. Netson isn't entirely convincing as a singer, but for an album that is, at times, frustratingly amorphous, leaning on Dylan is as appropriate a final note as anything could be. (The New Black)