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Skag Heaven

Squirrel Bait

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Album Review

On their sophomore release, Skag Heaven, Squirrel Bait not only continued with the hard rockin' punk sound of their debut, but improved on it with better material and performances. Peter Searcy's speed grit vocals, David Grubbs' dirty, Van Halenesque guitar attack, and Ben Daughtrey's varied and tight drumming all sound more polished here, especially on the locomotive, punk metal driven tracks "Kid Dynamite" and "Virgil's Return," as well as on the relatively straightforward thrash number "Kick the Cat." Newfound melodic touches appear too on "Black Light Poster Child" and the Phil Ochs' cover "Tape from California," along with tempo shifts which punctuate the dark drama of "Choose Your Poison" and "Short Straw Wins." If Squirrel Bait had not disbanded after Skag Heaven, it's hard to say if their intense sound would have continued to benefit from the expanded songwriting sensibilities. With their small but potent output, though, Squirrel Bait did help reconcile punks to the hard rock they were supposed to hate by demonstrating, along with metal camp sympathizers Metallica, that the two styles are linked through a shared love of alienation driven intensity. Look for used copies of the out of print Homestead two-fer for all the band's indie rock lessons.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Louisville, KY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s

Adored by critics and a small cult following, the seminal Squirrel Bait remain consistently underrated in terms of their influence on post-hardcore punk and alt-rock. A big part of that is due to their unfortunately scant recorded legacy: two albums, both under half an hour, both only sporadically available. Their visibility certainly wasn't helped by the lack of a bustling scene in their native Louisville, KY, at the time (though they helped kick start one), nor by the high-school-age members' youth,...
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Skag Heaven, Squirrel Bait
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