Squirrel Bait

Skag Heaven

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    9
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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.

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