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Skag Heaven

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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.

Customer Reviews

If you are at all interested in 80s rock, buy this!!

this has some fantastic tracks. Kid Dynamite, Kick the Cat, Slake Train and Tape from California are my favorites. The clips don' t really reveal the whole power of the songs though. Kind of Nirvana-esque w/ way more energy and passion. Awesome record. "I don't need no pig stomping on my buzz!!"

Great example of mid/late-80s speedcore

This fantastic band was over before they came to much notice, unfortunately. I don't even remember how I first heard of them, but Squirrel Bait is Husker Du-influenced with amazing songs. The production on _Skag Heaven_ is not quite as strong as the material and the performances deserve, or I would have given this 5 stars, but it's a really, really great record and a great example of the best rock of the dreadful 80s. Don't know if skag or heaven was the problem, but I wish they'd stayed around longer. "Kick The Kat" and "Rose Island Road" are up there with the best of the decade.

Forgotten Gem

Overlooked in its own day and now forgotten, this was one of the best alt-rock albums of the 80s. I saw them at a club in Boston back then, at the Rat probably (the Rathskeller was the CBGB's of Boston-both are now gone). Got the cd the next day at a local record store. The band was just too creative. The passion is raw without the pretentious posing of so many alt-rock bands band then. The melodies are catchy, but there's a lot more bleakness than comfort in these songs. Brilliant album.


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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